What do you care about? What do you want to talk about? And why?
These three simple questions form the foundation of the approach that high-performing HR organizations use when it comes to their talent acquisition efforts. They try to see the candidate experience from the candidate's perspective, giving the talent acquisition process the feel of a boutique executive-search agency, in which sought-after professionals are treated like highly valued assets. And they should be – people are an organization's most valuable assets.
Mastering the candidate experience in talent acquisition is all about connecting, reaching out, listening, interacting and learning about the talents and skills that are out there in the world, and then applying what you've learned in your search for potential new rock stars. And this continuous information exchange with professionals (your potential candidates) is becoming mandatory in the increasingly competitive talent marketplace.
The overall practice of nurturing candidates within a pipeline to eventual hire is an approach we affectionately call candidate relationship management. This approach produces a pipeline of candidates who are highly engaged with the company's brand and culture, ready to discuss any job opening that fits their skill and experience.
Candidate relationship management is a people-centric cycle
Candidate relationship management is extremely similar to a building and executing on a sales pipeline. In order to leverage candidate relationship management effectively, recruiters need to know where to look for candidates, what to look for, how to close (or hire) them, how to keep track of their results and how to interpret those results to fine-tune the candidate experience. It's all about putting the candidate at the center of every step of the journey. Here's what you need to know.
Listen and make acquaintances
Where are you meeting people and learning about their skills and talents? Where does this information come from?
Is it from candidate visits to your career sites (that would be good), or is it (more realistically) from your organization's network of social and professional profiles, online job boards, external searches, or even simple word-of-mouth?
Find out where the talent most appropriate for your organization is spending time, both in the flesh and online, so you know where to keep your "ear to the ground." Set up your organization's applicant tracking system and recruiters so that they can always be listening in the places where the best talent is, and can start to make acquaintances.
First impressions count for a lot, so tailor your recruiter's and your organization's introduction appropriately. This means well-crafted messaging that articulates why a candidate should be interested – make it obvious what's in it for them! But don't get too far ahead of yourself – we're strictly at an awareness stage in the candidate relationship management cycle here.
Determine criteria, filter, search and categorize
While listening in these identified locations, you obviously don't want to collect everything on every possible candidate. And, on the flip side, most candidates don't want to be recruited for unrealistic or irrelevant roles.
Remember, Big Data is very big. So that you don't have to search an ocean of results, employ intelligent filtering powered by automation and artificial intelligence, which can equip your hiring team with relevant results with which to assess skills and talent.
Leverage the intelligence out there to harness automated network discoveries and further filter those into relevance. Once you have a list of candidates that are well-qualified for the role, try and categorize them further. The more layers of detail you can segment, the closer you can hone in on what will end up being a list of candidates that are not only great fits for the role, but are potentially even more likely to say "yes."
Recruit and hire
This is "the close" in recruiting like a marketer. You've completed an important transaction and you want to be able to overcome 11th-hour challenges, like making them wait in radio silence which can lead to feelings of being snubbed, devastating counter-offers or twists of fate.
Ongoing dialogue, reference checking, pre-employment documentation, and onboarding should be seamless and easy and efficient for the hiring team and for the candidate.
Measure your results
Everything's being monitored and measured these days, so you might as well have access to the metrics that guide you on how to perform a function better.
Hiring teams and CHROs will want tools to measure talent source networks, monetary and resource investment, time to hire (TTH), and other important key performance metrics, and improve on those measures without manual exhaustion.
Fine-tune efforts and processes
Achieve the optimum balance of operating like a global HR organization yet delivering the optimum candidate experience at a local and personal level.
Calibrate against metrics and use automation to achieve efficiencies as your candidate relationship management begins to better inform decisions on talent and key metrics such as candidate behaviors, TTH, and right hire.
Identify and engage talent on-demand
On-demand talent acquisition means being able to efficiently and effectively search and find people who potentially could be available to your organization in the future.
When a new job opening or need comes up, you know the pre-assessed individuals in your talent pool are fit for roles. You can also search your external network and your internal candidate database in a single search, collecting results from all your pools, including recommended freelance talent for a possible full-time position.
Then you want to be able to filter the data again. For example, which previous short-listed, qualified candidate is interested in relocating to a different region?
Who has expertise in an industry and speaks languages that might help business growth? Who is in the sweet spot for a position now and has the mandatory skills and can be presented as a logical candidate?
And then... repeat.
The challenges to effective candidate relationship management are wide
It's a cyclical process and you don't want the potential business intelligence limited to your recruiter's email folders and siloed spreadsheets.
Candidate relationship management systems empower you to manage all aspects of the candidate lifecycle while personalizing and satisfying the candidate experience.
Where will they want to engage with you, how tech-savvy are they, are they passionate about certain topics, and what can you discuss that is about them and not you? How can you invite them into your own community, whether that's a career site, a freelancer marketplace, job site, or a job distribution network?
Don't be afraid to take small steps in relationship building as you grow your talent pipeline. Spamming candidates can drive many of the best of them away, so you want to listen and learn first, before helping them to develop their career path.
An overlapping patchwork of regional privacy laws that multinational organizations must comply with further complicates candidate grouping and personalized data storage and actions. And then there are your internal requirements, the strategic classifications that you, the organization, must compile, categorize and gain business intelligence and value from.
Dispense with the spreadsheets and desktop-based approach of segmenting candidates, and view your distributed candidates in a centralized multinational system built for regional and personalized requirements.
For more tools to fine-tune your organization's candidate experience cycle, download our free candidate experience management eBook which contains six different ways to improve your candidate experience. Get your copy today!