Corporate Eye

It’s not the R—it’s the I

On his list of “13 Trends in Corporate Recruiting for 2009” (discussed in the Fast Forward post recently), John Sullivan includes as one of the forward directions: Reinforcing the business case for recruiting.

He points out that “as budgets tighten and slow economic growth continues, recruiting budgets will face constant constraints.” How to cope? Sullivan concludes that successful organizations will “reposition themselves as non-transactional,” focusing on “systemic issues” and working with the CFO and risk management “to demonstrate the importance of supporting recruiting even during times of reduced hiring volume.”

“Key focus areas,” he suggests, will include “predictive modeling, dollarizing recruiting results, and showing the dollar impact of vacancies in revenue generating positions.”

Since Sullivan’s analysis was written (in October 2008), the news about employment has been generally overwhelmed by news of unemployment. Record numbers of lay-offs, business closings, and other factors are relentlessly reducing the number of jobs available to Americans. So while Sullivan may be absolutely right in saying that good recruiting is not less valuable when you are hiring fewer people—what if there is no hiring at all? And what if there is no money at all? Companies losing billions and firing thousands seem unlikely to spend as much money on recruiting . . .

In that scenario, even if one could “dollarize recruiting results” to show a fabulous Return on a tiny Investment, there might not be much interest in spending any dollars. And that brings us to three questions:

  1. Assuming there is a recruiting budget at all, how much of it should go to web presence, and how much to other types of outreach (advertising, outsourced staffing, job fairs, campus recruiting, etc.)?
  2. If there is a specific budget or budget area earmarked for online recruiting—how much of that should go into the website itself, and how much to other types of online presence (implementation of social media strategies, development of virtual tools and events, podcasting, vlogs, etc.)?
  3. And if there isn’t a recruiting budget at all . . . what does that mean for web presence?

One obvious hurdle in answering questions 1 and 2 is the need for metrics to support the value of web presence. While some companies (probably not most) have traffic analysis around the website itself—and may even have taken that analysis further by, for example, integrating web statistics with cost of hire—few companies will at this point have metrics that reflect the cost-to-value ratio of social media activities.

With economic concerns at the forefront of just about every business consideration these days, it’s worth taking a look at each of these questions in turn. So stay tuned for an ROI series during the month of March. And in the meantime, consider Sullivan’s detailed 2008 discussion of recruiting in hard times.

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Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.