It’s common knowledge among high-volume recruiters that their biggest challenge is finding the right candidates. Radical shifts over the past two years have transformed the labor market, and candidates are now firmly in the driver’s seat of the hiring process. With millions of openings, job seekers are confidently seeking roles that better align with their own expectations, and are feeling empowered to ask more of their potential employers.
So what can companies do to improve their chances of attracting and hiring great-fit talent? The answer lies in candidate nurturing. It’s time to move away from linear, outdated hiring processes that work more like filters than conversion drivers, and to embrace modern, candidate-friendly practices that create a strong, positive image of employer brands – and draw candidates in droves.
Why Does Candidate Nurturing Work?
Let’s look at it this way. On average, 55% of job seekers believe that the time from the first round of an interview to a job offer should be less than two weeks. However, the average hiring process is 36 days long. See the disconnect? Here’s where we can bridge the gap with candidate nurturing.
The best candidate nurturing programs acknowledge the fact that not all job seekers are actively looking. We technically live in a culture of job-hopping right now. People regularly change jobs – even if they are not looking right now, they may be open if you approach them with an opportunity.
In fact, when they are not looking is (ironically) a great time to start nurturing your relationship, so when they get around to considering their options, you’re already in a great position. Here’s how you can nurture your candidates and walk with them as they make their way down that recruitment funnel to you.
Step 1: Planning the roadmap
As explained earlier, well-planned candidate nurture programs are key to fostering a great candidate experience, and facilitate the best interactions with your employer brand. While social media or career sites rely on prospects being at the right place at the right time to apply, nurture campaigns accelerate the process and offer you control over the time and place of interaction.
Great nurture programs involve a lot of personalization when targeting individual candidates. However, Hubspot estimates that email databases decay by 22.5% annually, which means that for nurture programs to be effective, you need up-to-date info. Start the planning process by cleaning your databases before launching any new campaigns.
This is where it helps to have a great recruitment marketing tool to help you organize all your information in a clean, clear manner, automatically update it every time it’s time to spring clean, and customize your data fields to capture the information you need as effectively as possible.
Step 2: Setting up the Nurture Building Blocks
With a clean, updated database in hand, you can get to work on the actual building blocks of your candidate nurture campaigns – personas, content, and timing.
Did you know that the chances of finding the right candidate via an unstructured interview process are about 20%? Candidate personas provide much-needed structure to your recruitment process and accelerate your time to hire, while simultaneously reducing cost.
To achieve the level of personalization necessary to build a successful candidate nurturing campaign, you need to start at the top – what are the candidate personas you’re targeting? Where do they hang out, and what format of content appeals most to them?
Detailed personas include information about candidates’ status in the recruiting process, career goals, the skills that they have/want to learn, or the content they engage with. These details should guide your campaign design, and the type of content that your ideal candidates will find relevant and insightful.
For example, you could help them learn about the company through a short bio and website links in an email, or share its culture through social media, and upload videos of how to prep for interviews to help them understand what to expect.
The idea is to anticipate what type of content would be most useful for your candidates at each stage of their journey to being hired, and to share it with them through ultra-personalized interactions aimed at retaining their interest.
There are numerous types, formats, and topics to choose from for your nurture emails – it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. Here are a few ideas to get you going:
- “Best employer” or “Best workplace” rankings and awards
- Company news, including environmental or social initiatives
- Relevant reports or ebooks published by your company
- An explanatory video about your hiring process by a company recruiter or hiring manager
- Links to social pages that offer good insight into your company culture
When choosing what to send, remember to consider where the candidate is in the hiring process.
There is no universal email frequency that magically works for all nurture campaigns. Let’s try to understand this with an example. For sales teams’ lead nurture campaigns, Salesforce recommends a wide range of six to forty-five days between emails, depending on the length of the sales cycle.
The recruiting equivalent of this would be the time that it takes for a candidate to go from considering moving jobs to actually signing an offer letter. For a senior executive, this might go up to a year, but for a graduate candidate/entry level professional, it could be much shorter.
Step 3: Measuring and improving
Once you’ve built your candidate pools and set up your nurture campaigns, you can start measuring and analyzing. Monitor conversion rates right down your pipeline going all the way to your different drips. Test different content types and sending times to see what yields better results.
Surveys are also a useful tool to measure candidate experience, and your candidates’ attitude toward your brand. Try to send surveys right after a key stage in the journey, such as after submitting an application, to increase your chances of getting a response.
Top candidates are now spoiled for choice when considering switching jobs. In such a competitive market, every part of the recruiting experience matters. Today’s recruiters also know that attracting top talent is neither a quick nor easy task. It has become more about proactive relationship building than about job descriptions and advertisements.
More importantly, a majority of the top talent in the market consists of passive candidates, meaning that they are not on the hunt for jobs. In other words, if recruiters want to access a large pool of relevant candidates, there is a need to focus on building and nurturing relationships that keep them interested.
Of course, that’s easier said than done – it takes time and effort. On the bright side, with the right tools and intelligent automation, nurturing campaigns can become a whole lot easier, not to mention effective.
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