Aug 04
3 Mistakes that Can Increase Your Cost Per Hire

3 Mistakes that Can Increase Your Campus Cost Per Hire

There are plenty of viable and respectable perspectives on the cost per hire (CPH) metric. This article does not aim to usurp any of those ideas, nor does it aim to set a “new and improved” standard for understanding and applying the metric.

For our money, SHRM does a great job defining and reporting on CPH. Did you know, according to SHRM’s 2016 Human Capital Benchmarking Report, the average cost per hire (regardless of industry) is over $4,000?! Rough math tells us that the all-in cost to hire 100 new employees this year will be around $400,000. Ouch.

In this article, we discuss three mistakes that can drastically impact your campus CPH (and how to address them).

Click the above image to access the full report.

The campus talent acquisition landscape is changing.

If you can’t agree with the fact that the campus TA and university relations landscape is changing, then you should probably revisit the facts from SHRM’s 2016 Human Capital Benchmarking Report. Or, consider the trends uncovered by Bersin by Deloitte in their 2015 Talent Acquisition Factbook where they discuss why TA leaders are applying a laser-focus on how they attract and engage the talent they seek.

Candidates are not simply coming along for the recruiting ride—they’re driving the car. Now that the Internet has revolutionized candidates’ ability to search for jobs and market their skills, potential candidates can learn detailed information about an organization just by performing a quick Internet search. Candidates can find open positions located anywhere in the world, and those with critical skills in scarce supply can easily find organizations willing to pay them more money to switch employers. Further, with the advent of social media came the ubiquitous ability to passively look for jobs (even when happily employed) by posting one’s employment experience on a social or professional networking site. (Source: Bersin Blog)

Simply stated, information is KING. And thanks to technology, that information is readily available to students with all kinds of skills, competencies, motivations, and professional values. The question then, is how do you plan to get the right students excited about working for your team vs. your competitors?

Which brings us to mistake #1…

Ignoring a candidate’s desire to “discover” you.

If you’re OK with an 11% conversion rate on your career site, then you can skip this section.

Consider this scenario: Sarah, a new potential candidate, has just found her way to your career site. She’s on the verge of graduating, is interested in learning more about your company, but isn’t quite ready to start the application process. Where does she go from here? Most likely, Sarah goes to Google to conduct further research; and you never get a chance to capture her name, let alone her email address, phone number, or resume!

Are you really OK with 11%?

This is a VERY common occurrence for many, many companies. In fact, the data collected by Jobvite in 2015 suggested that if just 11% of your career site visitors actually fill out an application, then you are doing great on the aggregate. If you’re in the business of grading yourself on the curve, then I suppose you can “feel good” about 11%.

But what about the other 89% of potential candidates? What are those students looking for? Why did they leave? What could you have communicated differently to keep their attention? The best talent acquisition leaders understand that candidates (especially students) naturally share more about themselves (motivations, professional values, desires, etc.) when given a chance to “discover” opportunities that speak to who they are.

The content marketing experts at Millennial Marketing say that discovery is equal parts inspiration and exploration. Translating this to the world of talent acquisition means that companies must create a low barrier to entry by allowing students to “taste” the employer brand as an introduction without being forced to join a talent pool or complete an application.

Too many career sites jump right in with lengthy application forms. Resist that urge. It only propels the narrative that 60% of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications. This deters top talent, creates poor word-of-mouth from frustrated candidates, and inflates costs associated with abandonment in cost-per-click recruiting models.

Instead, focus on the candidate persona and their thought process. Empathize with the mindset of your ideal candidate and promote an employer brand on your career site that will resonate with that candidate.

For a deeper dive on building a stronger career website, check this out.

Or, don’t.

But ignoring a student’s desire to discover will only increase the likelihood that you commit mistake #2…

Ignoring a candidate’s desire for immediate feedback.

Unresponsive recruiters lose. Slow recruiters lose. Unhelpful recruiters lose.

We all operate in an instant-access feedback cycle of the Internet and social media. This bleeds into our working lives, where we now seek quick and actionable feedback from everyone around us, including recruiters. There are plenty of reasons why you may not immediately respond to every inquiry from every job-seeker:

  • They aren’t relevant/qualified for your opportunities.
  • They’re poking around your site during off-business hours.
  • They didn’t complete an application.
  • You assume that if they were competent, then they would’ve easily found the information on your career site that lists your company’s benefits.

Liz Ryan, a well-read career advisor on Forbes, tells job seekers that they are too important to wait for recruiters to get their act together. You may not read Liz Ryan regularly, but the students you’re trying to recruit do. We know this because we’ve published some of her content on The Whether. The engagement rate on her content is significant. I call this out only because it’s crucial that you consider the persona of your candidates. What do they care about? What are they reading? What advice are they gathering? How can you empathize with them and reflect their needs in your recruiting process?

We expect a response.

E-commerce and social media platforms have trained our brains to expect a response to the simple act of visiting a site or viewing an update. Sophisticated content marketing teams intertwine their sales process with the discovery process of the consumer. In the same way, sophisticated campus TA leaders and university relations teams understand that the career discovery process opens up an amazing opportunity to nurture students through the recruiting funnel.

Content, when paired with workflow automation, can create an amazing experience for your potential candidates.

Here’s how it can play out:

  1. Sarah (our candidate from the scenario above) visits your career site. She’s interested in learning more. And this time (instead of two paragraphs followed by an application form), you’ve positioned your employer brand front and center in a content-rich experience that has been aligned to your candidate persona.
  2. She’s interested in learning more, but not quite ready to apply. Your career site presents her with a simple form asking for her name and email address. The value proposition for her is that by doing so, your company can begin the discovery process to learn more about what motivates her and what she values professionally.
  3. When she submits her information, your workflow automatically sends her an email to thank her for visiting your site and provides a clear call-to-action (CTA) to learn more.
  4. When Sarah clicks that CTA, your system sends another piece of content that she may be interested in. (Depending on your recruiting process, this could be an invitation to participate in a discovery chat where you’ll both learn more about each other).

You didn’t get into recruiting to send follow up emails and compare resumes. You got into recruiting to help people actualize their passions in an engaging workplace. Every new career site visitor brings new potential to your organization. Put a system in place that enables your recruitment marketing content to do the early lifting for you. Then, make sure you spend time with candidates that are engaged with the vision and mission of your company.

For a deeper dive on what it means to empathize with your candidate persona, check this out.

Don’t let yourself become jaded by the mundane. Don’t let yourself become complacent in your responsiveness.

Or do.

But ignoring a candidate’s desire for immediate feedback will only increase the likelihood that you commit mistake #3…

Ignoring your candidate’s motivations.

If you don’t know “the why” then your offer won’t stand a chance.

Sales 101: Qualify, qualify, qualify. Before any pitch or proposal is made, any decent sales person knows that you absolutely must understand:

  1. why the prospect has decided to “learn more” about your products/services
  2. what the prospect is trying to accomplish
  3. what challenges keep your prospect from hitting their goals
  4. what budgetary/timing restrictions are involved with their decision-making process

What makes an offer resonate?

Let’s apply this to your recruiting process. You’ve done a great job nurturing Sarah over the past 2 weeks. She’s engaged in the conversation. The pre-screen call went well, and your hiring manager gave her a solid nod after the interview. It’s time to make the offer. She’s a strong candidate, so you don’t want to low-ball her. Afterall, she’s probably talking to several other companies. You also know that she’s incredibly focused on the opportunity to develop her leadership and team-building skills. You know this because she’s consumed and commented on nearly every piece of content that your team has produced regarding leadership advancement within your organization. With this key motivation in mind, you can present her with an offer that clearly spells out the various leadership tracks and milestones for her first 5 years at your company.

Smart move. As it turns out, one of your top competitors was also trying to recruit her. While they offered $5,000 more to start, they couldn’t clearly articulate a leadership track for her. Your vision of what she could grow into is what put your offer over the top. She took less initial money because the value of your alignment to her motivations is worth considerably more than the monetary difference. Congratulations. You’ve just recruited a fantastic new employee. Her expectations are perfectly aligned to the mission and vision of the company. She hits the ground running and never looks back.

Are you setting yourself up for an expensive CPH?

Of course, you could never even touch this scenario if you tend to commit mistakes 1, 2 or 3 in your recruiting process. Ignoring your candidate’s motivations most commonly occurs when:

  • deadlines to fill open positions are tight
  • applicants are rushed through the ATS
  • “discovery” data isn’t collected
  • communication is sparse between interest and application
  • you’re more focused on filling the position than understanding your candidates

It’s that last one that seems insurmountable. How is it possible to understand the motivations, values, and competencies of every candidate at each stage of the recruiting funnel? That’s thousands of people!


And the answer is content. Specifically, content that speaks to your ideal candidate persona about your company, your opportunities, and the traits of your ideal candidate persona. Candidates typically ask the same questions when discovering new career opportunities:

  1. What does a typical day in the life of a [position title] look like?
  2. What skills should I be acquiring today to be qualified for [position title]?
  3. What will I learn as a [position title], and what does success for the role look like?

Content can cast a wide net. It can then speak to the very motivations of individuals. The best campus TA leaders understand how to connect students to the company vision at every stage of the recruiting funnel through the power of content. As candidates engage with the employer brand, you should be gathering information about who they are, what motivates them, where they aspire to be, and how they could impact your team – all of which can be inferred from the content they consume, their responses to your direct messages and/or interview questions, and any assessments or projects that you may include in your recruiting process.

Bottom Line

The campus talent acquisition landscape is changing. Students are not simply coming along for the recruiting ride—they’re driving the car. The question, now, is how do you plan to get the right students excited about working for your team vs. your competitors?

It starts with helping students discover your employer brand. Remember: discovery is equal parts inspiration and exploration. Companies must create a low barrier to entry by allowing candidates to “taste” the employer brand as an introduction without being forced to join a talent pool or complete an application.

Sophisticated content marketing teams intertwine their sales process with the discovery process of the consumer. In the same way, sophisticated recruitment marketers understand that the career discovery process opens up an amazing opportunity to nurture students through the recruiting funnel.

And it’s the process of nurturing that uncovers a student’s motivations for discovering your company and opportunities. You can leverage these motivations to build a compelling offer. More compelling offers will increase your applicant-to-hire conversion rate. This means your yield increases; which reduces your cost per hire.

Thanks for reading. Please let us know if this was helpful –>

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