Fortune 500 Getting Better at Recruitment Marketing


Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer April 6, 2018
Fortune 500 Getting Better at Recruitment Marketing

​Nearly half (46 percent) of the Fortune 500 scored an "A" or a "B" on their recruitment marketing practices in 2017, a big improvement from the previous year, according to SmashFly Technologies' third annual report card scoring the most successful companies in the United States.

The report shows an upward trend in adoption of marketing practices in talent acquisition over the last three years. A little over one-third (36 percent) of the Fortune 500 were awarded with an "A" or "B" in 2016, and 27 percent received the top grades in 2015, the first year SmashFly began its benchmarking.

There's also been some progress on the lower end of the scale. In 2017, the number of companies receiving a "D" or "F" grade dropped to 26 percent from 32 percent in 2015.

But for all the upward momentum since 2015, best-in-class companies—the "A" group—still account for just 13 percent (65 companies) of the annual Fortune ranking. The remainder of the list this year received Bs (33 percent), Cs (28 percent), Ds (18 percent) and Fs (8 percent).

"Fortune 500 companies are slowly moving away from the middle, which is proof that more companies are trying to differentiate themselves from the pack with a talent-and-marketing-focused strategy," said Elyse Mayer, SmashFly's director of marketing.

From September to November 2017, SmashFly worked with a third-party research firm to analyze the ways that the largest U.S. companies find, attract, engage and nurture leads to convert them into job candidates, and assessed them on 37 criteria based on their careers sites, social channels and talent networks, among other things. Practices assessed included search engine optimization (SEO), recruitment marketing content for job seekers, employer branding, a mobile-friendly candidate experience, lead nurturing and personalization throughout the candidate journey.

The grading defines the natural stages most organizations go through as they discover recruitment marketing and implement change, Mayer said. "Companies receiving As often have specialized recruitment marketing talent on staff, reduced dependency on job boards, and a targeted strategy for building pipeline through lead capture and nurture."

B-graded organizations have a talent network in place and a basic nurture strategy, Cs are in the beginning stages of recruitment marketing and employer branding, and Ds generally focus only on job boards and have a poorly defined employer brand, according to SmashFly. F-graded companies have not yet adopted recruitment marketing best practices.

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Areas for Improvement

The recruitment marketing practices most adopted by the Fortune 500 were careers site SEO for a Google search and having mobile-friendly careers pages and job searches. Some of the practices that most needed improvement were publishing content on social media channels; addressing the application process with FAQs; enabling a job alerts signup; embedding images or video in job descriptions; and implementing a talent network, one of the most fundamental ways to nurture people who are interested in the organization.

"Lead nurturing is one of the most important recruitment marketing strategies for modern talent acquisition, but the reality is that most TA teams don't have the skills needed to properly nurture a talent community, so it's not surprising that even the Fortune 500 are lagging here," said Lori Sylvia, founder and CEO of Rally Recruitment Marketing, an online community that helps practitioners learn recruitment marketing skills and strategies. "While there are software products that will capture the contact information of candidates either before or during the application process, unfortunately for most employers those contacts go into a database where, at best, candidates receive job alerts and, at worst, nothing at all."

But lead nurturing requires more than software—it requires skills like e-mail marketing and content marketing, and confidence in using these communication tools, Sylvia said.

Top-Ranked Employers

For the second consecutive year, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel Corporation was the top-ranked organization. Rounding out the top 10 were CH2M HILL, General Electric, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp., AT&T, Aramark, Charter Communications Inc., Travelers Cos. Inc. and CDW Corp.

John Cotton, recruitment technology and user experience strategist at CH2M, a global engineering firm based in the Denver area, said his team has been working the last five-plus years toward delivering an exceptional candidate experience at every stage of the recruitment process.

Some of the initiatives they've undertaken include:

  • Launching an updated, mobile-friendly and responsive website. "The site integrated content between what have typically been separate channels—corporate marketing and recruitment marketing, featuring employee stories and videos, project information, careers pages and key business sectors—all in a cohesive experience," Cotton said.
  • Optimizing the site for SEO. "Having a good careers site is one thing, but it doesn't matter if you can't be found," Cotton said. CH2M was one of the first Fortune 500 companies to have its jobs natively indexed by Google for Jobs.
  • Building a robust social strategy. "We're very active on social channels with separate Facebook and Twitter careers handles," Cotton said. "We track and measure what social content garners the most response and then tweak our delivery strategy to optimize engagement."
  • Simplifying the candidate application process. In 2017, CH2M eliminated two full pages of previously required data entry while adding information that describes what it takes to apply, how long on average it will take, and what information candidates will likely need to submit to complete their application. The company also added a mechanism on its most difficult-to-fill positions through which candidates who don't have the time or interest to go through a full application can "introduce themselves" by filling out a few simple fields. "We then automatically send nurturing e-mails that invite them to add additional details, until we have enough data to determine a fit for our roles," Cotton said.

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