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Internal mobility through the lens of consumer marketing

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For the last blahblahblah years, I have been helping companies stand out to talent. I’ve helped organizations fill the funnel and fuel their infinity loop. It strikes me that this work has always focused on generating more new names. More new talent. More new resumes. More new profiles, emails, talent community members. Always new. Always. New.

Over the last 5 years, I have watched companies become more advanced in their marketing techniques to generate more new people into pipelines. I’ve watched us grow up as an industry to get scrappier for those new names. But for me it’s always felt wrong. Whenever I would look at one of those recruitment marketing funnel graphics, I got squirmy because I learned earlier in my career that the transaction should not end at hire (let alone at application). Just like in consumer marketing the customer relationship doesn’t end at purchase.

When I was doing consumer marketing earlier in my career, I focused on loyalty programs and shopper marketing for a bit. In this part of my career, I noticed that consumer brands will stop at nothing to keep you from switching to another brand. They roll out points programs, loyalty cards, and the like to make sure you continue to buy their products, and hopefully buy more of their products.

Some of my customers were VERY BIG BRANDS. The kind of brands that own market share. Of course, they spend money to attract new consumers. They wanted new customers to switch from another brand to their brand. But they knew the key to their growth is based on getting their existing customers to buy more. They build marketing plans in parallel paths: one plan is to acquire new customers (switchers); the other path is getting their current customers to buy more.

Which is where we should be heading in our world, too. Even today, with record high unemployment, a global pandemic, a contentious election, and civil unrest, two things remain true:

  1. Your employees are not engaged.
  2. People hate applying for jobs.

So, with all this strife, let’s take a hot minute for some self-reflection. If we are focused on always new, ending our transaction at application or hire, how are we going to get our candidates and employees to engage? It will take more money and time, which we have seen happen continuously over the years. Candidly, we will not be able to sustain this model. Our leadership will not continue to throw money at us without producing better results. It’s time we infuse some lessons from loyalty marketing strategies into our talent strategy.

To be clear, we do not need people to buy more of our product. Our jobs are not products but there are lessons to be learned from this example. The key lesson involves understanding and studying what your employees want and need. It means that we must treat this audience differently.

Which brings us to many existing internal mobility solutions. Most solutions that are pitched to my customers seem to completely forget the first lesson of understanding what your employees need and want. Most solutions frankly replicate the experience that we offer external talent. For example: Many people call posting a job on the intranet for 8 days before you post it on Indeed their internal mobility solution. Others will tell me that their solution is an internal job board for employees to search and apply for a job like anyone else. No one wants this. And I have proof.

I have a customer whose internal mobility is as outlined above, and here’s how that’s working for them:

  • Just 11% of employees are visiting the internal portal despite promoting it.
  • A mere 2% of all applicants are internal candidates.

When you compare internal conversion rates with external conversion rates, it gets even more stark.

External candidates who visit the career site:

  • 92% click on an apply button
  • 54% who visit the career site end up completing an application*

Internal candidates who visit the internal career site:

  • 44% click on an apply button
  • 10% who visit the internal career site end up completing an application.

*yes, this is well above industry average, and yes, the customer is VERY happy ?

It is clear – employees do not want to be treated like everyone else. They want a different experience. They want to be tapped on the shoulder for a new role based on their skills, goals, and experience. They want to have jobs that match their aspirations served up to them. They want to feel special. They are special. You’ve paid thousands of dollars in marketing and advertising to get them hired. You’ve spent time and money training them. You’ve imparted, and they have obtained invaluable institutional knowledge. But for some reason, once they’ve been hired, we tend to forget about them as viable talent to grow and cultivate. And when they leave, man is that expensive.

It’s time we evolve to where our consumer marketing counterparts are. We need to develop parallel strategies to acquire new candidates while getting our current employees to elevate and advance. To get current employees to take on new roles and responsibilities.

What if we spent some time and money on our loyalty strategy for our current talent? What if that effort was successful in thwarting off some other company’s switcher strategy? We need to find ways to get our own employees to raise their hands when they are having a bad day to stay with us. We need to continue to court them and build that relationship, that loyalty. To show them that we can upgrade their career with something that may be a great fit for them tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. We need to start developing a holistic view of our talent strategy.

It’s time we take a beat to think about diversifying our talent strategy. To be sustainable for the foreseeable future, we need to develop plans to not just attract new candidates, but to be sure we are creating opportunities for our current talent to stay. We need to get our A-players actively involved in conversations about their future with the company. And we need to make it EASY! We need to find ways to elevate our people. We have to focus our efforts across all of our people, the new ones we want to attract, and the ones we already have on our payroll that are hungry for the next move in their career.

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