Classified advertising has been a staple in recruiting for call center human resource managers. However, recent news suggests the Internet is threatening the age-old print classified advertising model. Not long ago call center HR managers were pulling their hair out looking for more new recruiting opportunities. Has the Internet come to the rescue of call center hiring managers?
The Washington Post announced recently that help-wanted advertising at the paper slid 26 percent in first-quarter 2001 and was expected to be off 38 percent for April and the first week of May. In the same period, HotJobs, an Internet recruiting career Web site, said revenue rose 142 percent to $33.6 million, up from $13.9 million a year earlier.
With the introduction of the Internet as another recruiting medium, call center recruiters suddenly have what they had wished for: more recruiting options. However, inherent to this new medium, “more options” quickly has become “hundreds of Internet recruiting Web sites,” making the decision to use the Internet a little more difficult.
Does the Internet provide a better value for employers than traditional print classified advertising? If so, how does a recruiting manager decide which Internet sites to use? These questions can be answered using the tested and proven direct marketing formula called the PLOP model.
PLOP is short for product, list, offer and package. The PLOP model is used to evaluate one direct marketing medium versus another. Because both traditional classified employment advertising and Internet employment advertising are direct marketing media, they can be compared easily. The following is a comparison model:
• Product. Employment advertising/recruiting.
• List. The audience a recruiter wishes to reach to locate a new hire.
• Offer. The job description a recruiter is selling to a job seeker.
• Package. The media being compared or tested. For example, a test may compare Internet advertising with traditional print classified advertising, or one Internet career site versus another site.
When comparing classified advertising projects, the product is always the same – recruiting. The package is always a test of one medium versus another. The variables in a direct marketing test are the list and the offer. Each test consists of a control package (the medium that has provided the greatest results/value in the past) and the challenger – the medium being tested to determine its value.
Additional comparison factors: goal and value. To choose the right list and make the right offer, it is necessary to establish a goal or objective of the advertising project. The campaign’s goal or objective will be a determining factor in which package should be chosen as the challenger. The package chosen is the one that provides the best list of potential job seekers for a particular position. Finally, cost is the factor that will determine which package provides the most value. Cost is not the price of the package used, but the value generated from the package.
A generally accepted model for determining the value of a direct marketing campaign is the ratio of the quality, flexibility and speed of the package divided by the price of the package.
The testing process outlined below answers which media provide the best value for classified advertising. Like any direct marketing package (direct mail, telemarketing, e-mail, Web marketing, etc.), success comes from making the right offer to the right list. Classified advertising is no different.
Three-step testing process. To implement tests of different packages effectively, it will be necessary to set up a few new processes. Unless your firm has a job ID numbering system that allows recruiters to track where resumes came from, a new fax machine/number and e-mail address need to be set up to separate resumes by origin.
The test will measure newspaper classified advertising versus an Internet career site. Understanding the goal is the most important step in determining what offer to make to what list. If the goal is to hire 50 people to work the telephones in the upcoming peak season, it may be necessary to use one of the largest career sites to generate volume. If the goal is to hire one or two people, a niche career site may provide a better quality of candidates.
Here is a rundown of the PLOP model for this test:
• Product: advertising and recruiting.
• List: The control list (the previous winner) contains the people reading the classifieds. The challenger is a career Web site or the people who visit this site.
• Offer: The control offer is the newspaper ad used to generate resumes. The Internet offer comprises the words used in the job description to generate a response.
• Package: newspaper classifieds (control) versus Internet career site (challenger). In direct marketing, the list is often the deciding factor in the success of a package. Testing different lists (career Web sites, radio, recruiters, etc.) should be an ongoing process. If the challenger list provides a better value in any test, it becomes the control package, and a new list (Internet site, newspaper ad, etc.) is selected as the challenger. The winner of each test answers the question of where to advertise for each position recruited. The name of the game is to make the right offer to the right list.
Once the classifieds have been placed and resumes received, ask yourself whether the quality, flexibility and speed of the package used was worthy of the price paid for the advertisement.
Quality. To analyze the resumes received from the campaign, keep them separate. While conducting interviews, make notes about the quality of each candidate. When you get to the final candidates, you will have an excellent idea of which list provided the best quality of candidates.
Each list will generate resumes. However, measuring quality is not about which list generated the most resumes; it is about which list generated the most candidates. A quality resume is a good lead. A quality candidate is a good prospect or someone who can be hired because of her experience.
Flexibility. There is little question the Internet provides more flexibility and speed than print classifieds, since job postings can be listed on the Internet for up to 60 days. The ability to create a comprehensive job description or to change the text on a job posting also is greater using the Internet.
Speed. Speed is not only the time it takes to place an ad and start receiving resumes; it is also the collective time it takes to review the resumes, narrow candidates for consideration and conduct the interview process. Time is generally an HR manager’s most valuable resource. Therefore, a list of experienced people actively looking for a new position will reduce the time it takes to hire a new employee.
When it comes to hiring the people who work on the telephone, quantity also may be part of the goal or objective. Here, it is necessary to include quantity (as part of the quality area) when determining value. Are people who work on the telephones using the Internet to find new jobs? This is the $64,000 question and exactly the question the PLOP model will answer. If telephone people are looking for jobs on the Internet, testing lists using the PLOP model will indicate which Web sites your target job seekers are visiting.
Internet recruiting is direct marketing. The proven rule of direct marketing is to first use what works (control package) and continually test new Web sites (lists) to find a more targeted group of people. Each time you test a new list, there is an opportunity to make a better offer. Direct marketing is a science, not an art; therefore, it is the testing process that provides the experience to determine the best answer to what list should be used and what offer should be made to hire a specific candidate.
How to compare different Internet sites? Since the Internet is proving an effective and efficient place to recruit (because of the convenience for the job seeker), a job posting must be viewed as both an investment in the future and an expense to hire people now. Testing has a twofold purpose. First, the posting is designed to hire someone. Second, using the PLOP model, you are testing one list against another to learn the value of what each Internet site can deliver in terms of qualified job seekers.
To compare Internet sites, use the PLOP model and plug in your goals, etc. You are now testing the same package (Internet recruiting) — just different lists. Before buying an Internet job posting, research a site. If you think potential new hires are visiting, spend the money to test the site. It may be the site that becomes the control package.