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When you spend 5 months working on something – pouring over it, analyzing it, re-reading it – it almost becomes a part of you. Thinking about it before you fall asleep (and sometimes during sleep); reconsidering angles you missed; double-checking and triple-checking data; scrutinizing every word for the perfect tone and meaning; filtering and diving deeper into different layers of data; having imaginary lightbulbs appear overheard when there’s a new finding or insight.

That’s what happened with our 2018 Recruitment Marketing Benchmarks Report, largely because it prompted so many questions to answer and insights to drive action.

The first of which is based a little more in shock: No successful, agile company would wait 3 years to innovate its product or service offering. No progressive, bold company would wait 3 years to try new marketing strategies or refresh its brand. So why would any future-thinking company wait 3 years to transform its talent strategy?

And the second of which is based in a little more hope: Change is happening within talent acquisition (yay!), but it’s happening too slowly. The industry seems stuck between never-ending chatter of what’s next and what’s new and what’s shiny … and doing the same thing it’s always done. So how do we shift this?

I think both questions point to a similar source: For most business leaders, there apparently still isn’t enough of a case to invest skills and money into new talent strategies and technologies. And perhaps for many talent acquisition leaders or decision-makers, they don’t have the proof, urgency or information to convince senior leadership that they need to change now. Both groups need more ammo!

We want to help provide that fuel for action – which is why SmashFly created this report in the first place.


If You’re Looking for Proof…

We have it. That was our goal! We see correlation and tracked trends and measured adoption. And we’ve found that:

  • Marketing-focused recruiting = better talent. And better talent may equal more profitability. Companies who excel at recruitment marketing strategies (A scores) have 62% higher average revenue per year than B scores, and 152% higher average revenue per year than F scores. This isn’t causation – there are hundreds of factors at play here. But the story is interesting, and the stark contrast between the As and the Fs should be explored.
  • Higher-performing talent acquisition companies (and revenue-generating companies) focus on building and nurturing relationships. Seventy-six percent of “A” companies have a talent network or talent community, while merely 5% of “D” and “F” companies do. And among As with a talent network, 89% send monthly communication to talent; just 7% of Ds and Fs do.
  • There’s a competitive advantage to be had, even after years of talking recruitment marketing. We’ve seen a 31% decrease in Cs since 2015 and a 70% increase in As and Bs. Still, As and Bs account for only 46% of Fortune 500 companies.

See more core stats and insights in the report here: 2018 Recruitment Marketing Benchmarks for the Fortune 500.

These findings are across three years: 2015 to 2017. What we talk about in the industry, the type of technologies that have entered the market, the roles and titles of the practitioners within talent acquisition … they have evolved. Kudos. But to address the title of this post: Have we evolved enough?

I think not yet (and truth be told, an evolution is something that never really stops). Recruitment marketing isn’t new anymore. Wanting to improve the candidate experience isn’t a new challenge. Building an employer brand isn’t a new initiative. Too few companies have adopted new strategies, and transparently, even fewer have excelled at them.

And that means there’s still a crucial competitive advantage to be had. That means there is reason to change.


Why Change? Take a Look at the Top Performers

My favorite area of this report this year is that we tried to provide a clear definition of what that excellence looks like: What does a high-performing recruitment marketing company looks like compared to a low-performing company? Why excel? What does it get you?

This report takes a good look at the wide gap between “A” companies and “D” and “F” companies, spotlighting how to get from point A to point B – or in more realistic terms, maybe point Z to point A. A few supremely interesting stats from the profile of a high-performer:

  • 89% of As with a talent network send monthly communication, compared to just 7% of Ds and Fs.
  • 76% of As with a talent network send personalized job recommendations, compared to 0% of Ds and Fs.
  • 92% of As feature video employee stories on their career site, compared to 22% of Ds and Fs.

Holy cow. That’s a gap – but it’s also a path for excellence. It’s fuel for change. It’s proof that there are leaders and trailblazers that are doing this stuff – building pipelines, nurturing talent, creating amazing content – and seeing the benefits.

If you pair what As are doing tactically with the fact that there’s correlation with high revenue earning and growth, there’s an interesting story: Companies that “get” personalization and employer branding and talent nurture and candidate experience – and have the technology that enables them to do so – outshine their competitors when it comes to business success.


I urge you to take research back to your leadership as an argument and cause for change. And if you are the leadership, I urge you to think about the impact this change could have now, before everyone else catches up. Most of all, I’m looking forward to seeing what the evolution of talent acquisition looks like in another 3 years – because the pace of evolution can only come from the people bold enough to propel it.

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