“Attracting candidates in an age of social distancing. What are the answers?”
As a recruiter, your candidates are your product. That may be a simplification of your role, but it’s a decent starting point. Your number one priority as a new recruitment enterprise is therefore to fill your recruitment database with high quality candidates. But how do recruitment agencies attract good candidates? Let’s take a look.
Attracting candidates is part science, part art. Over time, you will learn what works and what doesn’t for your own specific talent niche. This is the “art” bit. The science is building effective workflows early on which improve your chances of attracting candidates and making placements. There may be an element of trial and error at this stage – but nobody said recruitment would be an easy ride, did they?
When you’re setting up in recruitment, there are a few steps you can complete to improve your chances of attracting talent.
Create a candidate persona
First things first: build a candidate persona.
It might feel like an exercise in empty marketing at this early stage. But a candidate persona will save time and help you to understand your business objectives better in the long run.
In recruiting, the candidate persona is a fictional profile of the perfect candidate. Now, you can make these as specific as you like for individual positions. But right now, we want a more generalised persona. One that represents the full spectrum of applicants that we would love to have on our database.
When building the candidate persona, think about professional attributes such as: skills, qualifications, educational background, and experience. Are they an active or passive candidate? What is their expected salary?
But also think about more general areas of a profile too. Attributes that will help you to make faster placements: where do they live, what are their interests, how well developed are their soft skills and teamworking abilities? Where did you first establish contact?
All of these points of data will help you to find suitable candidates more easily once they are on your database. More importantly for this stage, the persona will help you to find your ideal applicants with better targeting. Because, when you know exactly what you’re looking for in a future employee, you can tailor your recruiting strategies toward attracting the right people.
Utilise social media for recruiting
This leads us onto your search options. Today, an efficient recruitment strategy will source candidates via multiple streams. Walk-in applications remain a big part of this, but only if your agency has a bricks and mortar office in a town centre. And, in this pandemic age, it is a shrinking flow of talent.
Social media talent searches can be active or passive. Passive means listing your vacancies in posts and allowing applicants to approach you. Software tools like Hootsuite and Paiger can be used to automate and schedule your posts, so you don’t have to stay tied to your device all day long.
Active talent searches are more likely to take place on Linkedin. This is when you deliberately search for suitable candidates. Unless you are working within an incredibly specialised niche, this type of active social engagement is perhaps more effective for individual roles, rather than when attempting to populate your database for the first time.
Social media recruiting can be effective – but it also has its limitations. Attracting candidates through social media alone may not be the best way to attract candidates with specific skill sets. It can also open the door to automated responses and bot accounts – and this generates more administrative tasks, rather than less.
Lastly, you want to build an efficient candidate experience which lowers dropout rates. It’s great to attract hundreds of applicants. Even better if the majority of them are highly skilled and motivated, active candidates. But it will mean disaster for your enterprise if their first engagement with your company is long-winded or unnecessarily complex.
Think also about how you monitor your candidates’ journeys. Do you use an out-of-the-box tracker? It may not be fit for purpose if your area of recruitment is highly specialised. A customisable applicant tracking system may suit your activities better, and give your candidate e3xperience a boost, too. Embrace recruitment automation to create a streamlined candidate experience. Simplify processes and paperwork to ensure you are as accessible as it is possible to be. Remember: in our digital age, there is almost always a suitable recruitment software product for every task.
What is the secret to simplification? You live the user experience (UX). Take a walk through your processes as a candidate might. If they found you on a social network, does the link you posted then take them to the correct page on your website? When they are faced with a form to fill in, does each type of entry box make it clear what data is required? When you ask for a resumé, can they drag and drop their document onto your website and let your automated CV parsing software do the rest? Or do they have to sit there for another 30 minutes and type everything out again?
When you walk the journey of your candidates, it often becomes incredibly obvious where the biggest drop-out points are. But don’t get disheartened. No service is flawless. But you can approach something close to perfection by making small improvements over time.
Other brand improvements
With these early steps taken care of, you can start to look at other areas of your company branding to help you on your way. Do you have prominence in your sector? As a startup, this is unlikely. Assuming you have little experience in the recruiting game, you probably do not have much of a professional network to hit up, either. (Of course, if you do have a wide network on, for example, Linkedin, then you should definitely put it to work for you.)
Getting the word out can be a laborious task, but there are facilities to assist you. In the internet age, a simple link in your email footer to a comparison or review website can pay off. That first handful of 5-star reviews – and the caché of social proof that comes with it – can be invaluable.
Set up a referral program
Once you have a winning candidate experience in place, you can start to capitalise on it. A referral programme is perhaps one of the best ways to make your candidate experience pay dividends in terms of company growth. For each happy applicant, offer an incentive for introducing other quality candidates to your recruitment agency. Define the level of required engagement – from retweeting a job advert to sending written recommendations – and set your rewards and expectations accordingly.