Recruitment Marketing: Understanding and Maximizing the Candidate Journey

Technology plays a big role in the process of talent recruitment for today’s recruiters. Forward-thinking HR pros understand that success with talent acquisition today is all about understanding and maximizing the candidate journey. This requires a focus on developing marketing and recruiting strategies that are attuned to the “recruiting funnel,” as well as a focus on creating an optimal candidate experience along the way.

Recruitment as Lead Generation

One thing the smartest recruiters have in common is that they treat their workflow as a business development team would treat lead generation. Having a pipeline (and a process) fueled with enough candidates at the top, a good screening process in the middle, and which provides them with the opportunity to move the most talented applicants quickly to the bottom of the funnel, is what makes or breaks a good recruiter.

And just like lead generation for business purposes, recruiters must understand that potential employees are going through their own journey as they become aware of, learn more about, and potentially become interested in opportunities with your company. HR pros who can create great, customized experiences for candidates as they experience that journey are well-positioned for success.

The Candidate Journey Begins: The Recruiting Funnel

Let’s talk about the recruiting funnel. The top of the funnel is all about corporate culture. At this stage of the journey, potential job applicants are looking to see what kind of company you are, what kind of corporate culture exists within the organization, and what others think about your company. At this stage of the funnel, they’ll be deciding very quickly whether you’re worth looking into further.

And, as a recent CareerBuilder study suggests, they’ll be looking to assess themselves, and the market to see what the next best fit is.

Here are some important things to focus on specific to this stage:

Fine-tune your website messaging. When it comes to leveraging the power of your website, which is often the very first stop for a prospective candidate, think about the story you tell about your company and how compelling you make the case for a prospective candidate to want to join your team.

The power of a blog. Your corporate blog can augment the story that you tell on your website, and can allow a candidate to see the kind of work your team and your company does, as well as the kind of things you do for and with your community. The blog is as much of a place to tell your story and share your culture as your website is, so keep that in mind as a part of the candidate journey you are creating.

The role of social media. Today’s job seekers are well aware of the power of the Internet. Naturally, they look at your website and your corporate blog and the messaging there, including the story you tell about your company, but they don’t stop there. They check out your presence in the social media space, they search for reviews from previous employees, and they know how to monitor and listen to see what current employees are saying. They also ask their connections in the social media space what they know about your company and what kind of culture and opportunities exist.

Details, Details, Details

Once a potential candidate perceives a potential fit between themselves and your company, they’ll be looking for details. In this stage of the candidate journey, they are likely to be digging a bit deeper. They may have already looked at a review of your company, but now they are examining a variety of review sources to get a sense of what the day-to-day experience is like (micromanagement vs. flexible workflow, etc).

As they move deeper into the recruiting funnel, candidates will be looking to understand exactly what they would do if hired by your company. Clarity on job description, salary, etc., are part of this stage in the journey. You’ll want to make sure to do things like:

Ask current star employees to provide reviews on Glassdoor and other sites. Ask them to be honest, and to share what motivates them to work at your company. This goes a long way toward telling the story of your organization’s culture.

The power of video. The utilization of video as a recruiting strategy is becoming more prevalent. Consider tapping some key members of your team and creating video vignettes to feature on your website about what it’s like to work for your company and the opportunities they’ve experienced as a result. You can also use these videos on your corporate YouTube channel, and even share them regularly in social media channels. A little bit of rich media content can have a big impact.

Provide specific examples of work that matches to the job description. In the utility stage, job applicants are looking to see if what you’ve said about your company matches the actual work they’ll do.

Social media channels. As candidates get deeper into the candidate journey, they begin to think about the opportunities a particular position might provide, as well as other team members they might be working with. Social media can play a big role here, as candidates turn to LinkedIn to dig deeper into profiles of potential co-workers and the kind of work experiences showcased on their profiles, and/or check them out in other social media channels. Savvy recruiters know this, and work internally to help fine-tune social media profiles and ensure that the team collectively has their best foot forward with regard to their online presence.

The Decision

Once they’ve applied and interviewed, a candidate is in the consideration phase, which is the final phase of their journey. This means they’re considering all of the information they’ve gathered, as well as what you’ve provided so far. The most critical aspect of this stage is to make sure that every question (even the ones they don’t ask out loud) is answered.

At this stage, your most important tool is simply to stay in touch. Be present in their world, follow up with information that’s actually useful to them, and provide resources to help make their decision an easy one.

Here are a few ways to close the deal:

Learn two to three things about their values, and connect over those. It can be as simple as remembering a mention during an interview about a topic that was of interest to a candidate, and emailing a quick note including a relevant article. If it’s a candidate considering relocation, send along information about goings-on in a community that might be appealing to them.

Ask for clarity about your candidate’s bottom line. Is there a salary number they feel they need to hit? Does being able to occasionally work remotely matter to them? It can be tempting to avoid these conversations, and finding out the answers doesn’t obligate you to reach them, but opening up the conversation can help move things along.

Welcome negotiation. Even if the salary for a job is set, there are always other things that can be negotiated. Negotiating the ability to work remotely one day a week, or adding flexible work hours to the equation, might be things the candidate really values and which can help close the deal.

Today’s HR professionals are embracing the nuances of the candidate journey, and developing strategies that touch candidates in different ways at different points in that journey, based on where they are in the recruiting funnel. As you’re developing your strategies, keep that funnel in mind, think about your messaging and your internal processes, and how you are not only filling your recruiting funnel, but how you are nurturing those candidates and moving them along. The goal is always attracting, hiring, and retaining the best and the brightest—understanding that candidate journey is how you’ll make that happen.

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