Annual Planning Prep: 10 Essential Questions Every Recruitment Marketer Should Ask First

Jodie Cherry RothBy Jodie Cherry Roth
December 20th, 2022 • 6 Minutes

As we move into 2023, many recruitment marketing teams are likely in the planning process for next year. But, before you dive into crafting your recruitment marketing plans, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself a few key questions to clarify where you are today and your desired goals. 

Given the complexity of today’s dynamic job market, the 10 questions below are not all encompassing, but they will provide you with a good “gut check” as you think about your 2023 strategy.  

As Taylor Swift reminds us in my new favorite song, Mastermind, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

What Should We Start, Stop and Continue?

The start of the new year is an excellent time for recruitment marketers to sit back and reflect on what worked and what didn’t over the last year. Strategies that weren’t effective can be adjusted and new strategies can be introduced.

Do a rundown of your strategies throughout the year and decide which ones should be continued as a component of your “always on” recruitment strategy. 

What Are Your Goals?

It’s a simple question but an important one. If you don’t have a clear vision that you’re working towards, it’s easy to lose focus on what you want to accomplish. 

Your first step should be determining how many new hires you need during the next year. If your organization hasn’t explicitly communicated the number of hires the business has forecasted, you can start by using your 2022 monthly hire data as a baseline for planning. 

Secondly, you should look closely at your talent pool and identify where there are gaps in qualified candidates for key job categories. For instance, if you have many accounting and finance candidates, but you’re lacking in the engineering space, you’ll want to adjust your marketing budget accordingly.

Finally, pay attention to mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. Typically, any time one occurs, there are also job losses and the potential for new hires to consider as you build your annual strategy. . 

What KPIs Do Your Leaders Care About Most?

All leaders have specific metrics that they track to evaluate the success of their employees, departments and organizations. You’ll need to understand these KPIs and ensure that you have the means to track them. This can be easier said than done, based on the complexity of your tech stack.

Within the industry, the most common and critical KPIs to track include applications per hire, quality of hire, source effectiveness, cost per hire, time to hire, click-through rate, conversation rate and more. (You can reference this article to learn more.) It’s important for your collective team to understand what they will be measured on and how that’s tracked. 

What Is Your Budget?

What’s my approved budget? This is a key question every marketer wants answered. You’ll want to break down your budget into line items to best organize the information. Each line item should be tied back to a specific goal.

You should leave some room in your budget for innovation. Innovation and change are necessary for marketing; without them, you lose the chance to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Make sure that creativity has a dedicated place in your budget, similar to allocations for administrative activities and technology. 

In the current economic environment, it’s a good idea to have some flexibility within your budget so that you can quickly scale up or down as needed. Have some quick fixes or levers to pull if you suddenly need to adjust spending. 

In addition to this, it’s good to define what is a “nice-to-have” versus a “must-have.” Understanding which costs are fixed (tied to a contract) that cannot be adjusted, versus those that are incremental (and can be adjusted month-over-month or quarter-over-quarter) is key. 

Is Your Vendor Mix Diversified Enough?

Do your plans include strategies at each stage of the recruitment funnel? And, is the percentage budgeted to support the right mix that aligns with your goals?

For awareness, you will want to think about how you are branding yourself on key sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Indeed.  You will also want to consider if other top-of-the-funnel tactics are needed like programmatic display or audio, video or out of home advertising (e.g. billboards) as examples.

For consideration, you may want to plan for landing page view campaigns, social media activations and retargeting. And, for interest, you’ll want to have strategies that will drive leads (via Tiktok or Facebook), or full-applies back to your ATS. If you are driving leads, ensure that you have a sourcing team or operational workflow in place to cultivate the leads throughout the process.

Remember that technology and platforms are constantly changing. If one source changes its algorithm or search processes, your visibility may change, and you may fail to attract as many candidates. Too much dependence on one channel puts your business at risk. Keep your knowledge up-to-date, and ensure that you’ve got multiple effective marketing channels to leverage. 

Is Your Tech Stack in Place?

A large part of recruitment marketing involves technology. Make sure that you have the right tools to continue your success into the new year. 

Ask yourself a few key questions. Does your ATS allow you to track source effectiveness? Is your CRM easy to manage leads throughout the entire recruitment process? Is your technology modern and does it allow for you to engage with candidates how they desire (e.g. texting)? Do you have access to any additional reporting you may need (e.g. Google Data Studio)?

You should also consider the audiences that you’re trying to reach. You may need to use a combination of tools to get the best-suited candidates. Ensure your tools also support any diversity goals your organization may have, including eliminating bias from your processes. 

Are Your Program-Specific Strategies in Place? 

Make sure your efforts include opportunities for hiring employees at each stage of the employee lifecycle. Consider strategies for connecting with university students, career-changers, boomerang employees and retirees who may be willing to re-enter the workforce. 

It’s also important in 2023 that you have a strategy in place for diversity, referrals and reputation management. Recruitment marketers responsible for managing the organization’s reputation should ensure that they’re presenting authentic content for prospective candidates to consider. Having a reputation strategy in place is crucial, and it’s important for employers to show that they are listening and responding to reviews and communicating their values as an organization. According to Glassdoor, 65% of users read at least five reviews before forming an opinion of a company.

It’s also crucial for recruitment marketers to gauge the success of their referral programs. Many companies find that referrals lead to some of the best employees who collaborate well and are likely to stick around. One recent study found that 30%-40% of recent hires were due to referrals. A few key things to think about with referral programs include: which department will pay out the referral bonus, what content do you need to support the program, and what is the internal communication plan you need to socialize it with current employees.

Do You Have the Right Partners and People Around You?

Your team and partners help drive and implement your recruitment marketing strategies. Carefully assess your in-house team and determine if any gaps exist with your internal bench of talent. 

You may find additional support from an outside agency if you don’t have an in-house team or the resources/knowledge internally to activate on all channels. An agency adds value because they can reapply best practices from other clients and have strategic vendor relationships. You can contract their services or use them on an as-needed basis to save time and maximize your results. The thought partnership and strategic support an agency can provide is invaluable when you have the need.

Do You Have the Right Annual Contracts in Place?

Annual planning is a great time to assess how any contracts you may have support your entire funnel. You’ll want to look at how you brand your company by consulting resources like Glassdoor and LinkedIn. Your branding should present your organization in the appropriate light, in a way that attracts and interests potential candidates.

It’s also important to review your contracts related to diversity and compliance (e.g. Circa, Direct Employers, etc.) and reputation management platforms such as and Comparably. In addition, it’s important to consider sourcing partners including Entelo, hireEZ and Nexxt and talent insight vendors including TalentNeuron and LinkedIn Talent Insights as examples. 

Finally, look at the job boards you use to reach candidates. Make sure they’re continuing to bring you applicants who fit the needs of your company’s open roles. Always try to see if there are opportunities to negotiate in more value with these contracts. Sometimes there are opportunities with impression matches or other value adds based on level of spend.

Is Your Employee Value Proposition in Place?

Is your employee value proposition defined and activated? Your EVP conveys what new employees can expect from your organization and what you expect from them. 

If you don’t have an EVP in place, 2023 is a great time to get one developed. With a tight labor market and candidates being more selective with their career searches, having a solid EVP in place has never been so important. In a recent study published by Gartner, organizations that execute on their EVP effectively potentially reduce annual employee turnover by nearly 70% and boost new hire commitment by almost 30%.

When done right, a compelling EVP describes what makes your organization different from millions of others. 

An Annual Planning Review Helps You Establish Your Goals

Your annual planning review is a great time to uncover next year’s hiring goals and establish your recruitment marketing strategy. With some work, you’ll be ready to dive headfirst into new opportunities for attracting candidates and enhancing your branding strategies. And don’t forget Taylor’s quote – “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.”

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