Candidate Marketing 101

automation in staffing

Candidate Marketing is a holistic strategy to continually engage with your candidate base to ensure that when it is time for them to find a new position, you are the first thing that comes to their mind.

You likely have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people in your ATS and likely only a small portion of them have ever been spoken too and an even smaller portion of them have been placed.

You spend a lot of money with job boards to get these candidates, they are an important asset to your business and they are often neglected. It would be hard to imagine that there weren’t job openings that these people could have been a good fit for, they just didn’t apply at the right time or weren’t identified by a recruiter.

This issue of good candidates not getting attention is compounded by the speed of job openings in the VMS era. Bullhorn recently conducted review of job board applicants to an IT staffing firm and found the following distribution of applicants:

  • Days 1 – 3 – 7.2% of applicants
  • Days 3 – 10 – 4.7% of applicants
  • Days 11 – 20 – 41.4% of applicants
  • Days 20 – 30 – 46.7% of applicants

This means that over 90% of candidates apply well after the window for submissions has closed for most vendor management systems. Some firms may have the incentives and systems in place to ensure recruiters follow up properly with these candidates, most don’t and these candidates are never properly reviewed.

Most staffing firm owners intuitively know that regular candidate engagement using candidate marketing concepts would be beneficial to both the candidate and staffing firm. Why then is it done by so few staffing firms? The main reason is that without the right technology you are left with two options:

  1. Have your recruiters reach out to everyone, every few months. The goal of these conversations would be to continually engage with candidates and update their profile. Possibly with an intent to also stir up some referrals, but without a job to offer, the conversations likely don’t add much value to the candidate.
  2. Send mass newsletters every couple of months. Everyone gets the same newsletter, unless of course you may do something sneaky like “Dear [first_name].”

To put it bluntly, both of these options suck.

We’ll call em:

Having your recruiters take the time to call someone who isn’t necessarily a fit for a current role is not only difficult to manage, but with databases in the hundreds of thousands, it is almost impossible to stage. Beyond that, recruiters are motivated to work on what will give them the largest benefit; submitting, interviewing and HIRING people. This isn’t to say that your recruiters aren’t strategic or don’t understand the value of building a pipeline of candidates they can call on when the right opportunity does come. They know there are better ways to spend their phone time.

Quarterly candidate newsletters, they’ll love it!:

Newsletters; boring, impersonal and filled with information about your company. People get hundreds of marketing messages every day. Newsletters barely make it past the first tap, they swipe it into the trash the second they see a subject like – “XYZ Newsletter Volume 3 – What’s new with XYZ!” Your message has to stand out, it has to be personal and it has to provide value to the reader. Every time someone gets an email, they quickly make a judgement to determine if they will get something out of an email. It doesn’t necessarily take much but they have to at least think they’ll get something out of it. Newsletters rarely pass this test.

Even if they do click, what was the intention of the message? Drive referrals? Applicants? Just talk to people? Where do you direct them to ensure they will do what you want? How can they engage with your company more if they aren’t looking for a job?

So what’s the answer?

Industries outside of Staffing use sophisticated tools for “Marketing Automation,” which allow you to send emails in a personalized way to large groups of contacts (usually sales leads). It automatically monitors how they interact with the messages you send and adjust the messaging based on their interests and more importantly how interested they are in your products and services. This is a proven method for dramatically increasing sales in every industry and company that has adopted it.

Candidate Marketing is simply taking these concepts and turning them loose on candidates, who are really just a different type of sales lead. It allows you to leveraging your database of candidates for current openings, increase referrals and build your brand so when recruiters do call, candidates know and respect your company.

Candidate marketing (like any other marketing effort) has to be a holistic strategy. Built around adding value to your candidates, but very intentional in every interaction to ensure your goals are met as well.

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