Identifying and recruiting top talent can feel like a pay-to-play game. With every employer and staffing firm fighting for the same unicorns—the same full-stack developers and the same Ivy League MBAs—it can be a challenge to get in front of these high-demand candidates before they’re swooped up. Job placement sites like LinkedIn and Indeed have happily stepped up to the challenge, offering recruiters the ability to jump straight to the head of the queue with premium listings... at premium costs.
But what about the employers and staffing firms that can’t shell out thousands to fill a role?
That’s where geofencing comes in.
Geofencing provides recruiters a way to bypass both premium listings and LinkedIn’s notoriously pricey job-title-targeting. It offers a level playing field for startups, small businesses, and the Fortune 500 alike. And it offers the opportunity to get in front of the perfect candidate for any job description.
But first, what is geofencing?
Geofencing is a form of local digital advertising that uses GPS tracking to set up a virtual perimeter (a “fence”) around a point of interest (a “geo”) for the purpose of advertising to those currently within the area. While the concept is traditionally discussed as a marketing tool for getting in front of local customers, geofencing has recently gained momentum as a means to get in front of new job candidates as well.
At its simplest, geofencing means drawing a circle on a map. A recruiter can pick where they want this circle and how big they want it to be, and their ad network of choice will do the rest—displaying their job advertisement to all eligible individuals within that circle.
More advanced geofences include a spatial component that analyzes where people entering that circle come from and where they go after they leave. This knowledge allows recruiters to advertise to top candidates even after they leave the immediate geofence.
We’ll explore both of these geofencing types later in this post as we detail some of the creative strategies we’ve seen at Spatially.
What can recruiters do with geofencing?
While there’s no shortage of ways that recruiters and employers can use geofencing, here are four of our favorite strategies:
1. Appeal to the new way candidates search for jobs
Like many experiences, the job search has become increasingly mobile.
According to the Pew Research Center, over 78% of millennials and 73% of Gen Xers use mobile devices to find jobs. It’s not just a white-collar behavior either - 80% of searches for cleaning, construction, and extraction jobs originate from mobile devices.
Recruiters that take note of these stats and use mobile advertising to get in front of an increasingly connected and on-the-go applicant will have an upper hand on their competition.
2. Poach employees from rival or role model companies
Where a candidate has worked says a lot about the skills she would likely bring to the table. If you’re looking for someone with deep domain experience, you’d likely hire from a leader within the industry. If you’re looking for a rockstar account executive, you may look at the companies with a strong training program for sales development representatives.
Geofencing gives you a way to target individuals within these key companies by drawing a simple perimeter around a corporate campus (or a university campus if you’re looking for entry-level candidates). Of course, geofencing doesn’t mean you’d advertise to every employee at that company. You can still set your normal keywords and demographic targeting parameters; location just adds an additional filter to your search.
Targeting employees at other companies (“talent poaching” or geo-conquesting) is a common practice, particularly in tech. It’s become accepted as fact in Silicon Valley, so much so that a Forbes contributor wrote: “If you want to get poached by Google, join Microsoft.”
So how would a Google recruiter geofence Microsoft?
Simply by dropping a pin around the headquarters at One Microsoft Way in Redmond, Washington.
For a large campus like Microsoft’s, advertisers can choose a larger radius that will envelop the sprawling offices. For a smaller or more urban office, advertisers can restrict the geofence to a single kilometer (0.62 miles), the smallest unit accepted in most advertising platforms.
A one-kilometer radius around Microsoft's campus covers the majority of the company's Redmond-based headquarters.
Of course, even though the job search process is becoming increasingly mobile, employees are still likely to keep their search a secret from their current employer and may be more responsive to a job advertisement once they are in the confines of their own home. Recruiters looking to take this approach can use spatial mapping to trace geofence visitors back to their home locations.
At Spatially, we’ve made this easy. Just use our Behavioral Targeting objective to type in the address of the campus you’re looking to engage, and our platform will analyze the GPS observations of employees working at that campus to identify where these employees commute to and from. You can then launch an advertisement that will reach both their work and home locations.
Using Spatially, recruiters can trace back employees to their home locations, where they might be more responsive to job advertisements.
But wait, can’t I target individuals working for specific employers without geofencing?
Yup. Some platforms like LinkedIn allow you to target by career variables like Employer, Industry, Job Title, and Years of Experience. However, these narrowly defined campaigns can quickly get expensive, especially if you’re targeting a highly coveted audience for an executive placement. (On average, advertisers pay $10 for every click on LinkedIn, while clicks on Facebook or Google typically cost between $1 to $3.)
Geofencing allows you to hack the system, using location as a proxy for targeting the same career variables at a fraction of the price.
In a recent NPR interview, Carol McDaniel, the director of talent acquisition at the John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, reported facing an uphill battle: Finding nurses notoriously “in short supply and high-demand.” With geofencing, she was able to pull in 3-4 applications a week, where before she had almost none.
The best part? Because of how targeted the advertising is, geofencing proved far more cost-effective than her previous tactics, leaving McDaniel to comment: “It’s a much better use of our dollars. We’re not just throwing out a wide net and seeing who comes through the pipeline.”
In the same interview, Parker Staffing Services’ VP Marketing Jacob Rhoades reported seeing “a 40 percent increase in web traffic and an uptick in resumes” after geofencing local graduation ceremonies.
3. Get in front of industry event attendees
Perhaps it’s less about the employer and more about a particular skill set. If so, geofencing an industry event can be a quick and cost-efficient way to get in front of thousands of people that share a coveted skill.
If you’re looking for a Salesforce admin, consider geofencing Dreamforce, the annual Salesforce conference so big it shuts down the city of San Francisco. Or, if you’re looking for a Head of Content or Marketing Automation Manager, try targeting INBOUND, HubSpot’s annual inbound marketing expo held each Fall in Boston. No matter what role you’re looking to fill, there’s likely at least one event that brings many ideal candidates together in a single venue.
Many events offer a physical job board where sponsors can advertise a job. Geofencing is the digital take on this concept—and one that doesn’t even require buying a ticket. Photo credit: Jill Shih, Flickr
Geotargeted advertising can also be used to reinforce a brand at a recruiting event or career fair. Instead of waiting for people to visit your table in a sea of recruiters, geofencing provides a way to make your presence known and proactively drive people to your corner of the room.
If you’re a startup or small business, display advertising has the added benefit of amplifying your brand. According to a study by CareerArc, 75% of candidates consider an employer’s brand before applying for a job. With geofencing, you can ensure that candidates have seen your name and logo before coming up to your table and make your young brand seem bigger and more well known than it may be.
4. Target offline behaviors indicative of your perfect candidate
Are your candidates not the type to work at corporate campuses or frequent industry events? There might be something else in their offline behavior that suggests they’d make a good job candidate.
Recruiters and HR firms can ‘think spatially’ to map out any geographic factors that might be tied to a candidate’s qualifications. The concept is similar to those above: Identify a point of interest you believe your target candidates frequent and draw a virtual perimeter around it with geofencing.
Construction companies and contractors have long used behavioral targeting to geofence physical areas, like Home Depot and other home improvement stores, that attract hard-working and handy individuals.
Even high-end restaurants can employ geofencing to fill critical roles, such as wine sommeliers targeted based on their visits to a local winery or vineyard. As long as there’s a geographic point of interest tied to a candidate’s predicted success in a role, geofencing can provide quick, cost-efficient exposure to the right set of candidates.
Just as with corporate campuses and universities, this point of interest can be the beginning rather than the end of your targeting. Spatial mapping allows recruiters to trace visitors back to their home locations to build awareness throughout the consideration journey. If a contractor visiting Home Depot or a wine connoisseur visiting a vineyard doesn’t happen to see your ad when they’re at that one location, you can always use home targeting to continue the hunt for that perfect candidate.
Fill more roles for less with geofencing for recruiters and HR teams
Finding the right hire is a task easier said than done, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Geofencing offers a creative way to get the exposure you need at a fraction of the cost of premium job listings or LinkedIn targeting.
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