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The Key to a Successful Recruiting Strategy

At Beamery, we believe that communication is critical to every recruiting strategy. Your company’s ‘job’ is to convince top talent that they should spend their professional lives working for you.

The way you communicate your employer brand and jobs becomes one of the most important weapons in beating out the competition and bringing the best candidates onboard. Effective communication becomes the bedrock on which a successful recruiting strategy is built.

But communication is not just about optimizing your recruiting strategy – the only real impression that a candidate has of your culture is the one you show them through the candidate experience and by how you speak to them.

Recruiters are on the frontline of your brand – they have enormous power when it comes to building (or destroying) a candidate’s perception of your company.

Every time you contact a candidate, you have a chance to build a relationship and advance the conversation. This article guides you through the process of crafting an effective recruiting strategy, and covers the kinds of emails that your recruiting team should send, as well as how to nurture and engage candidates that aren’t ready to apply yet.

1. Sourcing

The tough part of sourcing used to be the search itself. Once you found a candidate, they were generally amenable to hearing what you had to say. Now, the search is still hard, but the ever-expanding social web gives the average sourcer plenty of shortcuts when it comes to tracking down candidates with relevant skills.

Today’s candidates are also more socially aware. Most people understand the need to maintain a professional presence online, which makes it relatively easy for recruiters to tap into online communities and locate qualified talent.

Throw in a flock of extensions and plugins to help you find candidate data and contact information, and you’re all set. You might not be able to find every possible candidate for a role, but you’ll likely be able to find enough quality candidates to make sure you make a great hire.

The real difficulty now often comes with engaging the candidate. Just getting someone to open, read and reply to your message is quickly becoming an art form.

Nowadays, candidates are less likely to reply to your message than ever before. If you think about it, this isn’t too surprising. The modern world is all about attention. Social giants like Facebook and Instagram, advertisers, friends, family and recruiters are all competing for attention.

Getting emails from people outside of your list of contacts used to be a novelty, now candidates are simply drowning in them.

For sourcers who are tasked with making the first contact with new candidates, the ability to engage passive talent effectively and get responses is crucial. Sourcing is no longer just about the search, it’s about engagement.

The anatomy of the perfect sourcing message

There’s no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ message for prospects that your team is sourcing – every candidate responds best to messages that have been written specifically for them.

If you’re interested in consistently connecting with top candidates though, there are a few rules to follow. These tricks will enable your team to create a recruiting strategy that gets prospects to open, click and reply.

Subject lines

When you sit down at your desk every morning and sift through your unread emails and LinkedIn messages, how do you decide which ones to open and which ones to delete?

The subject line. The words you use here can have an enormous effect on open rates, in fact, as many as 35% of recipients open messages based on the subject line alone.

The question is: how do you optimize your subject line to encourage candidates to ‘click’ and read? Here are a couple of best practices that can make a big difference:

  • Personalization: Adding a personal touch to your subject line can make a big difference. For example, including personalization in your subject line can help your messages perform 15% better than those that are generic or sent in bulk.
  • Shared connections: Use LinkedIn’s ‘How You’re Connected’ feature to see if you have any shared connections with a candidate.

It can be tough to get top talent to open and engage with your messages, so there’s always a temptation to try to ‘trick’ people. Subject lines that suggest to candidates that you’ve already spoken or use ‘re:’ to imply that your message is part of a pre-existing email chain might get a few opens or clicks, but they damage your brand and often ensure that candidates will never apply for a role at your company. Resist the temptation!

Personalized email content

We’ve all become experts at ignoring messages that aren’t specifically for us. We rarely engage with marketing messages – filtering out anything that feels generic or automated. Mass recruiting emails have the same effect. If candidates see that the message wasn’t written specifically for them, they give it less importance.

Make sure that you always address candidates by name and try to customize the message content to show that you’ve looked at their LinkedIn profile and reviewed their past experience.

Pro tip: Formatting matters Stay away from branding and polished screenshots, messages that are simple and direct help recruiters establish a ‘human-human’ connection with candidates and are far more effective at generating positive replies.

CTA & Signoff

Every email you send needs to have a clear next action. The way you sign off each message is crucial. You need to give candidates a simple next step.

You’re surely sending your message for a specific reason – usually to draw attention to a job or opportunity, so make sure the candidate knows that. Possible next steps could involve:

  • A simple ‘reply’
  • A follow up call
  • An in-person meeting
  • A formal interview

Being vague won’t help you convince a great candidate to come in for an interview, so be sure to give your candidates clear directions.

Following up

The majority of your emails are destined to never get a response. You shouldn’t take this personally – people are busy and your message is unlikely to be number one on their priority list.

The recruiters that are likely to have the most success are the ones that understand the power of the follow up. It’s the part of the race when most other people stop running, and you’re the only one left.

And just like in sales, the follow up is often the key to successfully messaging candidates on LinkedIn.

Despite this, the follow up message often gets ignored when recruiting teams are building their strategy. There are three key reasons for this:

  • No one has time. Recruiters tend to be pretty busy and while most understand that following up is important, it often slips through the cracks.
  • No one wants to appear pushy. It’s easy to tell yourself if the person really wants your job, they will take the initiative to reply themselves. If you fall into this mindset, you may feel ‘pushy’ by following up.
  • No one likes getting rejected. If your attempts at following up are unsuccessful, it’s not uncommon to suffer feelings of rejection. Studies show that rejection affects the human brain in the same way as physical pain, which is understandably something recruiters would want to avoid!

There are a number of legitimate reasons why a candidate hasn’t replied to your message. For starters, they’re busy. Replying to your message probably isn’t their top priority, particularly if they already have a job. It’s also equally possible that they didn’t see your first message. Top candidates have a pretty full inbox, so your message may have gone unnoticed.

Why follow-up emails work

Most people assume that the reason they get a response on the second or third email is because they’ve written something more engaging. More often than not though, the real reason why people respond to your follow-up email is very simple: timing.

Your original email probably came through at the wrong time. Your target candidate was too busy or distracted to take action and reply the first time around. Remember, silence does not necessarily mean no!

Your follow up email got a reply because it came through when the candidate had time to consciously process and respond to it. Now, if it’s that simple, you might ask why you even need to send a follow up email. Shouldn’t the candidate just go back to your first message when they’ve got a little more mental bandwidth available?

Sadly, this is not the case. Emails have an incredibly short lifespan. 90% of emails that receive replies are replied to one day after they are opened. This makes your follow up incredibly important. The moment you send your email, the clock starts ticking. And after 24 hours you know it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll get a reply.

With that said, never stop following up. If you’ve already had some kind of interaction with the candidate (and that interaction was not a clear NO), then follow up as long as it takes to get a response. However, if your first message was completely cold and you have never had any interaction with the candidate, follow up once or twice – you really don’t have a relationship that gives you permission to contact them more often than that.

2. Candidate nurture

“Top talent is searching for a company the same way they would any other purchasing decision” – Matt Charney, Recruiting Daily

Many of the candidates that you speak to won’t be ready to make a move. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore them though. We live in a fast paced, ‘job-hopping’ society – 50% of today’s workers are looking to leave their jobs in the next 12 months.

By nurturing these candidates with timely messages and content, you can keep them engaged and keep the relationship moving on the right track. It takes an average of seven brand touchpoints to influence a decision, so this is a long term investment. The key to successful candidate nurture is understanding how to engage candidates in a time efficient way, (without overloading them with messages, being irritating or spammy). It can be a delicate balance to strike.

The ‘candidate lifecycle’ is the process candidates go through to become aware of, evaluate, and apply to a new job. To be successful, you need to treat people in each stage differently (e.g. candidates that are just becoming aware of your brand should be nurtured in a totally different way than applicants).

Instead of just blasting out the same email to your whole candidate database, think carefully about the stage that different candidates are at and try to segment your recruiting strategy accordingly.

Not only will this provide a better candidate experience, but your positive response rate will most likely be considerably higher. Here are a few examples of the types of content to send to nurture candidates effectively, as well as where it fits into the candidate journey:

Invite candidates to join your Talent Network

Not every candidate that comes to your website is ready to apply right away. This is where talent networks come in. They offer passive candidates the chance to sign up to receive job updates and company news – in other words, people sign up to be ‘nurtured’.

Talent networks should be used to capture leads on your website. They can be an effective tool to get candidates to opt-in to marketing communication from your Talent Acquisition team.

Most of the active candidates that join your talent community will do so through your website so you probably don’t need to invite them yourself. You should invite unsuccessful applicants and high quality passive candidates that aren’t actively looking for new roles to your talent network – it’s a great way to keep them engaged and to expose them to your employer brand.

Invite candidates to events

Events can work particularly well if your goal is to attract niche talent or meet diversity targets – for example, many technology companies host events to attract and engage with female engineers.

Events are a great way to build brand awareness and generate new leads for your hiring team, but they’re also a useful tactic to nurture candidates that are further on their journey through the candidate lifecycle. Anyone attending gets to interact with your team on a less formal basis – they can ask questions, raise ideas and get to know your team. “Human-human” interactions like this are very effective at accelerating a candidate’s decision on whether to apply or accept an offer.

Whenever you host or attend an event, you should have a particular goal in mind. For example, you could be looking to connect with graduates from top universities.

Once you’ve narrowed down the candidate persona that you want to connect with, reach out to similar candidates that already exist in your database. If we use the same example, it would be worth reaching out to students or recent graduates that you have spoken to before.

If you’re running an event that focuses on a particular job function, (sales and engineering tend to be the most popular here), contact leads or former applicants that fit the bill.

Send candidates relevant jobs

Sending candidates information on new opportunities as they open up is an important part of any good nurture strategy.

It’s critical that the opportunities that you send are highly relevant, (e.g. only send sales opportunities to candidates that you know are interested in sales roles). Also, be very careful about how often you are sending these ‘job blasts’.

It’s okay to message passive candidates about relevant opportunities as long as you don’t do it too often – they’re at a stage of the candidate lifecycle where marketing and branding content tends to be more effective.

You should send a higher volume of job related emails to candidates that you know are interested and are actively applying to roles – this might include people that have specifically requested job alerts and previous applicants that you want to re-engage for different roles.

Send Marketing and Branding content

By consistently sending candidates information about your company in general, your culture and your employer brand, your goal is to move them through the candidate lifecycle towards a future application.

Again, it’s important that this effort is targeted. If you want to share the news that your sales team has had a monster quarter, make sure that you’re only sharing it with sales candidates.

Focus on sending marketing and branding content to everyone in your database that isn’t a current applicant. The best format for this tends to be a monthly newsletter, and content that performs well here includes major company news (e.g. funding announcements if you’re a startup) and employee generated content like testimonials or videos.

Send Surveys

Candidate experience is a top priority for a growing number of companies, but few have a good way to measure it accurately. Using well-timed surveys to capture candidate feedback during your hiring process can give you real-time data on what candidates really think about your company.

Not only are surveys a great way to measure Employer Branding ROI, they’re also a great nurture touchpoint. They show candidates that you care about their opinion, and give you an opportunity to touch base with candidates that have dropped out of your hiring process (and maybe gain some insight as to why).

Surveys don’t have to be overly complex – just collecting a simple rating from candidates can be hugely effective, and help you build out things like NPS scoring down the road.

You should send surveys to candidates at all stages of your hiring process if you want a clear picture of the kind of candidate experience that you’re providing.

As a nurture touchpoint, they’re best used to re-engage unsuccessful applicants. If these candidates speak positively of your company, consider inviting them to apply for other roles that they might be a good fit for.

3. Re-engagement

When your team is tasked with filling a new role, the first instinct for most recruiters is to create a job ad or start combing through LinkedIn profiles. This is the status quo for a reason. It gets results.

The best talent teams are supplementing these outbound methods of candidate acquisition. They’re making use of pre-existing relationships to fill roles in a faster and more cost effective manner.

The ATS goldmine

Your ATS data might be static, but the people who are stored there certainly aren’t. The candidates that you have rejected in the past are often great fits for roles that you’re currently struggling to fill. Candidates are passed over for a multitude of different reasons ranging from timing, to experience, to competition and there are likely to be hundreds of rejected candidates that would make fantastic employees just sitting there.

You’ve already invested significant resources to attract these candidates and speak to them in the past – why let that go to waste? Most ATS systems are more focused on application processing than sourcing and candidate management though, so if you’re looking to re-engage candidates effectively you need a CRM that enables you to identify and re-engage the talent that’s most relevant to your current openings.

Re-engagement: the quick wins

Successful candidate re-engagement can provide crystal clear ROI – it’s part of every fine tuned recruiting strategy and can make a big difference to the bottom line (which your CEO will thank you for).

Reduced cost per hire

Typically whenever you have a new role to fill, you’re immediately on the back foot. You’re forced to be reactive – you spend money on job boards, ads, and agencies.

You may not fill the role from recycled ATS contacts, but by treating past applicants as a large group of leads available to your recruiters at all times, you’ll have a great (free) resource to look at before you turn to paid channels.

You may still need to look externally, but by mining your ATS for gold and creating talent pools you might just be able to fill the role for free in a matter of days.

Reduce time to hire

The beauty of recycling ATS data and using talent pools is that you have relevant candidates that your team is already engaging with whenever you have a new role to fill. This means that the time-consuming work of screening, selecting and pre-qualifying candidates is done on a rolling basis.

You can then move quickly to fill open roles with the right candidates, reducing the strain on your team. Of course, a shorter time to hire also impacts your bottom line. There’s less lost productivity from vacant roles and you’re saving a good deal of recruiter time.

Re-engagement: Creating a successful recruiting strategy

Generic email blasts to your database about new jobs are not an effective way to re-engage candidates. Bear in mind that many people you have sitting in your ATS haven’t been contacted for years. Would you respond to a job blast that comes totally out of the blue? Successful re-engagement relies on taking a more strategic approach. Here are some of the best reasons to reach out to candidates:

Application drop-off

No matter how stellar your candidate experience, some application drop-off is inevitable. People get tired of filling out forms, lose interest at the early stages, they miss assessments, or they feel your application is too long. Drop-off isn’t an indication of candidate quality – there’s lots of great talent that simply ‘falls out’ of your application process.

You can re-engage these candidates in a few different ways. The first is very simple – sending people who abandon your application process ‘reminders’ to go back and finish is hugely effective at widening your funnel and improving conversion.

Alternatively, send job updates to these candidates when you’re trying to fill similar roles, or even just get one of your team members to reach out to them directly.

Location

Use location as a key parameter in your re-engagement campaigns. Candidates are often more likely to be interested in roles that are close to where they live (especially if the role involves being in the office full time).

For retail companies, location is a huge factor in re-engagement. Many people that you turn down might be prepared to apply to a similar role nearby, so if you redirect these candidates effectively then you’ll be able to give your team more talent to review without spending extra money on advertising.

Similarly, whenever you have a new store opening, you can (for example) reach out to all past applicants that live in the area to generate immediate interest.

In-demand skills

Re-engagement is a great tactic whenever you’re faced with a role that requires a specific skills set.

Foreign language fluency is a great example here. You may need Italian speakers for your customer service team. Instead of trying to locate Italian speakers through LinkedIn (which is tough if you’re not in Italy), search for candidates in your database that have this skill and re-engage them.

 

We firmly believe in the power of effective communication when it comes to creating a successful recruiting strategy. Not only can smart engagement help your team when it comes to building relationships with candidates and hitting hiring KPIs, but it also ensures that every interaction a candidate has with your company is positive.

Rolling out an effective recruiting strategy is not something that happens overnight. There are often multiple stakeholders involved and your messaging will require some careful planning. All that said, this is the first step to making candidate engagement a priority.

Learn more about how Beamery can help you improve your candidate experience to win top talent.