Hiring and developing great talent has always been one of the most important things a company can do.
This is something that even contrarian figures like Steve Jobs can agree with!
What’s changing though, is the way that we hire.
Job boards and untargeted cold emails might work well for entry level positions, but if you want to get top tier talent through the door, you need a new approach – you need to focus on candidate engagement.
Why The Application Isn’t Working
Job adverts make a fundamental assumption that a candidate is actually interested in applying to your company.
This is great for active candidates who are job hunting, but what about everyone else?
What about the candidates that sees one of your tweets? The people that come to your careers page hoping to learn more about your culture?
Prospects that heard from a friend your company was “doing some cool stuff”? Do you think they’re going to click that apply button?
They might do, but it’s more likely that they’ll just leave your website and go back to checking out cat memes!
A shocking 98% of people that visit your careers page leave without taking any action at all.
Typically, the only action visitors can take is an application. The main problem with this is that the passive candidates that hit your site aren’t “ready-to-apply”.
The application is pretty far along in the candidate lifecycle (see below) – asking most site candidates who come to your site to apply is a bit like showing someone a picture of a house and asking if they’ll buy it!
These candidates that come to your site are interested in your employer brand. You have all the makings of a new relationship, but you don’t have the right strategy in place to convert them.
How can you mitigate this?
It’s pretty simple. You need to give candidates another option, you need to let them start a relationship with you and become a ‘lead’.
How To Convert Passive Candidates
If you want to convert passive candidates into leads you have to incentivize them to give you contact details (this is how you’ll nurture the relationship).
They’re not really interested in job alerts (who is?), so you’ll need to think of a reason for them to hand over their information.
i) Non-applications (or CTAs)
According to Matt Charney, 43% of candidates spend 30 minutes or more on the average online application, and 10% spend an hour or more!
This is crazy, particularly when you think about all of the passive candidates who are unsure whether they want to apply in the first place.
You need to offer someone a simple way to register interest. You need a non-application.
You can add a simple form or call-to-action on your website that lets someone add a little personal information in exchange for a place in your talent community.
This appeals to people who are interested, but not ready to apply (exactly the kind of people you should focus on).
ii) Making talent communities worthwhile
Talent communities sometimes get a bit of a bad rep. The accusation is that people are just signing up for job alerts – not particularly inspiring right?
If you want people to give you their information, you need to give them something of value in return.
What does everyone want? Well apart from sex, money and power that is…
People want a better career, they want to learn, they want to connect with other people like them.
This is why Lockheed Martin’s Military Veteran Talent Community is so successful. It’s a highly targeted group, appealing to a specific segment of candidates, and anyone who joins gets a lot of real value.
Lockheed Martin have killed it here. The reason for their success? Specialization.
They’ve focused on one persona. Veterans.
Their ‘military’ community provides veterans with enormous value and helps them re-integrate themselves into civilian life.
What do Lockheed get out of this? Well, they get to tap into a huge pool of talent that is grateful for the positive impact that the company has had on their life.
You may not have Lockheed’s resources, but the key thing to learn here is focus.
Communities based around a specific skillset or persona, will have a better chance of success than ‘generalized’ ones.
iii) Conversations and interactions
Offer candidates opportunities to speak to your team or interact with your company.
This could involve anything from starting a Twitter chat, running a Google Hangout with your candidates and members of your team, hosting an event, or just sponsoring one.
For example, Spotify recently sponsored the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Tech.
What does this offer a company like Spotify?
Access to a pool of highly talented engineers (again note the singular focus), and the chance to make a positive statement in the ongoing ‘Women in Tech’ debate.
You don’t need to do anything on this scale to have success with events. Try sponsoring a local Meetup to gauge value.
Select your Meetup based on the position you’re finding hardest to fill.
The beauty of both of these examples? They’re focused on generating high quality hiring leads by incentivizing candidates to start a relationship with their brand. The next step is engaging these leads…
The Importance Of Engagement
When we’re thinking engaging new hiring leads we can take a lot of guidance from the marketers and the way that they approach customer acquisition.
Why does mirroring marketing make sense?
The customer life cycle has changed. Companies are now prepared to build a relationship with leads before asking them to purchase.
This is far more effective. Think about the last cold sales call you got – how receptive were you?
We’re naturally more primed to buy when we have an existing relationship with the seller, and marketing departments understand this.
This is why all companies have a sales pipeline – they constantly work on moving you through the various stages until you’re ready to purchase.
How can recruiters learn from this?
Effective recruiters understand that it’s important to continuously build a pipeline of prospects whether they’re actively hiring or not.
Building and nurturing these relationships in advance means that when companies are ‘selling’ opportunities they have a receptive base of leads that are interested in learning more.
It’s a simple formula, but it’s helping companies make major strides to boost quality of hire (the best hires take time to woo) and cut time to hire (there’s a pool of people waiting when you have a role to fill).
The Fatal Error To Avoid
The one fatal mistake that most companies make when they’re thinking about lead nurture. They forget about people that have applied previously!
Over time companies amass huge databases stuffed full of thousands of candidates.
All these people identify strongly with your employer brand and are interested in your roles – they applied after all! It’s criminal that this data tends to sit, stale in your ATS.
These candidates may not have been a fit when they initially applied, but they’ve had time to develop new skills and pick up experience. They could be a perfect fit.
Reaching out to these candidates is fast and cost effective.
You don’t need to task your sourcers with finding, emailing and connecting with new talent, you may already have your next hire on the books!
The need to reconnect with previous applicants, (as well as to nurture new leads and encourage them to apply), has led to the rise of a whole new sector of recruiting tech…
The future of recruiting is platforms that focus on the pre-application stage and combine sourcing, branding and engagement.
Whether you choose to use new software or not though, it’s essential that you start thinking actively about engagement, build a hiring pipeline and reconnect with previous applicants.
To call all of this the ‘future’ of recruiting isn’t necessarily accurate. Many companies are leveraging these strategies today and using software to engage and hire better talent.
What is true though, is that there’s a gulf between these forward thinking companiesand everyone else.
Ultimately it’s the companies that are getting engagement right that will continue to flourish.
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