Market research can optimize the hiring process, analyst says

OCTOBER 25, 2011 – Strategically conducting market research can help shape ad campaigns and determine what steps are necessary for adjusting public perception of a brand.

According to John Sullivan, writing for ERE Daily, research can also be highly useful for finding and hiring more of the best people for the company.

“Every recruiting leader wants top candidates, but the standard approach used by most recruiters simply doesn’t work,” he says. “A more precise data-driven approach that leverages complete understanding of the attraction factors can give you a competitive edge.”

Sullivan lists the main subjects that companies will need to find information on, including: how a potential recruit looks for available positions; which channels they turn to for communicating; and what aspects of a listing turn them away, as well as those that draw them in. Additionally, try to find out what kind of messages are most likely to catch the eyes of job seekers and what drives people who aren’t in the market for a new position to consider sending out feelers to other employers.

Always remember to follow up with your sources, to gain more insight into their thought processes and what drove them to make certain decisions, Sullivan adds.

The first step in applying a market research approach to a recruiting effort is securing the funding – by proving to decision makers the investment will pay off – and finding a research professional to help launch the project, Sullivan notes. Then narrow down the list of available information resources to those that seem most likely to provide the data and analytics that are useful for finding top talent.

“Commonly overlooked sources include desirable individuals who would not consider your firm, current top prospects, current or past candidates and new hires,” he says.

Once the company figures out which sources are the most reliable and cost-effective, set a plan for how to collect the data and turn the “actionable” insight gained from it into a strategy for seeking out and hiring the best employees.

Also consider conducting an online survey or community panel to find out what the average person is looking for in an employer when they search for jobs. Is the benefits package the greatest draw for them, or do they think work environment is a bigger priority?

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal suggests companies may also do well to look to the past when they are seeking new hires – more businesses are mining their alumni networks for strong former employees who may want to come back for a different position.

Social media networks are starting to become a market researcher’s best friend. The news source says that many online networks set up for corporate alumni were previously just a way for old coworkers to stay in touch, but now they offer a “channel for recruiting, client development and branding.”

The head of workplace-networking company Conenza, Tony Audino, told the newspaper that many of his customers – 80 percent – want to set up an alumni network to assist future hiring efforts.

While many recruiters have traditionally turned to Facebook and LinkedIn in order to find out which people are looking for jobs and what they are saying about certain companies, the corporate networks offer a more formal avenue for reaching out to potential hires, the Journal says.

Having the ability to not only view job openings, but also to send those links through other social networks – including Twitter – and email, are just a few of the benefits, according to the newspaper. Additionally, viewing where former employees go next can create new connections for the company to call up and use to its advantage when trying to make business partners or pull in more clients.