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Building a Proactive Recruiting Strategy from Scratch

67% of employed American adults would change their mind about a job based on their candidate experience.

For employers, building a proactive recruiting strategy is key to controlling and improving that candidate experience, precisely because they know how much impact it can have on the business.

The candidate experience wake-up call

A subpar candidate experience is not the only reason more and more TA teams are investing time and resources to shift to a proactive model, but it’s certainly the most visible to anyone outside the talent team.

It becomes visible to for candidates, customers, or to other functions in the company in three different shapes:

A Very Awkward Outbound

For a candidate, receiving a mass-InMail from a recruiter about a role that has little to no connection to the candidate’s profile is not acceptable anymore. Neither are recruiters competing with their own recruiting agencies, or lack of follow ups on conversations, or missed appointments for a first call.

The best talent teams out there are pulling all the stops: personalized outreach, relationship building and nurturing, defined and well-communicated employer brand… Spray-and-pray cannot compete with that. Talent teams need to present a structured and intentional outreach to the world.

Inconsistent Quality

With a one-sided sharing of job postings and mass emailing to low-quality databases comes inconsistency in hiring results. Recruiters throw a net out there every time there is an open role, and do not really know what they will catch. Will the applicants that respond be good fits for the role? Will they be top performers? Will the team even receive enough applicants to fill the role? Or will they instead be inundated with too many candidates to sift through?

Not to mention, top quality talent expects top-quality hiring processes, and if the experience you offer is inconsistent, the best ones will look elsewhere. Every time a candidate goes through a repetitive application process, or doesn’t receive a timely reply to an email, they dock your company in their internal employer ranking preferences. And you need many more positive experiences to pull it back up.

Undermined Credibility

Undermined credibility is probably the worst impact of poor candidate experience on a company. Not only can it push a candidate to drop you for a specific opening, it will stay with them for future opportunities, and they will probably share their negative opinion around them. Candidates, like customers, are more likely to share negative experiences than positive ones.

The loss of credibility is internal as well- consistently dropping the ball on candidate quality, not being able to provide visibility on future hiring, and falling short of hiring targets hurts the talent team’s relationship with the business.

Sometimes the talent market is just too competitive, or the right people are not available through no fault of the TA team, but hiring managers are less likely to trust their recruiters if they have seen too many instances of poor experience and inconsistent results.

The candidate experience myths

So how does this happen? How do hard-working recruiting teams find themselves in such a position? Very easily, it turns out.

There are a number of myths that still plague the recruiting industry and that make it harder to change day-to-day behaviors in recruiting teams.

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The resume black hole is a big one. “Thank you for your resume! We will reach out if we have another open role that would be a good fit.” But do you? Can you actually find that candidate again in your data? Can you identify who applied to what, and when?

“Plenty of fish in the sea” doesn’t even apply to the fish themselves sometimes, let alone high-quality candidates in competitive industries. Yet recruiters and hiring managers feel like they can afford to lose a candidate or two to bad candidate experience, and so the day-to-day urgency to fix the leaky holes goes away.

Lack of accountability is also a big blocker to improvement, as teams don’t necessarily believe that candidate experience should be a workstream in itself, or should be owned by specific team members who can be held accountable.

Another one is the acquisition and implementation of automation tools without putting in the work to properly optimize them for the team. No two organizations use their tools the same way, nor should they. It’s worth surveying the team on how they use their tools, how much time is actually repurposed towards high-value tasks, like creating thoughtful content to share with candidates, or improving the candidate experience.

The last one is sneaky, as it masquerades as a positive behavior. Teams are constantly looking at their efficiency: how many candidates per month? How much budget per hiring cycle? But efficiency can come in the way of overall output, especially when the output is a great candidate experience. What does it matter if the team can process 100 candidates per week if not a single one of them enjoyed their interactions with the team?

Fixing it requires true proactivity

So how do talent teams fix their candidate experience? It all comes down to being able to plan in advance, and to build a relationship with candidates and a brand in the market. And for that, teams need to shift to a proactive recruiting mindset.

Proactive recruitment means building talent pipelines, and identifying great candidates well in advance of job openings going live. It means nurturing candidates over months or years before the stars align and you can invite them to apply to a job for which they are a perfect fit. For truly proactive recruiting, teams need a usable and up-to-date candidate pipeline, and the mechanisms to communicate with it at scale.

The right tools are necessary for this to happen, of course. Recruiting automation, employer branding, CRM, recruitment marketing… there are many solutions out there to help companies cross the chasm towards proactive recruiting. However, they need to all live in one central place, one talent operating system, so to speak, where all the candidate data lives and it’s possible to have a holistic view of the candidate experience from start to finish.

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Recruiting excellence is not born from identifying best practice, it’s but built upon operationalizing best practice. In other words, it comes from identifying good behaviors and enabling teams to easily repeat them over and over again. That is why one of the markers of a mature talent organization are its processes and operations. A well-functioning team, with well-defined workflows and the right infrastructure in place to support them, can consistently deliver a high-quality candidate experience.

What now?

A Talent Lifecycle Management platform is only the enabler of a good proactive recruiting strategy. The shift starts with talent leaders recognizing where their candidate experience is lacking, and investing the time to come up with new processes to do better.

Proactive recruitment is here to stay. Talent teams will have to adopt it in order to compete, the sooner the better. The good news is, as long as the team is willing to redesign its strategy, the right infrastructure is available. There are dozens of recruiting tools out there that can help you deliver an outstanding candidate experience, it’s only a matter of designing teh right solution for your business.