For at least five years, recruiters like you have been told that you need to think more like marketers. The market has changed and the challenge is unavoidable, as the pitch goes.
You want to be at the forefront of your game. So you try to speak the language of the marketer. You ask members of your team to be more social. You talk about how you can nurture better candidates.
Still, nothing seems to change.
As a marketer who has worked with recruiters on this challenge, I offer you some of the secrets of our success. Please keep these well-guarded secrets to yourself. Otherwise you risk losing your competitive advantage.
Secret #1 — Imagine your job application process as the last step in a much longer funnel
There are a couple of distinct moments that happen in your brain before your path to purchase begins. Great marketers know this. Most often they happen without you realizing. There is the moment you become aware that you have a particular want. Then there is the moment that you become aware of a brand in the market that might be able to deliver upon that.
The real magic happens when we can make those two things happen as close together as possible. The same is true in the world of talent acquisition with a couple of key distinctions.
Over at The Savage Truth, Greg Savage once said, “everyone is a candidate, all of the time.” We are all often open to new possibilities, even when we are not looking for an opportunity. Build long-term relationships with candidates who have not yet started to apply for jobs.
Start thinking about how to create great relationships early on. This lets you create that “aha” moment. The one where your prospect realizes they want a potential career with your organization. From there, educate them about the possibilities and the realities of working with you.
Secret #2 — Flip your funnel and start your research with your most successful candidates
Too often, recruiters seeking to emulate marketers follow the inbound marketing process. They try to build a broad audience and whittle it down to a few potential suitors for their business. The problem with this is that you end up generating a huge amount of waste. You spend time and money on content that provides no real value for people that you do not want to serve.
Joseph Jaffe, author of Flip the Funnel, offers us an alternative. What if you started with your best customers (or in your case, recent hires)? There is a benefit of beginning with a smaller set. You can model the ideal behaviors that you want. Then you gear your activities to find more individuals just like them.
There is a second benefit of “flipping the funnel.” You will have a ready-made cohort to learn about what makes great hires stay (or leave).
In sales, it costs quite a bit more to gain a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. The same is just as true when it comes to employees, if not more.
Secret #3 — Go Beyond the Big 3 Social Networks
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are not going away. These will continue to be excellent places to learn about your prospective hires. They are not the only place to do so. To get the answers to certain questions, step outside the boundaries of the popular sites.
In my experience, reviews on Glassdoor can be a treasure trove of information. Take each one with a grain of salt, and recognize that each one offers you some truth. They are a window into the way your organization looks to applicants and employees. In our reviews, we learned that our website should have more content about the nature of our projects. Applicants wanted to understand the amount of travel expected of them. Finally, they wanted to understand the total compensation packages for our staff.
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You are trying to attract good candidates. You also want to allow candidates who might not be a fit to qualify themselves out of the process.
Secret #4 — Answer the Frequently Unasked Questions
In many industries, particularly when we’re dealing with solving challenges that the buyers do not face very often, we say that they “don’t know what they don’t know.” They simply don’t know the correct questions to ask you in your sales process, and so marketing to them effectively means educating them. John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing, calls these Frequently Unasked Questions.
Interviews with recent hires can be a valuable source of data for FUQs in your organization. Do you use an applicant tracking system such as Greenhouse? If so, you can get a sense of the amount of time it took recent hires to get through the process. Recent hires are often enthusiastic about improving the hiring process for others.
Secret #5 — Start with dialogue and expand with content developed for the audience
Communicating with your audience does not mean you need to invest in content creation up front. Try to create community with this new group of potential hires. You want them to realize how much they enjoy the company of your company. You might start by sharing, or curating, valuable content from other sources.
A method I advocate for organizations developing content for targeted accounts is the “3 C’s approach.” Start by curating content that you know your prospects will enjoy. Next start to create original content with your organization’s point of view. Finally, you can customize that content for individuals or specific channels to make it more effective.
Acting like a marketer means keeping a fresh perspective on why we are using the tactics that we are. It means continuing to experiment until you get the right result for your organization. It is also combining approaches for quality results, not only higher numbers.
These tactics are one part of the puzzle. Knowing when and where to apply them is the other. At this spring’s ERE conference, I will be speaking about how to model your candidate journey. I encourage you to hear more in Las Vegas.