Thursday, March 31, 2011

Creating a Candidate Talent Universe & Should You Use an Ad?

I've taken a lot of heat from some friends over this ad. Mostly they make fun of my picture. But some have questioned what the point of the ad is or even whether a recruiting firm should be endorsing employment ads.

The point of the ad is just as the caption says, the Indianapolis Business Journals' employment ads do work. Why do they work?

The quote of mine in the ad refers to feedback that I provided to IBJ & Indiana Lawyer classified salesperson, Matt Houston. I had run an ad for a CEO position with an Indianapolis headquartered company. It was an expensive ad ($1,200) that ran for three non-consecutive IBJ issues.

My friendly critics are somewhat correct in that the majority of Career Solutions' research comes from passive candidates, targeted by our search plan to construct a custom candidate talent universe. We don't need an ad to find these people. We employ our in-house Researcher and an external research company based upon the project specs. Ideally, we want 1/3 of our competitive talent universe for a project coming from public, active candidate information, 1/3 from existing tracked candidates, and 1/3 from custom new research of passive candidates (people that may not have any public profile or information out there).

But for an Indianapolis area CEO search, an IBJ ad actually is a perfect compliment to our research plan. The IBJ's demographic information indicates that 55% of readers are 'top management' and 20% 'middle management', the median annual income of readers is $113,300 and average is $225,600, 86% of readers have a Bachelors degree with 35% having an advanced degree, and the average reader spends 45 minutes reading each issue. To me, this sounds like a CEO-type demographic. And, that's what we found in our ad's response.

Typically an employment ad has very low quality returns. From college communications classes, I recall that a 3-5% quality response rate is what you should expect from an ad. But, when you target a niche that percentage goes up - significantly. Generally, I tell people that an employment ad, newspaper or internet, will yield 5-10% respondents that are worth reviewing. This IBJ CEO employment ad had a much higher yield of quality respondents - something like 40% were worth interviewing. There were some that came from targeted source companies, saving us some labor in reaching out to them, and a few from companies we had not thought to target.

So this ad fit the needs of this particular search very well because it was a CEO directed ad, placed in a CEO demographic publication with the majority of readers in the geographic location we wanted. If you understand why the ad was effective for Career Solutions' CEO search process, then you also now see that every time this ad runs in the IBJ the "CEO demographic" (potential customers of Career Solutions) are seeing the ad. Each time it runs I always shoot Matt Houston an email and let him know who I know that's commented about it. It's a true win/win.


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