My last article (Permission Marketing For Recruiters: Building a Targeted List) spoke about the concept of permission marketing and gave some specifics about building a list of potential candidates through networking and other means. Today, I’ll offer some content guidelines to help you use email to build a relationship with these candidates over time. As I mentioned before, permission marketing must be anticipated, personal, and relevant. Now that a growing group of potential candidates have given you permission to interact with them in this fashion, you have accomplished the first of the three tenets ó your interaction is anticipated. This does not mean the candidate is waiting for your email. But it does mean that when it comes, they are less likely to have a “who is this and why the heck are they emailing me?” response. What To Send There are basically two types of content that you should send to your permission marketing list: “actionable” and “informational.” Actionable content includes what marketers refer to as a “call to action.” It encourages potential candidates to do something, such as:
- Apply for a position
- Refer a job to someone they know
- Attend a career open house
Informational content will encompass all other purely informative subject matter that aims at building your brand and a relationship with the potential candidates. For example:
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- Current news about funding, product releases, and financial information such as a rising stock price or profits
- “Day in the life” pieces about current employees at your company, or other stories that relate to the candidate’s job interests
- Information that establishes your firm as an employer of choice and demonstrates innovation, best practices, and employee-centric programs or philosophies.
The optimal message blends both actionable and informational content. Obviously, if you are doing college recruiting, you may not want to send open positions to freshmen or sophomores. But for most of your candidates, job listings will be among the most valuable content in their eyes and can be bolstered with current information that strengthens your company brand. Reintroduce Yourself For at least the first email or two, remind the candidate of who you are with a short, personalized introduction. This will gently jog the potential candidate’s memory and reinforce that you have their permission to contact them. These subtle reminders of who you are can be automated with mail-merge fields that reference the candidate’s name and other items, like the date you spoke to them or added them to your list. For example: “<Steve>, we spoke on <February 23rd> regarding <engineering> positions at XYZ Corp…” Personalize with Relevance Inserting the candidate’s name in a salutation is a nice touch, but the most important aspect of making the information personal and relevant is to make the content personally relevant to the candidate. This means sending them only the jobs and information that are relevant to their interests ó or, as many marketers call it, addressing the “what’s in it for them” question. For example, if stock options are part of your benefits package, then sharing a trend of rising stock prices addresses a personal value to the candidate. This tailored content can be created quickly if you use mail merging and other technology to streamline the process. If you leverage templates in this manner, creating something personalized need not be difficult or time consuming. If it still seems like a lot of work, ask yourself how much extra effort some of these prized passive candidates are worth. Make Them Feel Special It is human nature to gravitate towards relationships where we are made to feel special and valued. By offering membership perks to those on your list, you may increase their interest. This extra layer of service and information may draw out the passive candidates who are hesitant about exploring other opportunities. Here are some ideas:
- Supply information, like salary ranges, that normally isn’t published on your website.
- Allow candidates to “come to the front of the line” for a personalized interaction with you and skip the standard online application process.
- Offer to answer some of their initial questions before they actually apply.
Sweeten the Pot Getting your emails opened and read is one of the great challenges of reaching out to truly passive candidates. Valuable content is critical, but taking even more aggressive steps may increase your success. One idea, which may dramatically increase readership of your information, is to simply make it worth the candidate’s while financially. Consider extending your employee referral fee (or at least a partial amount) to these “friends” of your company. By offering them a referral fee, you may tap into their personal networks and encourage them to at least scan your information, even if they personally have no current interest in other opportunities. Besides creating “viral marketing” exposure, putting a check in a candidate’s hand for a referral fee can only help in galvanizing a relationship with them. Don’t Speak Without Something Interesting To Say As a rule, err on sending fresh, high-quality content less frequently instead of mediocre or repetitive content on a regular basis. Depending on the candidate’s situation, once a month to once a quarter may be plenty for most passive candidates ó anything more may be considered intrusive or, even worse, badgering. You must be the judge of striking this critical balance between the timing and quality of information. Look at what you are sending and ask yourself if it is something you would be willing to put in an envelope and mail to a candidate, or would even be comfortable calling them out of the blue to discuss. Do not permit the ease of sending email to loosen your commitment to sending only valuable information. Your objective is to cultivate an interest on the part of the candidate so that you’re on their radar when they choose to consider other opportunities. By providing actionable and informational content that is personally relevant to a candidate, you multiply your chances of being a candidate’s top choice and making them your next great hire.