Are You Paying a Steep Applicant Tax to Attract Top Talent in Today’s Applicant Economy?

By Beth Kempton,
April 19, 2019

Tax day 2019 has officially come and gone but your business might be theoretically getting taxed in an unexpected way. Given the historically-low unemployment rate and competitive hiring market, many employers are paying far above market value to secure top talent.

Does your team measure how much you’re spending on recruitment marketing efforts – and whether or not your current recruitment marketing strategy is driving results? Below, we’ve outlined what it means to pay an “applicant tax” to secure qualified candidates and key steps to avoid overspending on your recruitment marketing.

The Costs of Investing in Only One Recruitment Marketing Channel Add Up Quickly

In an ideal scenario, your team would generate all applicant leads organically – meaning they’d be the lowest cost and the highest quality.

At the other extreme, if you didn’t receive any organic applicant traffic, you’d have to buy all your leads, which ends up being costly. The difference between these two numbers is what we’ve termed the applicant tax. Your team should aspire to reduce this applicant tax to zero.

Job creation today is growing two times faster than the available labor pool. When open roles need to be filled with quality talent as soon as possible, employers often end up paying a steep applicant tax by overspending on recruitment marketing.

Many employers rely on one-off job board postings because they have a reactive recruitment process in place – meaning they only recruit or hire new employees when there is an immediate opening. And if your team did this every time you had an open role, the costs would quickly add up. Job boards are an important piece of any company’s recruitment marketing. But in many cases, they deliver a high quantity of applicants, but low quality from a job fit perspective.

So ultimately when you compare the total cost of a single job board posting to the number of quality applicants you receive, chances are you’re getting “taxed” by overspending.

Job Board Platforms Double Down on Marketing

Job boards platform providers recognize the opportunity they face in today’s applicant-driven economy. As a result, many job boards have doubled down on their marketing investments. For example, you might have noticed job board platforms like Indeed and ZipRecruiter have started to run national television ads to entice business owners to post jobs to their platforms. And while job boards are a key piece to your recruitment marketing strategy, it’s important not to limit yourself to job boards alone.

How to Avoid Overspending on Recruitment Marketing

Job boards only deliver about 50 percent of applicants you need to fill your open roles. So how can you ensure your team isn’t overspending on recruitment marketing channels that don’t drive all the results you need? You first need to measure how much you’re spending on job boards and other recruitment marketing efforts – as you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Your team also needs to invest in your employment brand and career site just as you would your consumer-facing brand and website. And you need an effective, multi-channel recruitment strategy in place. Otherwise, you’ll overspend on one applicant channel such as a job board and your team will waste time reviewing applicants who aren’t qualified for your open roles. See below for several key tips to improve your recruitment marketing strategy.

Maintain a Strong Employment Brand and Career Site

Today’s most engaged job seekers spend a significant amount of time researching job opportunities before applying to open roles. And one of the key criteria they take into consideration when making career moves is a company’s employment brand. Recent data found that 69 percent of job seekers would reject a job offer from a company with a bad employment brand.

In today’s highly competitive applicant-driven economy, you need to sell quality talent on the opportunity joining your team presents with a strong employment brand and career site. This goes above and beyond simply salary, as top talent today is looking for far more than an exchange of time for money and you need a compelling answer to the “What’s in it for me?” question.

To get job seekers excited about your team and open roles, make sure your employment brand focuses on how job seekers to build long-term careers on your team. Your employment brand should include strong, SEO-friendly job descriptions, a compelling career site, defined career paths across departments, employee testimonials, a comprehensive list of benefits and continuous job openings. And your career site and job applications should be mobile-friendly, as 90 percent of job seekers leverage mobile devices at some point in the job search.

>> See how a strong career site helped Fox Motors boost quality applicants.

>> See how Serra Automotive Group leverages a career site to drive 50% of all hires.

In addition to attracting qualified talent, a strong career site and employment brand can drive measurable results for your business. In terms of cost savings, Hireology data found that a career site is seven times more cost-effective than job boards. And a strong employment brand can boost your applicant-to-hire conversion rate tenfold.

Optimize Your Recruitment Marketing Budget

With a great employment brand and career site, you’ll ultimately save money by spending less on job boards. But beyond driving applicants to your career site, it’s critical to understand which recruitment marketing channels lead to quality applicants – and eliminate channels that don’t drive results.

Your team likely continuously assesses which advertising channels lead to sales for your business on a daily basis. This same level of attention should be applied to the most critical component of your business – hiring quality people. Your business needs the right team in place to drive productivity, profitability and top-notch customer service.

Insights, Hireology’s analytics platform, helps you measure the success of your recruitment marketing and hiring efforts. Two of Hireology’s Insights focus specifically on ROI from your recruitment marketing channels. One of the Insights answers the question, “What is my best source of applicants?” while another insight measures the ROI driven by your career site.

Hireology’s recruitment marketing Insight offer centralized visibility into sponsored job board performance, including total sponsored posts purchased, dollars spent, quality applicants sourced, and average cost per quality applicant. And the career site ROI Insight includes data about career site performance, including subscription cost, number of applicants, number of quality applicants and cost per quality applicant.

Using Hireology’s Insights, you can ensure you’re only investing in recruitment marketing channels that lead to quality hires for your business, rather than incurring an applicant tax by overspending on one-off job board posts. And by diversifying your recruitment marketing channels – rather than buying job board postings as the need arises – you can drive more quality candidates to your open roles. Hireology data found that a multi-channel recruitment marketing strategy can drive increase your total number of quality applicants tenfold.

Another option when it comes to optimizing your recruitment marketing budget is to readjust your investment for hard-to-fill roles – such as automotive technicians if you run a dealership or caregivers if you run a home health care agency. Hireology’s automated recruitment marketing solution, Applicant Engine, taps into a network of 500+ applicant channels – including national job boards, organic search engine feeds, local classifieds, social media and other niche sources – to help you attract quality candidates for hard-to-fill roles from proven channels. By enlisting the help of a tool like Applicant Engine, you can avoid spending budget on one-off job board postings and instead shift budget to channels that result in quality applicants.

>> See how Applicant Engine helped healthcare agencies drive a 2.5x increase in quality candidates.

Taking a more strategic approach to your recruitment marketing and hiring efforts can help you staff up with quality talent in today’s competitive hiring market, while saving your team time and money. If you’re looking to improve your recruitment marketing efforts, Hireology can help – see a demo today.

About the Author

Beth is the content strategist on Hireology’s marketing team, responsible for creating compelling blog posts, eBooks, marketing materials and other content. Her background includes five years of experience at a B2B digital marketing agency, where she crafted content for a variety of clients, including several in the HR technology space. Before beginning her career, Beth attended Loyola University Chicago, where she studied advertising and public relations.

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