About Eric Putkonen

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  • Biography: Talent Acquisition expert and Entrepreneur with an interest in marketing and video production. Other interests include Social Media, Performance-based Hiring, Wood Turning, Cooking, & Zen/Nondual Philosophy.

Posts by Eric Putkonen:


Will A/B Testing Be the Next Big Thing in Recruiting?

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 04/25/2017 in NeoRecruiting Talks |

At the end of last year, ERE published an article called “9 Talent-acquisition Trends to Watch for in 2017.”  I was excited to see one of the bullet points was as follows:

A/B testing will become a critical factor in the battle for talent. Do fewer candidates drop off during the application process if you reduce your number of screening questions? Is a candidate more likely to join your talent network if you include an employee video on your site? Do candidates respond faster if you email or text them? More HR teams will be testing and gathering intelligence to optimize their process and communications strategies because chances are their competitors are already doing it.

If you are unfamiliar with A/B testing, it means testing one version of something against another to see which version performs best and then utilizing those results for future campaigns and even future tests.

I was excited because I have been speaking about split testing (i.e. A/B testing) for a long time now and about what it could do for us in recruiting.  I wrote about this almost two years ago in “This is What Recruiting Could Learn from Direct Marketing.”  I have long believed we should be A/B testing our most re-used job postings.  That way we can change elements of the job post, like wording, pictures, videos, etc., to see which job postings attract the most top level talent.

You change only one variable at a time, but over time the job post will become better and better at targeting and attracting the people we want to apply.  This does take time, because you need your sample sizes to be statistically significant – but it also doesn’t have to be a huge sample size either.  This continuous improvement, however, adds up over time and the talent acquisition department (not marketing) should understand how to test their own content.  It is not difficult to do.

You can test all sorts of things in recruiting:

  • Job Titles
  • Job Descriptions/Posts (format and content, including qualifications and requirements)
  • Template Email or LinkedIn Subject Lines
  • Template Email or LinkedIn Messages
  • Prescreening Questions in ATS
  • Phone and In-Person Interview Questions (number, type, etc.)
  • Application Process
  • Application Method
  • Corporate Careers Site (look, layout, length, etc.  Number of applications and time spent on site and how many pages viewed.)
  • EVPs or other “hooks”

Most companies still do not do this, and I just don’t understand that.  There are many reasons to A/B test in recruiting:

  • In marketing, there are numerous case studies showing utilizing A/B testing increases conversion rates.  For recruiting, conversion rates would most directly correlate to applications…and also quality of applications.
  • Reduces bounce rates.  In recruiting, this would be number of people who view the job post, but do not apply.
  • Better website content and content engagement because you must discuss which content is valuable and why. As you generate the variables to be tested, you create a list of potential content improvements.
  • It makes recruiting more fact and metric based.  Organizations using A/B testing value data over opinions.
  • Lowers risks in making changes because you test variables in a sample, get the results, and then if the results are good…implement globally.  You don’t make big changes without knowing what it will do.
  • One of the best things about A/B testing is that it is so simple to analyze real, factual results with the method. When analyzing data from an A/B test, it’s relatively easy to determine a “winner” and a “loser” based on simple, straightforward metrics (i.e. time spent on page, conversions, etc.)

I keep hearing that Talent Acquisition is ever more focused on metrics.  I think A/B testing is an easy way to measure (through the numbers) what changes we make are the right changes and have the most impact.  Otherwise, we are making changes blindly and not really knowing if what we were doing (before the change) was actually better or not.

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It’s Illegal to Inquire About a Job Applicant’s Salary History

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 04/11/2017 in Recruiting articles |

That’s right another joins in…the New York City Council has enacted legislation (effective in 180 days) prohibiting employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s “salary history.”   They are not the only ones.  There are several cities and states thinking about passing similar laws – some already have.  For example, Philadelphia passed such a law at […]

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Can We Please Stop Asking for Cover Letters Yet?

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 03/31/2017 in Recruiting articles |

From what I can see, it seems most companies still ask for cover letters.  Isn’t this just one more hurdle and inconvenience to make applicants go through that really doesn’t add value? Based on my experience, cover letters are not needed anymore.  I know I am not alone in this (from speaking with peers), but […]

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Why Are We Still Using Stock Photos on Our Careers Sites?

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 03/14/2017 in Recruiting articles |

I pretty consistently read the articles on ERE and have done so for years.  Many of the articles are geared towards showing innovation in recruiting and how we could all be doing things better.  Other times, you get articles that tell you things that are obvious but so many companies still are behind the ball […]

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Words Matter: Recruitment Copywriting 101

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 02/28/2017 in Recruiting articles |

If you have not read it, I recommend reading “The Psychology of Persuasion” by Kevin Hogan.  It is a book that many marketers would be familiar with and the content is backed by scientific studies. One of the sections of the book is about the power of words.  The most powerful word that can be […]

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Often Recruiters Can Never Truly Be a Partner

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 02/16/2017 in Recruiting articles |

I have been a recruiter for a long time and spoken with a lot of my peers about this.  In the end, I think Human Resources/Talent Acquisition has messed up the possibility of being partners to many hiring managers.  We keep saying hiring managers are our primary customers.  There is a difference between customers and […]

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Is There a Better Way Than Resume Review?

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 01/27/2017 in Recruiting articles |

I recently watched “Why hiring is broken” by Kate Glazebrook from TEDxGoodenoughCollege.  Yet another person saying resumes are broken (which is true), but this time with research to back it up.  They don’t really do a good job predicting performance and they allow biases to creep in. What good is a resume really?  As a […]

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Screening Out the Takers from the Candidate Pool

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 01/10/2017 in Recruiting articles |

I recently saw a great TED Talk by Adam Grant that was just posted this month via the TED Talk app on my AppleTV.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a YouTube link for the TED Talk yet, but I found a link to a similar talk he gave on the same topic at ZeitgeistMinds called “Givers, Takers, […]

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Measuring Quality of Hire in Recruiting

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 12/21/2016 in Recruiting articles |

Per the Global Recruiting Trends 2017 by LinkedIn, in the top 3 of recruiting metrics we see “length of stay” and “hiring manager satisfaction.”  Both of these point towards quality of hire.  Another main recruiting metric is “time to fill,” but this metric is about recruiting efficiency and not quality of hire. “Length of stay” […]

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VR: New Possibilities for Virtual Reality in Recruiting

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 12/06/2016 in Recruiting articles |

I recently gave myself an early Christmas present…a Sidardoe 3D VR goggles/headset.  I would not necessarily recommend them beyond just a really cheap viewer ($22) to try virtual reality video out.  I just put my iPhone into the headset’s case and pull up videos…many on YouTube. What amazed me most was watching an online video […]

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