Fortune 500 Graded “C” in Recruitment Marketing

Telecommunications companies get top marks

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer February 15, 2017
Fortune 500 Graded “C” in Recruitment Marketing

One-third of the Fortune 500 scored an "A" or "B" on their recruitment marketing efforts. Recruitment marketing platform developer SmashFly ranked the 2016 Fortune 500 an overall "C" average or "good."

"The nation's largest organizations are getting more sophisticated and becoming more successful by integrating digital marketing, content marketing, mobile and social into their recruiting strategies," said Mike Hennessy, founder and CEO of SmashFly.

SmashFly analyzed the ways that the largest U.S. companies find, attract, engage and nurture leads in order to convert them into applicants to fill jobs, and assessed them on 36 criteria across eight categories. Practices assessed were search engine optimization (SEO), content for job seekers, initiative messaging, employer branding, a mobile-friendly candidate experience, social careers channels, lead nurturing and personalization throughout the candidate journey. Mobile friendliness across careers sites, the job search and application process was determined by Google's Mobile Friendly Test tool and Google Chrome DevTools.

Areas for improvement are:

  • Enabling candidate leads to opt in to a talent network or job alerts without applying for a job.
  • Nurturing leads with consistent, personalized communication.
  • Sharing online content other than jobs in order to attract and engage with potential job seekers.

One hundred seventy-two companies (34 percent) earned an A or B for their use of recruitment marketing, but only 22 companies (4 percent) were judged to be exceptional in their practices to attract and convert leads into applicants.

The top-ranked employers included Intel, Macy's, Hilton Worldwide, General Mills, CDW and Lockheed Martin. The telecommunications sector had the largest percentage of companies (58 percent) earning As and Bs, followed by the industrial (53 percent) and health care (53 percent) sectors.

Many of the same companies were also recognized by recruitment process outsourcing, consulting and search firm WilsonHCG in its 2017 Employment Branding Report, which ranked the Fortune 500 on employment branding practices.

[SHRM members-only Q&A: How can we develop an employment branding strategy?]

"It's incredibly important to understand that recruitment marketing is a subset of employer brand," said Susan S. LaMotte, SPHR, the founder and CEO of exaqueo, an employer brand experience firm based in Charleston, S.C. "You want to ensure you've built a research-based employer brand first, and then build recruitment marketing strategies to align with your brand. That's key because if you don't align with the employer brand, and you do recruitment marketing in a silo, you run the risk of making inauthentic promises you can't deliver on in the employment experience."

One hundred thirteen companies (23 percent) scored a D or F in the SmashFly audit. The motor vehicle and auto parts sector had the largest percentage of companies (54 percent) receiving grades of D or F, followed by wholesalers (41 percent). Overall, 21 percent of companies received a D and 2 percent of companies were given an F.

"This is not a surprise," LaMotte said. "The businesses that have fully embraced employer brand and recruitment marketing tend to be those who are B2C or who are in service-based professions where the employee has a direct effect or correlation to service delivery and consumer performance." Not that wholesalers shouldn't embrace the emerging discipline, she added. "But it's understandable that they tend to be late to the game especially in an environment where marketing dollars aren't as easy to come by."

Dalit Brosh, talent experience and attraction director at Intel Corporation, headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., says the company focused on the candidate experience to inform the recruiting process. "We have been revisiting our attraction and engagement strategies through the lens of the talent we would like to hire, considering their journey and motivations, while taking into account the industry shift towards e-commerce and social media driven interactions," she said. "To this end, we have been piloting a variety of tactics, from delivering customized value-add content to our leads, to rethinking the way we interact with candidates throughout the process and leveraging tools and data to measure which tactics are having the desired impact."

Additional results from the SmashFly report include:

  • Companies are getting smarter about SEO–94 percent of surveyed companies' careers sites appear first in a Google search. About half (49 percent) have optimized job landing pages.
  • 83 percent of the Fortune 500 with careers social channels share content other than jobs.
  • 66 percent do not have an end-to-end mobile-friendly candidate experience.
  • 55 percent showcase their military and veteran hiring initiatives.
  • 53 percent message to key job families, such as engineers or sales professionals. "Your targeted messaging is only as good as the research you do," LaMotte said. "And a few HR-led focus groups won't cut it. You have to have a rigorous research strategy to understand your target market—who they are, what matters to them in life and work, where and how they spend their time and what messages resonate best."
  • 45 percent of companies use video to tell employees' stories.
  • 44 percent capture leads by inviting candidates to opt in to receive job alerts or to join a talent network. "Both tactics allow organizations to capture leads, but a talent network provides a greater opportunity to engage and nurture candidates with brand-led content beyond jobs," Hennessey said.
  • 35 percent were designated as mobile-friendly, compared to 14 percent in 2015.
  • 20 percent send at least monthly communications to leads.
  • 18 percent don't support any mobile-friendly recruiting tactic.
  • Just 1 percent send content other than job alerts to leads.

LaMotte reminded employers that content needs to be strategic or else it runs the risk of being generic. "It's important that your storytelling isn't just a series of testimonials," she said. "It has to be aligned with the employer brand you've developed, be shared through channels you know from research are important to your target audience and resonate with your target audience emotionally. That means more authentic and differentiating messaging that focuses on the value of the employment experience, the reality and what's hard about it, and the kind of person who'd be happy and perform well."

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