Integrating the Internet Into Your Recruitment Plan

Though it has been widely adopted by human resource professionals both as a source of candidates and a recruitment tool, the Internet is still often viewed as a separate recruitment vehicle rather than one part of a comprehensive strategy. As a result, recruiters often implement online methods as an afterthought or when nothing else seems to be working. But in order to achieve the best results from your recruitment efforts, it’s essential to plan in advance how the Internet can complement other methods and help form the foundation of your recruitment strategy. The integration of online media tactics can be broken down into two phases: planning and execution. The first part of this article series focuses on the planning phase, which includes developing an overview of the Internet components you want to use throughout the year to achieve your recruitment goals, the gathering of media information, and budget allocation. Part two will detail execution and tracking?? steps that also lead back to the planning phase. Planning Your Approach Today’s online advertising strategies are far more sophisticated than yesterday’s job postings. New formats?? from pop-unders and skyscraper ads to electronic newsletter sponsorships and e-marketing?? require more planning than earlier formats, such as job postings and employer profiles. And because Internet advertising has evolved tremendously over the past few years, it’s no longer feasible to consider your Internet strategy as an add-on. The following steps will help guide you through the planning phase: 1. Determine how you plan to use the Internet in your recruitment efforts. Spend some time thinking about all of the options available via the Internet and which options make the most sense based on your recruitment needs. You can separate your options into two categories?? advertising and special projects:

  • Advertising. This category covers Internet components that require the purchase of online space, such as job postings, career site memberships, banners and e-newsletter sponsorships. If you’ve purchased these components in the past, review the results to determine which approaches it makes sense to use again. If you haven’t implemented these tactics before, there are some basic guidelines to keep in mind as you decide which options make the most sense for you based on your recruitment needs. Job postings are good for generating a large pool of candidates quickly. Typically, you’ll get the best results from industry-specific or niche sites. Career site memberships make sense for employers with many openings at any given time. Banner advertising is good for employer branding and driving traffic to your employment website. E-newsletter sponsorships are often successful at reaching a narrow demographic or people with specialized skills and knowledge.
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  • Special projects. The items in this category are comparable to offline components?? such as recruitment brochures, direct mail campaigns, and events?? only they are specific to the Internet. For example, if your organization has a well-established employee referral program, think of ways that you can use the Internet to complement the program. Send out regular emails to employees that market your “Hot Jobs of the Month” and encourage them to forward the emails on to friends and colleagues. If your organization’s employment website needs improvements, list this as a special project that you would like to complete during your fiscal year. Are you planning any hiring events? Collect email addresses at those events and send an electronic thank you to attendees.

2. Request details about online recruitment advertising options at the same time you request information about advertising in print publications. Not only are more print publications?? newspapers, trade journals, magazines?? now accessible online, but many also offer online advertising options such as job postings, banner advertising, and electronic sponsorships. Ask sales representatives about all options, and in particular if there are any print/online combinations available. Typically, there’s a substantial discount provided to print advertisers who purchase online space. 3. Allocate a certain portion of your budget to the Internet. It may seem surprising, but many recruitment plans lack a dedicated portion of the budget for Internet recruiting. Even if you’re not sure how much you want to or should spend on Internet recruitment, assign a certain portion during your planning phase. If you recruit for technical and professional positions, you’ll want to devote a larger percentage to Internet advertising than if you largely recruit for hourly or blue-collar positions. Regardless of the percentage you need for the Internet, you’re far more likely to implement the online strategies you’ve planned for when you’ve included them in your budget. In my experience with clients, it’s been much easier for recruiters to get their budgets for Internet advertising approved upfront than it has been to get money reassigned halfway through the fiscal year. Your Internet recruitment budget should include both anticipated media fees and special project fees. Media fees cover the costs of job postings, career site memberships, banner placement fees and e-newsletter sponsorship fees. Again, review what you’ve spent in the past, if possible, in order to determine what your budget should be. If you don’t have past data, you should have an idea of media fees from the information you received from publications during the previous step. Special project fees cover the production of artwork, such as banners, web pages, virtual postcards, and email copy. If you use an advertising agency, ask them to provide cost ranges for these services so that you can include these types of fees in your budget. Many online publications also offer creative services and should also be able to provide some sample costs. Once you’ve completed these steps, you should have a fairly accurate map of how you plan to use the Internet as part of your overall strategy as well as the budget you have available for the next phase?? execution?? which will be covered in detail in the next part of this article series.

Kendra Van Nostran is the director of Peer Group US, a division of CKR Interactive that is devoted exclusively to employee communications research, employer value proposition development and employer brand consulting. She helps clients use primary and secondary research to solve a broad range of recruitment and retention issues.

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