Investing in Recruitment Q&A With Sam Blonder

Recruitment always comes at a cost, but making the cost worthwhile is not always easy. I sat down with Epic Recruiting’s CEO Sam Blonder, to find out why this is true and how to make a recruiting budget extend as far as possible. Every dollar invested into recruiting should aim towards the same goal of getting qualified applicants for the open position. Blonder works to achieve this goal by following a similar recruitment plan as Fortune 500 companies.

Q: Recruiting can be seen as a huge expense for law enforcement agencies, why is recruitment so expensive?


So I think law enforcement agencies should look at recruiting on two fronts, there’s an expense, and there’s an investment. So, on the investment side, you look at creating the brand for the agency. It’s really more of an investment than an expense because this is something that will serve the agency year after year after year. Great recruiting brands, pre recruiting content, recruiting websites, these are things that the agency will invest in once and be able to use and get value out of for years and years. So I wouldn’t consider that an expense. To me, that’s an investment. 

Recruiting after that initial brand is definitely an expense. Whether it’s expensive or not, I guess it’s subjective. I mean, how important is it to get the right people into the job? How important is it to have the really highly qualified candidates seeking you out? How important is it to make sure that the people who show up when you ask for backup or people that you are really thrilled you hire? So I wouldn’t even use the word expensive, I would just say, yeah, there is an expense involved. But really, it’s something that most private sector companies around the world understand. There is an expense to attracting talents, and this is part of doing business.

Q: How much on average does a department spend on recruitment?


Unfortunately, what we’ve typically seen is that most agencies have never spent extensively on recruiting. It is very typical for us to be with an agency that has literally spent $0, being in they had no budget, and no discretionary spending for recruiting. So part of our process is educating agencies on the value that is created for the agency, would they create this line item in the budget for recruiting, and really, that’s where it needs to begin. Most agencies, when they reach out to us, they’re in this panic mode, because nobody is applying and they don’t know where to start. We’re going to get them to where they go. But eventually, recurring needs to be an item in their budget, just like vests, just like vehicles. Recruiting is something that will constantly be a need moving forward, so they should budget accordingly.

Q: Can digital marketing strategies reduce recruitment costs?


Yes because of how they work and have a higher return on investment. Meaning that if I’m going to spend $500, I want to spend it where I’m going to get the best return. So I wouldn’t look at it as we’ll be able to spend less money on digital but the money we do have to spend will provide higher results than they would with traditional. So again, it should be part of the strategic plan and hey, we’ve got this amount of money to spend promoting the recruiting brand. If we put it towards television, the return will be lower than if we put it towards digital or whatever we decide, or whatever the same digital identifier.

Q: Should police departments use the same strategies as fortune 500 companies when recruiting?


Yes, look, the private sector is driven by profit. So they are always going to find the highest return on investment, the shortest path from here to there, and the best chance at getting the highest quality candidate. So those things have already been figured out. This is not reinventing the wheel. This is not you know, Epic does something nobody else can do. This is Epic Recruiting, understanding what law enforcement is looking for and recruiting and applying the best practices that are already used in the private sector to what law enforcement is trying to accomplish. It’s not some rare occasion that this works. This is simply, hey, this is what is going to provide results. Let’s put our time and energy here.

Q: What is a good cost per hire in police recruiting?


Just to reaffirm, we look at costs different from investment. So after that initial brand is created, content produced, website up, those costs are separate items that I wouldn’t really consider a cost per hire, because again, that’s supporting the main mission of the agency, which is presenting a strong recruiting brand. After those things are created, there is a formula of approximately $5,000 per hire that a lot of fortune 500 companies utilize with the understanding that they’re going to have to go out and spend a minimum of $5,000 per person they want to hire. That cost could be extrapolated obviously over how many people we were looking to hire in a year. Again, after the creative and branding has been established, otherwise, you’ve got nothing to market to those people.

Q: What are ways to reduce recruitment costs?


Reducing costs is something that we take really seriously at Epic because we’re trying to extend our client dollar as far as possible. We want them to get as much as possible on every dollar they invest in recruiting. We tackle this really over three ways. One of them is with an overall strategic plan. Usually when we’re meeting with an agency, they have at some point, thrown money at television, radio, or billboard and they’re just kind of throwing money whatever knocks on our door next, hoping that that’s the lightning in a bottle. We recommend looking at it more as a strategic plan. Most departments have strategic plans for everything else in the department, but they seem to be lacking one from recruiting. So developing that plan will help them save costs because they will be only investing dollars in things that they have put time and research into. They will know that this plan will help them reach their end goal. So at least the dollars have some thinking behind them, as opposed to gut reactions to situations they find themselves as a reaction to shortage of staff.

Number two is brand consistency. We typically see agencies who have not had a consistent recruiting brand, even if they’re lucky enough to have one. Maybe new leadership comes in and starts changing the brand, changing fonts and colors around.  Unknowingly making the brand unrecognizable. Now they’re spending money promoting that and they’re starting to get zero. So having an overall strategic brand that is used year after year will help you spend your money more efficiently, meaning the dollar I spend on recruiting today will support the dollar I spend tomorrow on the latter. So in three years, the money they’re spending will stand on the shoulders of the money that was previously spent. Doing this means that spending less of it has had an impact on people, I won’t have to run as many ads for people to remember it. 

Lastly, related to recruiting costs, I would say analytics. We are hard advocates for having a standalone recruiting website. The main reason for that is that we would like agencies to start utilizing the data those websites provide. Analytics is just data on the website. If you’re running multiple campaigns across multiple platforms, you have to be able to look and understand and see what’s working. Most agencies have been doing the same things year after year related to recruiting, meaning they do the same job fair and they don’t know if it works or not. They just do it because they’ve always done it. Those are dollars being put into the job fair may or may not be going to waste, you do not know. The data will tell you what’s working, the website will be the indicator of where to continue spending money or where to change it up and put it in, or if it’s time to change it up and put it elsewhere.

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