As president and founder of a staffing firm that’s celebrating 20 years in business, I’ve experienced first-hand the ups and downs of the recruitment market. A consistent challenge all firms face — regardless of economic conditions — is finding enough qualified candidates to effectively fill our clients’ needs. Nothing is more frustrating for your recruiters, sales staff or managers than to see a great client opportunity wasted due to lack of quality and quantity in your candidate database.
As job growth continues to improve, the competition for top talent is becoming even tighter. This requires an even greater focus on effective ways to spark the growth and reinvigoration of your candidate database. Here are four keys to building and maintaining your candidate database in all market conditions:
1. Remember A-B-C: Always Be looking for qualified Candidates
Successful recruiters understand that the search for top talent never ends – you are never done recruiting. There’s an old adage in baseball, “You can never have enough pitching.” The same is true in staffing – you can never have enough qualified candidates in your database. Recruiters should always be “on” – finding and qualifying candidates not only for immediate requirements but also for future roles. Just because a candidate may not be a fit for a job today, does not mean that they should be dismissed and set aside. A requirement could come in tomorrow, and that candidate your recruiter spoke to today could be the perfect fit. If the candidate was treated respectfully and enthusiastically, there’s a good chance they’ll respond positively when they’re contacted about a new client opening.
Referrals are also a critical component to building your database and for your long-term success. The recruitment team should always ask for a direct referral from each candidate they engage with. Too often recruiters forget to ask the question that can set them up for success: “Do you know anyone else who might be a fit for this job?” This simple question can make the difference between filling a current or future role or coming up short on a requirement.
2. Recruitment through Engagement – Useful Content
As many firms are now focusing on their online presence and inbound marketing as part of their recruitment process, they often make the mistake of constantly pushing out content that is entirely focused on current job openings. The job seekers who aren’t a fit for your “hot jobs” can feel inundated and will eventually tune you out. They will opt out of your company newsletter, delete your emails, stop visiting your website or won’t take your recruiters’ calls.
In order to prevent this, the content you create needs to be about them not you. Hot jobs and current openings should only be a part of your overall content story.
Engage your candidate database by providing helpful information via blogs or articles on your website, newsletters, or on social media channels. Career advice, employment trends, interviewing techniques or industry information can help to engage passive candidates and keep them coming back to you. They will also be more likely to share that content with others, helping to build your brand and gain you referrals. Providing relevant, useful information sends the message that it’s not just about filling the current jobs you have, but rather about connecting with your prospects as a valued professional. Your recruiters will be showcased as consultative, knowledgeable career advisers instead of headhunters interested only in pushing out today’s requirements.
3. Social Media: Viral Recruitment, Engagement and Fun
Compared to other industries, the staffing industry was a bit slow to adopt social media for the purposes of branding and marketing. This has changed over the past two or three years, and many firms now have social media outposts, with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest among the most popular. However, what many organizations fail to do is actually use their social media channels on a daily basis to engage their audience and grow their database.
Social media is only as good as the content that engages visitors and putting your firm at the forefront when it comes to career opportunities. The vast majority of active and passive job seekers in today’s market engage with social media-related content on a regular basis for professional information. Regularly published, high-quality, informative content allows you to stay in touch with existing candidates, as well as gain referrals and visibility through viral sharing and distribution.
For daily postings, take content that was created for your newsletter or blog (see tip #2) and modify it for social media, or create original content and add links that will lead them back to your company website, newsletter sign up, or to specific jobs. This will help you pull in and engage candidates you may not ordinarily attract.
Your team should also have some fun with your social media presence as well. Recruiters should be directly involved in creating and posting content daily. Each recruiter should be engaging the audience with the promotion of initiatives like your referral bonus program, the unique benefits of working with your organization, and demonstrating their expertise through industry observations, and success stories. Recruiters should be given reasonable license to post creative images, pictures, quotes, or humorous anecdotes that are professional in nature, but give the audience a chance to see their personal side. This will help to establish the recruiter’s personal brand within your organization, get them engaged, and differentiate your firm in the market.
4. Don’t be Bashful – Tell Your Success Stories
Candidates want to work with winners. They want to know that your staffing firm has a track record of success in the marketplace. Too often firms don’t do enough to tell the candidate world about their success stories in finding the “right fit” for candidates and clients. Your company’s website, social media channels, email signatures, newsletters and marketing initiatives should be prominently telling your success stories.
Testimonials from candidates and clients should be recent, relevant, numerous, and readily available online. In particular, testimonials from candidates illustrating how your recruiters took the time to work with them to find the match are like gold. If a candidate sees that your firm has a quantifiable track record and cares about the long-term satisfaction of applicants, they are much more likely to work with you, or refer other candidates to your organization. Reference checks on candidates are second nature to recruiters – testimonials and referrals from candidates and clients are the equivalent of public reference checks on your company.
It’s never easy finding and keeping qualified professionals for your candidate database, but these four tips should help you succeed in attracting new candidates and actively engaging existing ones to keep them fresh in any market condition. Remember, candidate pull is an activity that never really ends for any successful staffing firm.