A/B Testing: Simple yet Effective Way to Engage in Continuous Improvement

If you’re not moving forward in the Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) industry, you’re falling behind. 

Recruitment strategies and the RPO industry are evolving at a breakneck pace, and practices that enticed candidates to chat with us and apply for our jobs a year ago won’t elicit the same response in 2013 and beyond. Candidates are likely to tire of the tactics and pitches they saw last month—even last week. If we want to provide clients with the best candidates, we must engage in constant and continuous improvement.

One simple way recruiters can demonstrate systemic continuous improvement is through A/B testing. The best part: this simple yet effective assessment strategy barely adds any work to your already-full plate.

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You’re likely already leveraging A/B testing without even knowing it. The concept is simple:

1.) Determine an area of your recruiting practices wherein results are flat or you see room for improvement.

2.) Develop a hypothesis. For example, I think this would work better if I did X-Y-Z instead of A-B-C. 

3.) Set up a test with two versions of something: One version the old way and a second version using your new idea (Not unlike high school science class, you’re testing your hypothesis with a control group and a test group). 

4.) Track your results for a few weeks; longer tests yield a larger sample size, so three weeks are better than two, and so on.

Let me give you an example from the world of recruitment – Job Posts

1.) Create two versions of a job post. One version should use the same format that you have always used. The second version should feature a change that you hope/believe/hypothesize will persuade more candidates to apply. For instance, change the opening paragraph to see which tone works better:

  • Option A: Are you ready to work as hard as you play? We have an awesome company culture that encourages community involvement, extracurricular activities and creative thought. Our Junior Software Engineer job opening presents a great opportunity to join a team with plenty of chances for career advancement.

(The remainder of this post should be identical to the remainder of the Option B post.)

  • Option B: We’re seeking a Junior Software Engineer to join our Research and Development team. This role provides an opportunity to join our company at a junior level with a clear path for promotion.

(The remainder of this post should be identical to the remainder of the Option A post.) 

2.) After a couple weeks, measure which post yielded better results. You know the type of talent you’re seeking, so you decide what defines success. For instance, you could measure:

  • The number of candidates who clicked on the link to apply for Post A versus Post B;
  • The number of candidates who completed the application from Post A versus Post B; or
  • The number of high-quality candidates who completed the application from Post A versus Post B

A/B testing can be used in a number of additional ways and for a variety of reasons. Here are just a few examples:

  • Email Campaigns
  • LinkedIn In-Mails
  • Cold Calls
    • For example, which introduction leads to more conversations, or which conversational emphasis leads to more scheduled interviews
  • Job Offers
    • For example, which phrasing leads to more accepts, or which phrasing leads to more immediate accepts

Still pessimistic or believe A/B test won’t work for you? If so, I strongly suggest checking out Ginny Soskey’s recent article on Hubspot entitled 11 Common A/B Testing Myths BUSTED. Soskey directly addresses marketers, which is perfect because, as recruiters, we’re marketing requisitions and our clients to potential candidates in everything we do. And Soskey handily dispels any hesitation you may have about dedicating your time to A/B testing.

As you set up your A/B test, remember this: If you want to understand what causes one version to work better or worse than the other, you can only have one variable (one difference). If there are two or three or more variables between version one and version two, you won’t know which is responsible for your results. Stick to changing one component at a time. You can always test again later with a new variable. 

There are so many beautiful elements of the A/B test; you can begin a new test the moment you finish the previous test, and you can apply findings to so many circumstances within recruiting. Ultimately, A/B testing is a simple way to produce metrics that will make you look good (and deservedly so). It’s a brilliantly simple strategy for any recruiter seeking to engage in continuous improvement. 

Post contributed by Carolyn Humpherson, Marketing Aficionado and Pinstripe Social Media Specialist.

Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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