“It’s through engagement with the world, and not separation from it, that something meaningful gets produced.” – Rachel Kushner
One of the more important tasks your recruitment team must manage is ensuring there is a large enough audience of interested people from which your company can hire. When it really comes down to it, recruiting well is all about being able to engage with your audience and keep them excited about your company. If there’s nobody to engage with, there’s nobody to hire. Simple as that. There are many ways to identify, develop, and engage with an audience and we’ll highlight a few you should be considering.
Real, actionable engagement must attract passive and active job seekers, ideally through multi-channel programs that take advantage of the different types of candidates available in your industry pool. There are many possible channels to swim down but in this example we’ll focus on some of the typical approaches most commonly found in a well-rounded recruiting program.
First, don’t underestimate the value of job applicants. People hold onto a pervasive idea that high-quality employees don’t show up in applicant pools – these are likely the same people that have not developed their employment brand and aren’t leveraging their advertising properly, most likely without even realizing the problem lies in their control. At practically any point in time there is always a reasonably large group of people actively looking for a new job for whatever conceivable reason. The problem isn’t that great people aren’t looking for jobs – the problem is that you aren’t getting your message through the noise and reaching them with your opportunity.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s a very strong similarity between running an online marketing campaign and running a candidate search. The right content via the right channels will attract the right people. In this blog series we have already established the importance of understanding the value proposition your company offers to attract applicants. Career site postings, job ads (free and paid,) social media channels, and relevant community sites like Glassdoor play a huge part in defining how people see you and begin to develop your employer brand. Success comes easier with a great value proposition and often requires less resources and effort than you might think. If the branding is done well, it will generate a strong flow of people with the skill sets you need and an existing interest in joining your company.
There is a strong belief in the recruiting industry that the best candidates aren’t looking and we define these candidates as “Passive candidates.” Working with passive candidates is a disciplined exercise in highly targeted marketing that allows you to develop an extremely specific audience profile and outreach messing that’s optimized for that small group (or even a single person.) This is a great way to grow your brand within defined communities, and engage with people you would otherwise be unable to reach.
The passive candidate recruiting process starts with research, initially by defining the ideal person for the role you’re trying to fill. For example, I could be looking for UX Designers in Seattle with 3 years of experience working on enterprise cross-platform web applications, a good online project portfolio, and a predilection for small teams. Next it comes down to finding these people, where they present their professional lives whether that be on LinkedIn, on Github, on specialty portfolio sites like Coroflot. If not in places like that, then we find people through their personal websites, through their involvement with industry groups, or through referral processes. You can use tools like LinkedIn InMails to message these candidates directly, or scour the web to find other contact details and reach out more intimately.
This can be a very effective way to get your messaging across – so effective in fact that it is highly abused. Too many lazy recruiters have taken the carpet-bombing approach, spamming their cookie-cutter messages to thousands of candidates based on nothing but a keyword match on their resume or professional profile. As a result people often ignore these messages, (perhaps rightly) interpreting them as apathetic spam, and this attitude makes it harder and harder to get quality content in front of the right people. It pays to develop a message as tailored as possible that reaches the correct candidates without looking like just another impersonal recruiting blast.
Using some of these strategies effectively should allow you to build a large group of potential employees, though it’s likely you’ll only hire a small percentage right now. In many cases the fit simply won’t be right – salary, timing, location, skillset, team fit, experience level – and there will be many reasons on both sides that prevent a deal being done. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste! If it didn’t work out with one candidate, you can return to your pool of pre-curated community of engaged potential employees and it’s very likely you’ll want to hire some of them in future.
Continuing to develop and maintain this community is one of the most effective ways to hire quickly (and well) in the future. When you’re not hiring, or when the fit isn’t right, you can continue to grow the community together with your brand. Smart companies invite this community to tech talks or other professional events to build their brands and let passive candidates “kick the tires” in a non-threatening, non-sales way.
Identifying, developing, and maintaining your candidate audience is a key part of being an effective recruiter. Done well, it will save your countless time and energy during the hiring process, and can be a surprisingly effective way to grow brand awareness – and not just your employer brand. This is also one of the best places to start addressing diversity – if you’re not careful to be inclusive now, you’ll likely end up with a uniform audience, making it that much harder to diversify the team. If you’ve been wondering why there’s no diversity in the interview stage, it may very well be an engagement problem. Consider the number of people touched by recruiting for every hire, multiplied by the number of hires you’d make in a year. If every one of those can leave the process as an evangelist for your company, the rewards will be significant.
Be intentional about creating the engagement community, and then engage them–keep them happy and warm, give them access to new opportunities and content to expand their social and professional networks. You may be surprised how well you can fuel a talent engine by maintaining your candidate pools alone.
Tune into the next episode, when we’ll dive into the art of curating candidate lists and other methods in order to more effectively communicate with Hiring Managers and foster a true, lasting recruiting partnership.