Employer marketing has evolved from help-wanted signs, static career sites, and word-of-mouth promotions into today’s more complex tactics and strategies, requiring robust audience insights, strategic proposition development, and activations from targeted programmatic job advertising to experiential interactions.

Unfortunately, the momentum spurring new employer branding strategies is often reactionary to current events and economic challenges, and HR departments struggle to keep up.

As a result, we often see organizations interchange their employer marketing strategies with consumer marketing. 

But employer marketing is not consumer marketing. 

Employer marketing vs. consumer marketing

Marketing is a multifaceted field encompassing various strategies and techniques tailored to target specific audiences. Two essential branches of marketing are employer marketing and consumer marketing. 

While employer and consumer marketing share common ground, their objectives, target audiences, messaging, and channels make them uniquely different.

Consumer marketing drives brand awareness, loyalty and product or service sales.  Employer marketing helps you attract and retain the top talent you need to achieve your consumer marketing goals. By recognizing the nuances of each, talent teams can optimize their marketing efforts and achieve greater success in both areas.

Employer marketing refers to the strategies and activities undertaken by an organization to meet their talent acquisition and retention goals. It involves promoting and driving perceptions of the organization as an 'employer of choice,’ highlighting the most relevant and distinguishing characteristics the organization offers employees (often referred to as its employer value proposition or EVP) to job candidates and current employees.

Consumer marketing also aims to attract people to its brand to encourage people to buy its products and/or services, not hire them. Consumer marketing focuses on highlighting the most relevant and distinguishing characteristics of their products and services to current or potential customers to buy or buy more of them.

While both branches leverage marketing techniques and principles to create awareness and generate interest, it is crucial to understand that they have different goals and objectives.

Unique considerations and strategies

Audience segmentation

Employer marketing: Employer marketing focuses on attracting and engaging potential employees and engaging with current employees for retention. Employers must segment these talent audiences, and understand potential and/or current employees’ needs, aspirations, and career goals, to create tailored messaging to engage and attract the right candidates.

Messaging should reflect the candidate’s career motivations and personal needs. According to the Talent Board’s 2022 North American Candidate Experience Benchmark Research Report, 29% of candidates said they wanted even more information about company culture, and 27% wanted more information on why current employees want to work for an employer. By delivering targeted, relevant content, employers can meet candidate expectations for that information and support candidate self-selection early in the process, ensuring more right-fit talent remain in the talent pool. 

Consumer marketing: Conversely, consumer marketing appeals to a consumer base. Like employer branding, consumer marketing audience segmentation involves segmenting based on demographic, geographic, psychographic, or behavioral factors. While the segmentation practice may be similar, the types of audiences and goals will differ. Consumer marketers aim to understand consumer preferences, purchase behavior, and motivations to develop effective marketing campaigns that drive product or service sales, not employment. 

PRO TIP: From the first moment you interact with talent, the experience should be positive, affirming, and relevant. That engagement then needs to become increasingly relevant based on the stage and behavior of the prospect for conversion to occur. Once it does, you must hold their interest and maintain a relationship to keep them warm to your brand. Learn more on how to build and maintain your talent pipeline.

Objectives and conversion metrics

Employer marketing: The core objective of employer marketing is to build and enhance an organization’s employer brand to attract, recruit, and retain top talent. Success is measured through metrics such as the number of qualified applicants, employee retention rates, and overall employer reputation. Conversion in employer marketing refers to candidates accepting job offers and becoming valuable employees.

High recruitment marketing ROI that results in high-quality employees hired and retained within the company positively contributes to the company’s bottom line. Finding, connecting, qualifying, and hiring the right talent for your organization — and filling those open positions effectively — has numerous benefits, including:

Measuring these key data points allows you to gain insight into the holistic recruitment process, from the candidate’s first impression to the hiring stage and beyond.

Consumer marketing: Consumer marketing seeks to drive consumer engagement, increase brand awareness, and boost product or service sales. Conversion metrics in consumer marketing often revolve around sales figures, conversion rates, customer acquisition, loyalty, and brand affinity.

PRO TIP: HR analytics can be a game-changer when adequately employed, lending visibility to your efforts by tracking and measuring meaningful HR initiatives and goals. The tracking of KPIs can include everything from turnover rates to employee retention and the cost of benefits versus the utilization of benefits. Learn more about HR analytics. 

Messaging and value proposition

Employer marketing: Effective employer marketing involves communicating their unique employer value proposition (EVP). The EVP showcases what you have to offer an employee and, just as important, what you expect in return. It will highlight factors such as:  

Messaging should appeal to a prospective employee's emptions, expectations, needs, and career aspirations.

Unfortunately, according to the 2023 HR Trends Report, only 22% of organizations report they have an EVP, with 24% saying they are currently working on one. This indicates a significant area for growth among organizations as they compete for top talent.

Consumer Marketing: Consumer marketing messages revolve around a product or service’s benefits, features, and unique selling points. Marketers aim to highlight how their offering solves a consumer problem, fulfills a desire, or enhances their lives. The messaging is crafted to resonate with the consumer’s emotions, needs, and aspirations.

PRO TIP: Every touchpoint impacts your employer brand, whether good, bad or indifferent. Defining your EVP is the framework used to create and manage experiences from the first interaction a candidate has to when that person converts to a valued employee throughout their whole time working for you to when they’re an alumnus. Learn more about EVP and your employer brand. 

Channels and platforms

Employer marketing: Employer marketing utilizes channels that reach potential candidates actively seeking employment. These may include online job boards, professional networking platforms like LinkedIn, career fairs, campus recruitment, and targeted advertising on industry-specific websites. It also leverages employer branding efforts on social media platforms and showcases the organization’s workplace culture through employer review platforms like Glassdoor.

Consumer marketing: Consumer marketing leverages channels and platforms where the target audience spends their time. This can include television, radio, print media, social media platforms, search engine marketing, influencer collaborations, email marketing, and more. The objective is to meet consumers where they are and engage with them effectively.

PRO TIP: Candidates expect employers to try to reach them where they are, meaning employers must leverage the right channels to communicate with prospective employees. From social media and online job boards to in-person hiring events and other avenues, finding the right talent has become a two-way street. Learn more about shifting candidate expectations and the tactics to attract them today. 

Employer marketing to attract, hire, and retain top talent 

It’s no secret that marketing helps companies build awareness and drive conversions. Still, the audience they are targeting and the methods they use to convert that audience differs depending on the overarching goal. Talent teams must embrace employer marketing to attract, hire, and retain top talent. With the right blend of EVP,  employer branding, targeted messaging and content through relevant channels, and other strategies. Employers can strike the right note and expand their talent network of right-fit candidates. 

Do you need help figuring out where to start, or do you need a partner with expertise in this area to help? We’d love to support you! Grab some time with one of our experts to get the conversation started.

Encouraging internal talent mobility is becoming more of a priority for companies than ever before, and talent teams are finding assessments — now used throughout the talent funnel — are key when advancing candidates … even post-hire.

If a recruiter fills a job opening, and it’s open again in three months, is that really filling it?

That’s the question Symphony Talent’s Kara Polk, Program Director, Assessments, asked in a recent Symphony Talent fireside chat on how talent teams can employ assessments with a company’s employee value proposition to better compete for job candidates. She quickly followed it with another question: “And, are we thinking about this in a way that is driving the bottom line, as an organization?”

These are core questions facing talent acquisition teams today. Recruitment of external candidates will always be an important part of talent acquisition. However, as Polk implies, retention can and should have a much greater focus within comprehensive talent recruitment strategies — especially in today’s competitive labor market.

Connection between internal mobility and assessments

Retention goes hand in hand with internal mobility, the practice of moving current employees to different roles in the same company. Successful companies deeply value their talent and prioritize retention and internal talent mobility to drive growth rather than depending on recruiting alone.

At Symphony Talent, we are seeing organizations that demonstrate successful recruitment marketing right now are not relying on hiring alone to acquire in-demand skills. After they’ve gained an accurate understanding of the skills they have in-house and the skills they will soon need, they prioritize ways to acquire those skills for the long run — mainly through retention and upskilling, with the help of targeted assessments.

“Employees want to know how organizations are investing in them,” Polk says. “And, employees want that investment, they want to be developed.” Study after study, she says, shows candidates-turned-employees are looking for genuine internal opportunities for career growth.

“They are asking, ‘Where am I at today, and where do I need to be to get to the next level within my company?’”

Assessments, often underused post-hire, can be a great tool to help answer those questions, Polk says. “You can give employees assessments, go over the results with them, and then the next step in their professional growth. That sets them on a path to grow and also empowers their managers to provide responsible and effective coaching to get employees to the next level.”

HR research shows that it is not only more cost effective overall to develop internal talent to fill new roles, but internal mobility also:

Just as critical, a company that is willing to identify skill gaps and then develop and reposition people into emerging roles will become a much stronger talent magnet when it is necessary to hire from the outside.

Internal mobility's role in employee retention

Although it seems counterintuitive, companies that are the most successful at attracting and retaining talent know the value of giving internal candidates priority for job openings.

That’s because job mobility is at an all-time high. Employees are more empowered than ever. This has forced talent teams to identify the journeys and experiences that make employees happy.

Recent research from McKinsey & Company shows that 60% of those who have recently reentered the workforce following the Great Resignation would leave if there were a lack of career opportunities within their company.

“We learned from the pandemic that we can move people around inside the company pretty quickly, and they adapt pretty fast,” HR analyst Josh Bersin has said in a podcast when talking about top trends in the industry. “The workforce is a lot more resilient than we maybe ever thought.”

Understanding this, Bersin says, “really turns companies into internal talent marketplaces. And in a talent marketplace, you as a recruiter are recruiting inside as well as outside.”

Internal talent mobility may be a buzzword right now, but rarely is it discussed alongside the use of assessments.

“My feeling is that recruitment marketing never really connected with assessments, even though, to me, they are very connected,” Polk says. “Connecting them has always been Symphony Talent’s vision.” 

Because of today’s challenging market conditions and the cost to fill skilled jobs, companies are beginning to view their employees and the skills they bring — both known skills and unknown skills unveiled during assessments — in a different light.

Internal mobility career sites

Loren Nelson, Vice President, Solutions Engineer, for Symphony Talent, has seen clients recently “light up” with interest about creating internal mobility career sites, but he still thinks the movement to promote internal mobility within the industry lags. Symphony Talent clients that have focused on internal mobility sites, and have done an exceptional job with them, he says, include Edward Jones, Hilton Grand Vacations, and Moody’s.

“I often say to clients who have beautiful, wonderful career sites for external candidates, ‘Why wouldn't you want to give your own employees the same great experience that you're giving to outside people?’ More clients are really thinking about that,” he says.

Most organizations, of course, do have internal job databases, fed by their applicant tracking systems, and they make use of intranet sites. But often those sites are meager, stark, less attended to and, in general, less than encouraging.

It’s estimated that only one out of three companies actively encourages internal promotion and cross-departmental movement among workers, which means a vast majority are losing out on many of the undisputed benefits that come from promoting within. 

Talent mobility has been proven to have a positive impact on company culture and the fulfillment of career goals — two of the top factors that cause employees to leave.

“We have some clients that have always thought about internal mobility and have made it a part of their brand,” Polk says. “Molson Coors is that way — they really want to promote from within. Union Pacific is that way, too. But I think other companies are slow to promote from within, even though the benefits are well-known.”

Supporting DEI initiatives

A focus on internal mobility not only saves companies thousands of dollars when replacing employees who leave for other opportunities, but it also greatly supports DEI efforts — a major culture focus of more and more organizations.

Candidates from under-represented backgrounds, for example, have much to gain in a company encouraging internal mobility and using assessments to aid in career growth. Historically, Polk says, those in marginalized groups might be slower to raise their hands, thinking they are not ready for that internal move. “But if they are able to go through an assessment and see they did well, they might think, ‘Maybe I am ready. I don’t know why I thought I wasn’t!’”

Sometimes the most-skilled or best-fit candidate for an emerging role is already working at your company. And assessments — in a matter of minutes — help companies find them.

Tips to institute a culture of internal mobility, aided by assessments

Here are some tips for instituting a culture of internal mobility, aided by assessments, within your organization:

Above all, if you want your internal mobility programs to thrive, your company has to be transparent and upfront about promoting it. As challenging as it is to find the right talent, it’s even more important to retain and develop them once they’re on the job. 

Symphony Talent offers a complete internal mobility solution that extends your recruiting strategy and efforts to your internal talent pool. With all the tools you use to recruit external talent at your fingertips, we can help make your internal mobility strategy come to life quickly and easily. 

Check out Symphony Talent’s assessments, powered by SkillCheck, and be sure to reach out to an expert for an even deeper dive. 

Predicting employee engagement and performance is the holy grail of talent acquisition. Getting it right means talent teams have done their due diligence and properly vetted candidates using multivariate analysis that includes talent assessments, interviews, resume reviews, reference checks, and other touch points. 

Today, talent assessments have risen as the “hidden gem” of talent acquisition, offering an unbiased and objective assessment of a candidate’s skills, behaviors, cognitive aptitudes, and more. 

We all know that selecting right-fit candidates is essential to business success, especially in a volatile or uncertain economy and job market where competition is high and resources are tight. But therein lies the challenge. Talent acquisition professionals must utilize the right blend of technology, talent assessments, employer branding and value propositions, and a structured process to screen candidates and select the individuals who show the most potential for high performance and engagement.

According to Talent Board’s 2022 North American Candidate Experience Benchmark Research Report, “in 2022, 45% of organizations said they used pre-employment assessment and selection tests prior to the interview, and only 19% did so post-interview.” Among those who employed talent assessments, 54% did so with the goal of making better candidate selections, 33% aimed to improve new hire performance, and 27% sought to increase early retention. 

These goals reflect an increased need to not only fill open positions and resolve staffing or skills gaps, but to do so in a way that better predicts performance and engagement. After all, when an employee is engaged and valued, their performance improves and they are more likely to stay and grow within the organization. 

Looking specifically at talent assessments, here are four ways talent teams can leverage assessments to better predict job performance and employee engagement.   

#1: Take a closer look at a candidate’s unique behavioral patterns, tendencies, and temperament with behavioral assessments 

Behavioral and personality assessments provide insight into a person’s unique tendencies and temperament. For example, they can shine light on a person’s openness to experience, leadership styles, organizational abilities, interpersonal skills, and more. These qualitative data points can help talent teams better gauge employee engagement and productivity, which are key components of high job performance. 

Studies show that 89% of hiring failures can be attributed to attitude and behavior, and only 11% to technical skills. This emphasizes the importance of behavioral and personality assessments in the hiring process to gain greater visibility into and understanding of a potential candidate and how they will assimilate into the organization.

#2: Measure your candidate’s ability to learn, process information, and perform necessary functions with cognitive assessments

Talent acquisition isn’t just about finding the right person for the job, at that specific moment. It’s about finding the right person who can not only perform the job they were hired for, but who also exhibits cognitive capabilities and aptitudes for growth within the company. With the help of cognitive assessments, talent teams can evaluate skills such as reasoning, perception, memory, and problem-solving. 

Increased cognitive function has been linked to greater job satisfaction, lower stress levels, and improved interpersonal relationships. According to a 2022 study published in Personality and Individual Differences, “higher cognitive ability is associated with lower psychological distress (i.e., symptoms of depression and anxiety) as well as with higher psychological well-being (i.e., positive affect and life satisfaction).” 

#3 Determine whether a candidate is a good fit for the company culture with culture-fit assessments  

Knowledge and skills are only part of the equation when determining company fit. Alignment with the company’s core values and ways of working are equally important. Culture-fit assessments can shed light on the seemingly unmeasurable qualities that signal a candidate will fit in well with the team. When employees are aligned with the company culture and core values, they are naturally more engaged and productive, which leads to greater retention.

According to new research published in Organization Science, culture fit can be viewed from two perspectives: value congruence and perceptual congruence. Value congruence “refers to the match between an employee’s values and those of an organization.” Perceptual congruence, on the other hand, refers to “the degree to which employees are able to accurately perceive an organization’s culture and adjust their behavior to fit in.” They are two sides of the same coin, and can be qualitatively measured through the use of targeted culture-fit and behavioral assessments.

#4 Verify candidates are competent in the skills required to effectively perform the job with skills-based assessments  

Skills-based assessments are a clear indicator of competency. Can the individual competently perform the tasks needed for the position? It’s a simple question, but one that carries a great deal of weight when every hire counts. Role-based skills assessments, such as hourly, administrative, customer care, sales, or management, can help employers further refine their selection process.    

According to McKinsey & Company, “Through a skills-based approach, companies can boost the number and quality of applicants who apply to open positions and can assist workers to find more opportunities to advance internally, which can help employers improve retention.” 

Adopting talent assessments across the full talent journey 

Talent acquisition is a critical component of an organization’s success. Hiring right-fit talent requires a multi-pronged approach, with talent assessments riding in the sidecar along the way. From initial vetting and hiring to employee engagement and retention, talent assessments hold the keys to better understanding the health of your organization and addressing skills or staffing gaps proactively. 

Curious to see how talent assessments can maximize your talent pipeline and drive better hires who remain with your organization? Check out Symphony Talent’s assessments, powered by SkillCheck, and be sure to reach out to an expert for an even deeper dive. 

As threats of a recession loom and the talent landscape remain in flux, many organizations are taking a closer look at their existing talent acquisition and employee retention strategies with a keen eye toward opportunities for optimization. Those who adopt an agile recruitment approach will garner increased resilience amid economic turbulence, employee turnover, candidate expectation shifts, or other influencing factors.

Agile hiring strategies are based on proven Lean methodologies used for years in the manufacturing and software industries. The approach is simple: the recruitment process is broken down into sprints with clearly defined goals. Each sprint is typically one to two weeks in duration and includes daily check-in meetings (commonly referred to as standups) and a collaborative task board to visually move specific tasks through to completion. This approach aims to increase the recruitment process's speed, improve collaboration, and deliver better results.

The talent acquisition agile framework

The agile framework can be broken down into three main components: process, team, and technology. Looking at this framework from a recruitment standpoint:

Beyond the agile framework, teams should cultivate contingent hires, improve employee retention, optimize the candidate journey, implement technology, and leverage market insights.

Strategy 1: Cultivate contingent or contract hires

Contingent workers (also known as “gig” workers) are expected to grow by more than 10% over the next several years, as businesses seek to scale up or down their workforce to meet market needs. In fact, some estimates suggest the number of contingent or contract workers in the U.S. could reach 90.1 million by 2028. According to McKinsey & Company, 36% of the workforce in 2022 self-identified as independent contractors, and researchers from MIT and Deloitte recently found that “In some cases, we see upwards of 30%-50% of an organization composed of contingent workers, and organizations increasingly relying on third parties to deliver some of their most essential services.”

Diversifying your staff with a mix of full-time and contract workers will enable your team to more easily scale up or down as needed. Contract workers may support specific projects on a short-term basis, bringing in the necessary skills to get a job done without the hefty overhead expenses. Or, contract workers may serve a specific function over a longer-term arrangement. In either scenario, the employer and individual have increased flexibility.

The needs of an organization can ebb and flow, so it's critical that employers build long-term relationships with these "temporary" or contract-only individuals.

But what do contingent or contract workers want and need to stay engaged? Above all, they seek flexibility, competitive compensation, and opportunities. Organizations can attract and retain the right talent by making these central to the contingent worker experience.

Teams also should consider emphasizing:

Strategy 2: Improve employee retention

Nurturing your existing talent is foundational to a strong hiring strategy. Just as new talent wants to be wooed, your internal team needs to feel valued, cared for, and engaged. Your career site should clearly articulate your brand story, company values, DEI initiatives, and what makes your company and team special. Consider it an opportunity to lean into your work culture in an authentic and aspirational way.

At the core of employee retention lies satisfaction. Employees are more likely to remain with the organization when they are happy, engaged, and challenged. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), five key ways to improve employee satisfaction include:

  1. Respectful treatment of all employees at all levels.
  2. Compensation/pay.
  3. Trust between employees and senior management.
  4. Job security.
  5. Opportunities to use their skills and abilities at work.

Another opportunity to foster greater employee satisfaction is through promoting team accomplishments and opportunities, both internally and externally. Be sure to highlight your Employee Community Groups, presenting them as a resource for your internal team as they continue down their career paths. Consider featuring day-in-the-life videos and thoughtful testimonials from fellow colleagues, letting them present your company values, goals and objectives in a way that resonates with their colleagues and potential candidates.

When employees are happy, they are more likely to refer their friends and professional network to your company.

Strategy 3: Optimize the candidate journey

The talent acquisition landscape has transformed. Candidates today expect seamless interactions supported by technology. They want better visibility into the process and enhanced communication with potential employer organizations. Employers need to up their game to attract the right talent for their open positions.

Optimizing the all-important job description is a perfect place to start. While often overlooked by busy functional managers who are deep in the weeds of day-to-day responsibilities, talent acquisition leaders must partner with respective hiring managers to develop a clear and accurate job description. Getting this step right is essential to the success and speed of recruitment.

Poor job descriptions too often get in the way of a successful recruitment process, especially if they are unclear about a role's responsibilities and expectations. Successful job descriptions are not only clear and concise, they are aligned with your hiring strategy and overarching company goals.

Good job descriptions are:

Moreover, successful job posts leverage data to target advertisements to the right people. As they say, you can have the best job description and opportunity at your company, but if no one sees it, it won't matter.

Once you've attracted talent to your doorstep, the next step is to employ skills-based assessments to ensure you're hiring the right-fit talent with the required skills and expertise. This is a win-win benefit for both employers and candidates as it confirms a good match between the two. When there's a good match, satisfaction and retention are more likely.

Strategy 4: Implement technology

According to our 2023 research study, while satisfaction with current talent/employee acquisition efforts is generally high (75%), organizations lack skilled candidates, old processes, and ineffective technologies that hinder recruitment. Data also suggests an inability to create meaningful connections with candidates, demonstrating a shift in the talent acquisition landscape and candidate experience.

Other cited challenges included:

Unfortunately, many recruiting technologies still lack the ability to integrate smoothly into an organization's tech stack, which means hiring teams are forced to continue using manual processes and workarounds to get their jobs done. That leaves little time for the relationship-building crucial to successful hiring and retention.

Teams must embrace advanced recruiting technologies, with a special emphasis on integrated technology and automation. Not only can these solutions improve efficiencies within the recruiting team, but they also provide much-needed visibility and connection with prospective candidates.

Common technology solutions such as applicant tracking systems (ATS) and candidate relationship management (CRM) systems may be siloed, causing communication and collaboration challenges across the recruiting team and slowing down the overall process.

The good news is teams can optimize their workflow with standard integrations that:

The world of recruitment marketing and talent acquisition is filled with critical nuances and expertise that not all software partners can offer. Functionality, expertise, and strong integrations should always trump disparate technology interfaces. The business cost of maintaining various recruitment technology interfaces compared with the business value always ends up more costly in terms of time and results.

Another challenge many organizations face? Not harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) in their recruitment efforts. Incorporating AI into your tech stack enables your team to:

Creating an agile hiring strategy starts with a clearly defined framework and ends with smart hiring practices that improve the candidate and recruiter experience. Talent acquisition today may have transformed, but there are some tried-and-true principles that can help organizations build resilience and encourage growth.

All companies today are facing a similar challenge: How to address internal resource constraints in an uncertain economy to ensure they attract, hire, and retain best-fit talent — especially for highly skilled or hard-to-fill positions. By combining targeted talent assessments with a clearly articulated employer brand and value proposition at every touch point, talent teams can not only provide a better candidate experience, but also gain the competitive edge they need in today’s market.

In fact, that’s exactly what we discussed during a fireside chat with Symphony Talent’s Kara Polk, Program Director, Assessments, and Lizzie Barrett, Vice President, Group Brand Strategy. 

Watch the full, on-demand session: 

Key Takeaways: 

What is an EVP? An Employer Value Proposition (EVP) commonly refers to the employment offer for talent that goes beyond compensation and into other, more emotional factors. This typically includes messaging around learning and development, culture and ways of working, purpose, employee expectations, and other factors. Another way of looking at it, EVP is the positioning, messaging, tone of voice, and personality of your employment offer, amplified through branded experiences throughout the talent journey, from reach to retention.

What effect does EVP have on the talent pipeline? First, it’s important to remember that your talent pipeline doesn’t start with active recruitment. More often than not, it begins long before the first known engagement. It’s at this stage that a strong EVP and employer brand really shine as they build brand awareness, interest, and ultimately the earliest stages of your pipeline. A smart EVP leans into messaging that aligns with an organization's core values and expectations, which means it can help potential talent self-select into or out of the recruitment process based on that information. Ensuring you have a well-articulated EVP that is infused into every touch point is essential to drive consistency, build brand awareness, and support a healthy talent pipeline. 

How and why are assessments used to filter candidates for hiring? Think of it like an ecosystem. You may think that your brand and selection process are different, but they’re very much in the same ecosystem. They can work together to find the right talent and attract them to your organization. Talent assessments provide an unbiased and objective view of candidates within your talent network, which enables talent teams to further refine and narrow down the best-fit candidates for an open position. The added due diligence that assessments provide  helps to minimize turnover and increase the likelihood of high-quality, right-fit talent joining your organization.

How can assessments and EVP address new candidate expectations? It’s no secret that candidate expectations have transformed. The stress and struggle of the past few years for people on multiple levels means candidates are more attuned to predicting and anticipating their experience with an organization. Candidates no longer just want another job, they want to find a place where they fit and can thrive. This often looks like anthropomorphizing organizations, meaning assigning them human characteristics and relating to them as humans. These characteristics allow candidates to look for commonalities between the perceived core values of the organization and their own. From the employer perspective, this further elevates the importance of a strong EVP and employer brand, accompanied by relevant talent assessments that can help both sides assess whether the candidate-employer match is, indeed, the best fit. 

Explore more about the talent assessment and EVP connection by watching the on-demand fireside chat above. 

Or, if you’re ready to dig in even deeper, reach out to one of our experts to see how talent assessments can strengthen your recruitment process and talent pipeline, or for help refining and strengthening your EVP and employer brand.

Talent assessments have proven useful in identifying and hiring right-fit candidates, assessing existing skills and competencies among employees, resolving skills and staffing gaps, and supporting retention initiatives. Yet, despite their obvious and proven benefits across the talent journey, some HR and talent acquisition professionals may be hesitant to adopt assessments into their recruitment and workforce planning processes. 

Incorporating assessments into the hiring process might be seen as a friction point for candidates, with the perception that the process is too long or challenging. From the talent acquisition perspective, the fear of adding friction to the process and potentially losing out on great candidates may deter talent teams from fully considering the benefits. It's a situation that has confronted talent teams for years.  

Are you getting the most out of your talent assessments? 

Types of talent assessments used today 

Assessing talent is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Just as your company, roles, and candidates/employees are unique, so are the assessments needed to evaluate their skills, competencies, aptitudes, and personalities. There are three primary categories of talent assessments: 

  1. Behavioral: These assessments take a closer look at a candidate’s behavioral tendencies and personality traits. Questions in this type of assessment may present a situation, task, action, or result, and ask the candidate to share how they would respond or handle that scenario, with specific examples. Other questions present a statement and ask the candidate to either agree or disagree that it describes them. Answers to these questions can indicate certain personality traits. 
  2. Cognitive: These assessments evaluate a candidate’s mental processes and aptitudes, such as reasoning, perception, memory, and problem-solving. Questions in this type of assessment may include logic problems, math equations, reading comprehension, or spatial reasoning. 
  3. Skills / knowledge: These assessments are targeted at a specific job, skill set, or career level (e.g., entry-level) to provide greater insight into a candidate’s skills and capabilities for the chosen job function. 

Talent acquisition teams – in both the public and private sectors – are seeing the value of assessments and adopting them into their hiring and employee retention programs. For example, new legislation with the Chance to Compete Act aims to leverage skills-based assessments to improve federal hiring processes and secure more right-fit candidates in the most appropriate roles. 

Among companies in the private sector, assessments are quickly rising in popularity and usefulness in both pre-hire and post-hire situations, allowing talent teams to more accurately assess candidates and predict job performance. Symphony Talent delivered about 1.5 million assessments in 2022, representing a notable increase from the previous year. 

How talent assessments are incorporated into the talent journey 

Talent assessments can (and should) be used throughout the talent journey, from candidate to employee. In the early stages of the hiring process, talent assessments can be used to gauge specific credentials, skills, and behaviors that can provide a unique and unbiased view into a potential candidate. This not only helps talent teams quickly and easily identify right-fit talent for open positions and predict job performance and culture fit, but it also provides candidates a greater understanding of the desired skills and competencies for the job and the value that the hiring team places in choosing who will be the best fit.

To avoid any unnecessary friction or assessment completion drop-offs, talent teams should prioritize infusing their employer brand and value proposition into the entire hiring process, including any assessments. This creates a seamless and consistent candidate experience through all touch points, helping to build stronger employer-candidate connections that lead to high-quality hires. 

Beyond the initial hire, talent assessments allow talent teams to identify and resolve staffing and skills gaps, support career development opportunities, and provide data-backed recommendations to improve workforce management and performance. 

Assessing the ROI of talent assessments 

Incorporating assessments into your recruitment and workforce planning process is a strategic business decision that will not only affect talent teams, but also the financial performance and reputation of your company.

To gauge the ROI your team can expect by adding assessments into your hiring and employee retention processes, consider the following example of inputs and outputs: 

Investment Return / Benefits
Candidate time to complete assessment: Faster time-to-fill
Talent professional time to administerGreater employee engagement and culture fit
Financial investment in assessment softwareMore accurate prediction of job performance 
Improved retention 
Decreased hiring costs

The investment in time and effort for assessments are minimal for both candidates and talent team members, while the return can be tremendous. Symphony Talent assessments, powered by SkillCheck, are easily administered, with clear guidance and an easy-to-use interface, removing much of the perceived friction and creating a seamless experience that delivers results. And, with a robust library available, Symphony Talent clients have even greater flexibility and can truly customize their assessment experience for any number of roles or career levels. 

When talent assessments are implemented correctly and supported with a clear and consistent brand story they can provide a tremendous value to both individuals and their respective employers. Talent assessments are a proven, science-backed method for evaluating candidates and employees to drive better performance, engagement, and retention. Learn more about how assessments can integrate into your talent acquisition processes by visiting Symphony Talent Assessments.

We are at an interesting crossroads for recruitment marketing (and all digital marketing, for that matter), with fresh approaches to proven tactics and strategies rising among talent teams, powered by deep data insights, automation, and amazing creative. The future of recruitment marketing will be marked by significant growth, genuine curiosity, and a more integrated strategy that encompasses the entire talent journey.

Throughout the talent funnel, we are seeing a notable evolution in data-driven media strategy. Recruitment marketing-savvy companies understand it’s not just a question of one channel or tactic, but rather a true ad tech approach that leverages omnichannel data to drive desired outcomes. Talent acquisition teams that understand this — as well as the link between recruitment marketing ROI and business outcomes, and evolving data privacy regulations — will stay ahead of the competition and win more talent.

A greater focus on your ad tech ecosystem will mean asking questions such as:

All teams, of course, are looking for new ways to optimize resources and tighten budgets without losing traction with talent or diminishing results. Which is why, as a talent leader, you should ask yourself those previous questions.

Talent teams are demonstrating a clear shift toward growth in their approach to recruitment marketing. Many teams are moving from efficient to agile, and some are taking it a step further by becoming more proactive. But that’s not the end of the journey. We can and should aim for a more predictive approach. One that leverages data to predict when recruiting and associated marketing will need to ramp or taper, or to gauge right-fit with an organization, allowing talent teams to truly target the best talent for their companies and roles at the right time, while optimizing spend. 

Data will allow us to get there. And not just through ads, but by employing the entire recruitment marketing ecosystem.

The link between recruitment marketing ROI and business goals 

Today, many Symphony Talent clients are focusing on deeper insights into the talent journey, including time to apply and time to fill. These recruitment marketing metrics are not only helpful for workforce planning, but they also contribute to greater business objectives and financial targets. 

High recruitment marketing ROI that results in high-quality employees hired and retained within the company faster, positively contributes to the company’s bottom line. Finding, connecting, qualifying, and hiring the right talent for your organization – and filling that open position in an effective amount of time – has numerous benefits, including less productivity downtime through vacancy, greater resource allocation, improved team engagement, and more.  

Although there might have been a perceived divide between talent teams and the core business performance in the past, that silo is quickly breaking down. We’re seeing more talent teams earning a seat at the table, and offering rich talent data that supports growth and retention. That data is linking directly to the company’s financial stability in terms of reduced time-to-fill positions, employee productivity, and reduced turnover. 

Traditional advertising cost metrics remain important considerations. Cost-per-impression, cost-per-click, cost-per-apply and, ultimately, cost-per-hire, have historically been key indicators of the success of a marketing strategy. They should always be a factor in your approach. However, optimizing purely for low cost, at the expense of time to fill, ultimately hurts more than it helps. Sacrificing time-to-fill positions leads to higher cost-per-vacancy, which results in lost revenue. 

Think about that potentially across thousands of hires per year, and the financial impact can be dramatic.

Data privacy and an impending end to third-party cookies

There’s a delicate balance between protecting data privacy and finding ways to use that personal information to inform business decisions and recruitment practices. As an industry, we have already seen and adapted to data privacy legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which leveled up the way we collect, use, and store personal information. 

Looking ahead, Google has announced plans to phase out third-party cookies on its browser by the end of 2024, which will have a major impact on recruitment marketing. According to Google, the goal of this shift is to give “people more transparency and greater control over how their data is used.” This means recruitment teams will need to shift away from third-party cookie usage in favor of first-party data as a means of targeting talent and tracking digital marketing performance.

Cookies are essentially small files that store personal information and digital activity to improve the visitor experience. A third-party cookie can be generated from any domain and is often associated with advertisements, enabling companies to serve relevant ads to individuals based on cookie information. A first-party cookie is created on a specific site that an individual directly visits and can be used to personalize their experience and track activity across pages. While these two types of cookies are similar, the primary difference is the intention behind their creation and the distribution of that data.

It’s important to understand the new rules surrounding data privacy to ensure that your approach and recruitment tech stack are equipped to work with these evolving requirements and potential limitations. At Symphony Talent, we continually monitor data privacy updates to ensure our solutions – and, in turn, our clients’ solutions – are always in compliance with the latest rules and regulations. 

3 actions you can take now 

While there’s a lot happening in the world of recruitment marketing right now, much more is coming. So what can you do now to prepare? 

  1. Review your current data privacy policies and tactics. 
  2. Be proactive in reducing (or eliminating) your reliance on third-party cookie data for your recruitment campaigns. At Symphony Talent, we use first-party cookie data, which means your campaigns won’t miss a beat, regardless of when Google implements their official deprecation of third-party cookies. 
  3. Review your existing media strategy and start asking questions to dig a little deeper into what the data is telling you … or identify the questions that you can’t answer due to gaps in your data.

The future of recruitment marketing is data-driven, so assessing your current data landscape is essential to stay ahead. If you’re not sure where to start or you need some support, we’d be happy to help. You can set up some time with one of our experts here.

There’s a common understanding among most talent acquisition teams this year — the need to optimize resources in accordance to the ebb and flow of our economy and job market. Even the federal government’s HR leaders, hiring managers, and recruiters are asking, How best can we find and quickly hire the right talent to fill our open positions? 

The answer they arrived at — perhaps serving as a market indicator around hiring trends — may surprise you in its simplicity: skills-based assessments.

The Chance to Compete Act, which passed overwhelmingly in the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 24 and is now in the Senate, intends to reduce the skills gap and talent shortage within the government by reshaping federal job recruitment and hiring practices, with specific focus on skills-based assessments to identify and hire right-fit talent for government positions, regardless of agency.

“Candidate assessments, which assess competency and culture fit, are not new to the recruitment scene,” said Kara Polk, Program Director, Assessments at Symphony Talent. “But this U.S. legislation marks a fundamental shift in recruitment in the public sector, and it’s a clear indicator of additional market movement in the private sector as well.” 

Symphony Talent has seen a marketed uptick in candidate assessment use through its website SkillCheck.com. According to Polk, use of assessments rose 26.5% from 2021 to 2022. “Companies are not only competing to bring in top talent, but also identify skilled workers within their existing team who will elect to grow and move up in their careers, while staying within the organization. Assessments can help hiring teams find those candidates. And they are simple to use.”

William Shackelford, President of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association in Alexandria, Virginia, recently commented, "Current federal hiring processes are stifling the government's ability to bring in the talent necessary for it to effectively serve the American people. Federal agencies currently suffer from mission-critical skills gaps. Competitive hiring practices are central to the concept of merit-based hiring, whereby employees are hired based on their qualifications. This bill addresses those issues by providing common sense steps to improve competitive hiring practices and increase hiring efficiency."

That’s a sentiment and goal shared by many of today’s recruitment teams.

Impact of assessments on hiring teams

In the face of a turbulent and uncertain economy, fluctuations in candidate and employee expectations, shifting business priorities, and more, many companies are feeling the pressure to reassess, reallocate, and redefine their recruitment and hiring practices, as well as their employee engagement and retention strategies.

Unemployment rates remain low (3.4% as of February 2023), while competition for qualified candidates continues to be high across virtually every industry. Add to that the challenges associated with inflation, federal interest rates, rising levels of burnout, and other factors, and you’ll have a complex picture of the current job market. It’s no wonder many organizations continue to struggle to fill open positions with the right talent. Organizations need a way to evaluate existing talent to identify gaps and create a plan to fill them. That’s where skills-based assessments really shine. 

recent McKinsey & Company study suggests that “hiring for skills is five times more predictive of job performance than hiring for education and more than two times more predictive than hiring for work experience.” That’s a powerful advantage for hiring teams — the ability to predict performance prior to hiring a candidate. 

Interviews and resumes, while valuable, provide a curated picture of the candidate. But to truly understand a candidate’s skills and knowledge related to the specific job, teams need to add skills-based assessments to the process.

Let’s say you need to hire a cohort of new employees for a global assignment, but you need them to have superior English language and software skills to produce comprehensible documents. Such was the case for one Symphony Talent client. They opted to use skills-based assessments to evaluate English language proficiency, which was then reviewed and validated by a language expert. With the help of skills-based assessments, the team was able to better predict job performance — in this case document production — which enabled them to select the best candidates for the job.

“We empower recruiters to hear, see, and ‘meet’ talent earlier in the process,” Polk said. “Plus, we help strengthen candidate profiles at scale for future hiring.” 

Getting the right people in the door is only the first step; retention is the next. High turnover rates and an increasing risk of employee burnout are two significant challenges in today’s recruitment landscape.

As Heather Bollinger, a nurse at San Francisco General Hospital recently said, “The more short staffed you get, the more people resign.” A lack of healthcare staffing resources isn’t just problematic for the healthcare team, it can lead to significant patient safety risks. According to ECRI, staffing shortages are among the top 10 patient safety concerns from 2022. A focus on recruitment and developing career progression pathways within the organization were noted as key action recommendations, further emphasizing the importance of workforce planning and employee mobility. With the help of assessments as an integral component of the recruitment marketing engine, healthcare HR leaders can gain a greater understanding of their existing workforce, identify and prioritize staffing gaps, and create and execute a plan to fill them.

In virtually every industry, the cycle of staffing gaps that lead to burnout further compounds staffing concerns as more team members vacate their positions, but it can only stop when we take a closer look at the team dynamics and available skills and resources. By upskilling or reskilling team members, organizations can begin to close the skills gap, address organizational needs, and offer some relief to overburdened and underprepared teams. 

McKinsey & Company echoed this sentiment, stating, “Organizations that realign HR processes to match skill needs can boost employee engagement by 50 percent, lower training and development program costs by 50 percent, and raise productivity by 40 percent.” Among their recommendations, leveraging assessments within the hiring and reskilling or upskilling process ranked high.

Despite the clear value of assessments for pre-hire evaluation and existing employee retention and engagement, assessments are often underused. But that seems to be changing as we see more organizations across the private and public sectors recognizing their utility and, of course, their simplicity. 

It’s common to associate “Fortune 500 company” with success because to achieve Fortune 500 status, an organization must get results – which is often the culmination of well-thought-out strategies, well-executed planning, and outside-the-box thinking.  

At HR Tech’s virtual Tech Talk, I had the pleasure of speaking with a talent acquisition leader at one of those innovative companies, DICK’S Sporting Goods. 

As a Fortune 500 retail company, DICK’S Sporting Goods must remain nimble and adapt its recruitment marketing strategy to meet the needs and expectations of an ever-changing talent landscape and fill specialized corporate and high-volume store positions. Their success lies in their attention to the full talent funnel and thinking differently about programmatic media to fill their funnel and cast a wider net.

How does programmatic media impact recruitment strategies?

Rick Jordan, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition at DICK’s Sporting Goods, knows the power of programmatic advertising technology. Rick notes programmatic media as a key lever in DICK’S Sporting Goods’ recruitment strategy — an area the organization has relied on as its go-to strategy to reach new talent. 

Programmatic media supports Rick’s team in identifying staffing gaps within its nationwide stores, optimizing recruitment marketing efforts, and delivering against expected outcomes. 

By optimizing its programmatic media strategy, DICK’S Sporting Goods can connect with top talent, wherever they are, in an automated and personalized way. This level of precision leads to faster hires and lower costs to fill and builds a solid foundation for a stellar recruitment marketing program. 

When combining programmatic media with a targeted email campaign, DICK’S Sporting Goods saw a 64% increase in applications annually

An added benefit is the diversity of hires. Programmatic media helps DICK’S Sporting Goods cast a broader net to meet and consider a more diverse group of applicants who could become colleagues.

How does programmatic media work for recruitment?

Programmatic media is not and should not be limited to just sponsored job advertising to active jobseeker audiences, but rather used as an omnichannel approach. 

Today, programmatic media should also combine targeted display banners, search engine marketing (SEM), and nurturing/remarketing strategies to convert people into applicants. It should leverage an ecosystem that uses data, analytics, and machine learning in a goals-based format to target specific audiences for your recruiting message.

These sophisticated algorithms serve job advertisements to individuals who fit your target candidate profile and automatically optimize the ad buying process in real time based on performance metrics.

link to tech talk

When optimized and incorporated within the full recruitment marketing matrix, programmatic media can drive better cost efficiency, improved resource allocation, and quicker movement of people through the talent funnel.

How does DICK’S Sporting Goods leverage programmatic media?

One of the key benefits of programmatic media for DICK’S Sporting Goods is the ability to automatically and consistently adjust to the needs of the business. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it approach; it keeps refining, so the organization always spends wisely and gains the best outcomes. 

Rick says because of programmatic media, “we’re highly connected and integrated with our store operations team, which enables us to have greater visibility into store staffing needs at all times. This visibility also means we don’t have to call our stores individually to ask ‘how’s your advertising’ because we already know. We first match staffing levels store by store with talent funnel metrics. Then we go to Symphony Talent and say, ‘here are our gaps.’” 

That’s where our Symphony Talent team comes in. We work with DICK’S Sporting Goods to plug their data into an optimized programmatic media strategy based on those gaps and goals.

To get the best out of programmatic media, you must partner closely with your recruitment teams to understand those hiring gaps and identify areas and locations that need skilled workers. For example, DICK’S Sporting Goods has some sites that generate a lot of traffic and application flows, while others show less traffic. The key is to spend more dollars in the lower-trafficked areas and reduce spending in the high-volume areas. 

And while that may sound like common sense, it wasn’t always possible to focus spending on target areas. At HRTech, Rick said, “Before, you might just throw some advertising out there because you think you need it. But you need to be very targeted, smart, and super data-driven regarding advertising across an organization.” 

Programmatic media is not a post-and-pray tactic. It’s strategic; it’s data-driven; and best of all, it’s cost-effective and drives results.

Interested in watching the full Tech Talk with DICK'S Sporting Goods? 

Check out the on-demand recording via the link. “How Do Fortune 500 Companies Fill Recruitment Gaps?”

Workforce planning never takes a break. So even though we’re just coming out of the 2022 Black Friday weekend, most organizations are already prepping for 2023 seasonal hiring. (There’s no rest for talent acquisition professionals or product managers) -- especially not with the labor market continuing to flex in not-so-talent-acquisition-friendly ways. 

According to a proprietary survey by Jefferies of strategic organizations, the state of the labor market will make recruiting and retaining workers even harder, with job openings in the global economy continuing to exceed the number of unemployed in 2023. 

As a result, unfilled jobs will translate to an estimated $8.5 trillion in lost annual revenue. To stay ahead of these trends, your team must implement strategic hiring practices that put your employer brand front and center. 

Jefferies notes that respondents plan to spend more on recruiting software to solve this problem. The good news is that there are programs and talent acquisition strategies that will easily fit into your existing talent acquisition software to help you gear up for hiring challenges – like those Black Friday seasonal hiring spikes – more quickly and seamlessly than ever before. 

The two top trending hiring strategies heading into 2023: retaining and referring top talent.

Engage employees + recruit their friends

As a product manager, making your job easier (even in an unsteady labor market) is my job. I work directly with engineers and solution architects to ensure that talent acquisition technology solves your pain points and answers your automation dreams. 

My goal is to ensure that the product works in a way that empowers your teams to build relationships and get to the best quality hires faster. 

And it all boils down to hiring today and building a pipeline to hire faster tomorrow. 

Recently, those solutions have taken the form of smart, seamless programs that accelerate hiring and improve retention. Let’s break down the top referral program must-knows and must-haves and the top internal mobility program must-knows and must-haves.

Employee referral and advocacy program must-knows

The best employee referral strategies incorporate smart advocacy into the process – generating more engagement in the organization’s success and stronger referrals. 

How does a referral program work? In its simplest form, a referral program takes the following steps: 

Track: Reports track eligible referral hires to the sponsor, so referral bonus/credit eligibility is automatically determined for recognition & reward.

The top three employee referral program end-user experience must-haves

While having seamless employee and candidate experience to fill that referral pipeline is vital, I will focus on some end-user experiences today to discuss those talent acquisition end-user goals. 

  1. First and foremost, it should be clear if a contact is a referral. That’s why we’ve added a contact’s referral status right at the top of their profile, so it’s top of mind whenever you’re working with the contact. This enables you to provide the “friends and family” experience.
  2. The referral workflow should be automatic. In a referral workflow, you can configure actions when referred contacts sign up - perhaps a tailored welcome email to keep that sense of “you’re special” going and motivate applications. This becomes time-saving once you’ve established the baseline of communications, nudges and reminders you want to deliver.
  3. The search and filter process should be seamless. You can effortlessly search for, and filter referred contacts when you’re not actively engaged with a specific contact but are starting your review process. This also makes it straightforward to launch tailored communications with a few clicks.

    For example, you’ll have a lot of employees in your CRM, particularly if you’ve got an Internal Mobility Site. You’ll also want to close the loop with referrals by encouraging those employees to sign up as sponsors and make their first referral – you’re already showing them their career development is important to you with IMS. You add that extra layer of engagement by turning them into advocates too.

Internal mobility program must-knows 

Recruiting isn’t easy, so keep the top talent you have already attracted to your brand engaged and performing at your organization by offering talent mobility opportunities. 

In the same way, we think referred contacts deserve a “friends and family” type experience, providing an engaging internal mobility experience for employees nurtures loyalty in your brand. 

The top three internal career sites must-haves

Your employees should have access to an internal career site that houses all their jobs. The site should integrate with your applicant tracking system, so the jobs directly populate on the site without any extra effort from your team.

What is the top three internal career site must haves? 

Raise awareness
Get in front of the right people, at the right time, with the right message. The result? Greater brand awareness and expanded right-fit talent network.
Build connections
Strong relationships and connections lead to better talent engagement and higher conversions.
Assess qualifications
Take the guesswork out of candidate selection with an objective view into a candidate’s skills, competencies, and culture fit.
Boost retention
Create more opportunities for the talent you hire to become loyal brand advocates who choose to grow with your organization.

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