Budget Blunder: You Aren’t Spending Enough on Talent Acquisition

January 3, 2022

Talent acquisition is expensive—in terms of both time and money. Replacing a blue-collar worker requires HR staff and hiring managers to promote open positions, sort through applications, and conduct interviews. Then, after the job offer is made, there’s the cost of onboarding.

According to the University of California at Berkeley, the average blue-collar worker costs $2,000 to replace. And when you consider today’s high turnover rate, you don’t want to waste valuable dollars on new hires that won’t last. More than ever, blue-collar workers are leaving their positions for better pay and benefits. Between 2008 and 2018, the unemployment rate among blue-collar workers plummeted from 13 percent to 3.3 percent—and the number of people voluntarily quitting a job increased from 81,000 to 231,000 year over year.

You already know that acquisition costs add up quickly, especially in times like these when employee turnover across all industries is incredibly high. So, what can you do? It might sound counterproductive, but you need to start spending more on talent acquisition.

Believe it or not, investing in talent acquisition can actually save you money in the long run. Instead of waiting around for the right candidate, you need to reach top talent where they already are. Then, you need a calculated onboarding process to build loyalty and boost employee retention. Altogether, a strong acquisition funnel can increase productivity, reduce the need to replace blue-collar workers, and generate more revenue for your organization.

Of course, managing all the costs of recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and retaining a blue-collar worker can be a delicate tightrope balance. How can you pinpoint exactly where you should be spending?


Recruitment Costs

Struggling to find qualified candidates? Not getting any applications that actually match your job description? You’re far from alone. With countless organizations fighting for top talent, it’s no surprise that you’re having a hard time filling open positions. 

In the post-pandemic world of recruitment, posting a job ad, sitting back, and hoping that the perfect candidate will apply isn’t going to cut it. You need to create a proactive recruitment process that drives a steady stream of skilled candidates to your company. 

That means evaluating your current needs, building your employer brand, and meeting your target audience where they already are. And for most companies, that’s going to require some extra spending. Here’s how to get started.


1. Job Board Fees

Even though fewer organizations are relying on job boards for recruitment, niche job boards can still help you reach your target candidates. So, if you’re not engaging the right candidates by posting on traditional job boards like Indeed and Monster, it’s time to turn your attention toward more targeted sites.

For instance, if you need to fill construction positions, advertise on job boards for construction workers like Construction Jobs. For manufacturing positions, try using websites like Manufacturing Jobs or JobsInManufacturing. This way, instead of sorting through countless irrelevant applications, you’ll be able to focus on qualified candidates who check all the boxes.

Successful recruitment is all about finding your ideal candidates where they already are. Chances are, skilled blue-collar candidates with years of experience are actively searching for open positions on niche job boards. All you need is a compelling job post to reach the right kind of candidate.


2. Branding Efforts

What’s the best way to reach and engage blue-collar candidates? A captivating, curiosity-provoking employer brand. 

When building your employer brand, you need to consider the differences between blue- and white-collar applicants. While a C-level position might be filled through LinkedIn research and networking, there’s no way to keep your blue-collar positions filled without continuously promoting your employer brand. And when it comes to branding efforts, you need to leverage social media platforms and other sites where your passive candidates spend their time.

That means dedicating time, money, and resources to an omnichannel recruitment approach. Depending on your target audience, you might post content on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube (basically, any channel where your candidate personas will encounter your messaging). It’s not enough to just promote open positions, either. You need to show candidates exactly why they should work for your company.

Most importantly, you need to tailor your brand narrative to blue-collar workers and their specific concerns. Your main goal is to help passive candidates understand the benefits of working at your organization. At the same time, you want to show them what life would be like if they joined your team. Blue-collar workers want to learn about their future work environment, the kind of people they’d be working with, and the benefits they can expect from your company.

Some ways to promote your employer brand online include:

  • Creating videos of employee stories to share on social media and corporate accounts
  • Encouraging employees to post their own content (i.e., employee-written blog posts, pictures from company events)
  • Post employee spotlights on social media to celebrate accomplishments and milestones

Still hesitant to dedicate precious recruitment dollars to social media? It’s going to take some time for the perfect candidate to finally apply to your traditional job board postings. That means a longer time to fill the position, a loss of productivity, and a decrease in revenue. You can stick to your old ways, but you’re going to end up losing more money in the long run.


3. Application Flow

Once you’ve mastered the art of employer branding, it’s time to invest in your application flow. You’ve spent time and money captivating your target candidates. Now, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to apply. 

Across all industries, 60 percent of candidates have dropped out mid-application due to a lengthy or time-consuming application. But what does that mean for your organization? If your application is too long or complex, you’re losing out on top talent—and you’re risking poor word-of-mouth from candidates frustrated with the process. Skilled candidates know their time is important and have countless opportunities in the job market. They don’t want to waste valuable time on your application.

So, how can you improve your application flow? It’s as simple as implementing functionality that allows applicants to apply from their mobile phones. Again, it’s crucial to consider the needs of your target candidates. Research shows that most qualified candidates are engaging with employers via smartphones, and you need to meet them where they already are.

What’s more, improving your application flow doubles as a way to further your employer branding. Think about it—you’re showing candidates how much you value their time right off the bat. Fewer people will drop out of your application process prematurely, resulting in a significant uptick in the total number of applicants.


Onboarding Costs

A strategic onboarding process is critical to keep new hires happy and boost employee retention. Employees who complete a structured onboarding process are 58 percent more likely to remain at the same company three years later. And when you consider that almost 90 percent of new hires decide whether to stay on within the first six months, it’s clear that your success requires a positive first impression.

At the end of the day, your employees are your number one asset, so it only makes sense to invest in their success. Here are the costs you need to consider to promote engaged, loyal, and long-term employees.


1. Vetting

Congratulations! You’ve sifted through job applications for your open position and you’re ready to schedule a few interviews. Before you take the next step, you need to vet any potential candidates.

For most companies, effective vetting procedures save time and money during the hiring process. They eliminate unqualified candidates, making it easier for hiring managers to choose the best fit for the organization. Your vetting process should also involve analyzing a candidate’s resume and contacting their professional contacts. By weeding out candidates with embellished resumes or past on-the-job issues, you’ll decrease the possibility that new hires will violate company policy and take one step closer to hiring someone with the right skill set for the job.

Whatever tool you use to vet workers will charge per worker, so you’ll need to anticipate these costs for any new hires. When you properly vet new hires from the start, you’ll reduce your turnover rate by ensuring each hire is a good fit for your organization.


2. Training

Training can be a significant expense in terms of time spent. After you bring a new employee on board, you’ll need to plan out training documentation, along with a manager or worker who can deliver that training to the new hire.

Of course I’m investing in training, you’re thinking. Why should I spend even more?

Believe it or not, most companies aren’t spending enough on training. With blue-collar positions growing increasingly challenging to fill, it’s more important than ever to invest in training. According to Gartner, an astronomical 70 percent of employees say they don’t have the mastery of skills needed to do their jobs. 

When jobs become too difficult, blue-collar workers become disengaged and less productive—or they feel like their employers don’t care enough to invest in them. If you’re not actually training your workers for their positions, you risk losing them to someone who will.

During the training process, it’s also essential to communicate clear expectations to your new hire. Will they have opportunities for advancement in the future, and how can they take advantage of these opportunities? How flexible is the schedule, and who should they report to? You don’t want to leave new hires hanging without the information they need to succeed.


3. Paperwork

Beyond just fine-tuning your vetting and training procedures, it’s also important to create an onboarding routine that can quickly shift new hires into their roles—all while helping them integrate into the organization without any gaps. This will help them feel more connected and engaged with your company while reducing the frustration that can lead to turnover.

Paperwork can take some time depending on the position and the state you’re hiring in. If you don’t have a procedure in place for processing new hire paperwork, you risk creating gaps in the onboarding process. 

It’s critical to factor this step into onboarding so you can take care of everything required by law and ensure a seamless transition from new hire to employee. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to make sure all bases are covered, including any necessary documentation. New hire documents are time-sensitive, so you should take steps to ensure they’re signed and returned as quickly as possible.


Rethink Your Talent Acquisition Budget

Taken altogether, investing in different areas of the acquisition funnel can significantly reduce your average cost (and time) per hire. In an age where qualified blue-collar workers are hard to come by, budget blunders can make or break your recruitment success.

How does your acquisition funnel stack up? When was the last time you reviewed your budget? Download our self-audit checklist to reflect on your current strategy so you can start finding top talent at a lower cost.

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