Your Neglected Talent Community Needs a Makeover

I know that you’re distracted by all the cool new shiny things being offered to you right now. Snapchat looks cool. Facebook Live looks cool. Video job descriptions look cool. Realities, both augmented and virtual, look super cool. And they are.

And for whatever reason, recruitment marketing and talent acquisition have started to get serious about these tools and ideas. I don’t know if they’ve tapped into that flush marketing budget or are selling unused printers “after hours” to create a little windfall, but the conversations I am having with people in that space is all about “show me what’s cool.”

So, because I’m a bit of a contrarian, I look backwards. I see the pile of once-loved tools and tech sitting around doing very little, like a Goodwill for recruiting tech. There’s an ERP someone had to have. There’s a Google+ channel collecting dust. Oh, and that thing that autoplays a video on the homepage? No one wants that anymore.

And there, between the 2010 strategy binder and the tool that pushes your jobs to Del.icio.us is something you might have forgotten about, something that probably trumps all those cool new tools if only you’d spend a little time reinventing it.

Email

Yes, email. Email is still king. Do you know anyone over the age of 12 who doesn’t have an email address and doesn’t check it at least daily? Do you know anyone who doesn’t have their email tab pinned to their laptop browser and on the home screen of their phone? I bet the last time you went three hours during the day, you wondered if your internet connection died.

The best part of email is that when you develop an email list, it belongs to you. If you have a million followers on Facebook, posting to Facebook will only reach 10,000 of them. And at any point Facebook can change the rules, making it harder for you to leverage the audience you built. They’ve done it many times before. If you are going to build an audience, build it on a platform you own, not one you rent.

Email works. But maybe hasn’t worked for you.

In a time when the cool new stuff is begging for your budget, the biggest ROI opportunity available to you is re-think your talent community system.

Actually, dispense with the term “talent community.” A “community” is a place where people come together and connect and establish two-way communication that is beneficial to all parties involved. Despite the number of companies touting a talent community, they are rarely there to build communication and understand, but as a means to broadcast your message at them.

So maybe we change the term to “talent pool.” Or we take a page from sales and refer to them as simply “leads.” These are people who have effectively raised their hand and said they were interested in getting more information. Then they gave you their email address and likely the kinds of roles they were interested in. Calling this a “community” is a bit of a stretch.

But how many of your are actually doing something with a community? Some of you are sending them related jobs as they are added to the ATS. That would be great if your job descriptions were well-written marketing materials, but they aren’t. They’re job descriptions.

Some of you are using the pool of email addresses as a CRM for your recruiters. They search for resumes or locations or career areas and send a mass email to people meeting a query criteria a message. Usually, that message is a one-to-two line bit of “hi! I thought you might be interested in this” copy and paste text that links to … a job description.

And some of you collect emails like Pokemon, putting the signup form on every single page, but then to exactly nothing with them. I know of a company who has built a list of more than 200,000 opt-in email addresses, but never use it to send a message.

If an email marketer saw this they would gasp. Email is pervasive and ubiquitous, but that doesn’t mean it’s magical. You can’t just spam people with job descriptions and hope to get a positive response. Email marketing as a term is wrong. We should call it “marketing on email” to avoid thinking that the channel is the most important element. It’s not.

So let’s take this opportunity to re-think your entire lead-generation process on email.

Start With the Call to Action

Email addresses are valuable to both you and the lead. You want a communication channel you trust. They want useful information. But if you look at the sign-up form on your site, why on earth would anyone sign up?

The text surrounding your form usually sounds like this: “Stay up to date on job openings!” or “Sign up for job alerts!” It’s not a compelling reason to give up one’s email address, to let a company spam you. A better call to action might be: “Join more than 10,000 readers to get job hunting tips and industry news” or “Learn from our recruiters how to be a better prospect.” The focus needs to be is establishing a reason why someone would give up their address, not on why you want the address.

Of course, this change in call to action presumes that you are actually delivering something of value beyond job descriptions they can find on Indeed. This leads to the second element of our reinvention.

Deliver Something Worth Reading

There is a correlation between how easy it is to automate a process to send jobs to someone and how useful and valuable that is to the recipient. Your feed of jobs is a unique resource, as you are working very hard to make sure every job board and social channel is getting that feed and publishing it everywhere. Asking someone for their email address and using widely available information as bait isn’t going to get you where you want to go.

You need to deliver content worth opening and reading. This means content they can’t get from a million other places on the web.

The nice part is that this content likely already exists within your ecosystem. Your recruiters email stories about people who were successful to prospects all the time. Collect them. Your internal newsletters talk about client success stories and the great people who work there. Grab them. Your social channels have people talking about you. Scrape them. This is your raw material to develop your lead-nurturing email efforts.

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Don’t think you need to send a newsletter every week. In fact, try to avoid a strict cadence. Your goal is to send a message only when you have something worth sending and reading. It can be content that exists in parallel with your job alerts, but the content is the compelling reason to apply.

Remember that email is the easiest platform on which your readers can share. For most people, you just click Forward and start typing a name and that’s all.

Best case scenario, you are delivering content so useful to leads, that they stay subscribed even after their job hunt is finished, giving you the edge in the next round of job searching. You will have built up so much goodwill, their jobs will be the first ones they search for.

Making these changes to your email marketing will have a clear and lasting impact on the quality and quantity of people subscribing to your talent pool.

It may be premature to think we can develop true talent communities wherein leads talk to and support each other under our brand’s umbrella in such a way as all parties get some sort of value out of it. In the meantime, we can use the tools already under our content (and already paid for) to expand your audience and pool of people who want to work for you. This strategy should lower turnaround time and CPAs because you already have warm leads who want to apply, instead of having to convince people who don’t have that same positive feeling about your employer brand.

So go dust off that email program and give it new life. Your recruiters, hiring managers, and leads will thank you.