By Stormie Haller, Director of Marketing at Able

The staffing industry is evolving at an ever-increasing pace. The only constant is change, or so the saying goes. 

Comfort should be uncomfortable. If you continue to do things the way you’ve always done them, other firms will find ways to automate, streamline, and enhance themselves, and will eventually overtake you.

The very fact that you’re reading these words suggests that you don’t want to be left behind, that you’re open to the idea of change. So let’s take a moment to look at a few of the most effective recruiting methods that you may not have tested yet, beginning with one of the more abstract elements of staffing: the candidate experience.

Creating a custom candidate experience

There’s a constant temptation in the staffing industry to replace names with numbers, particularly in entry-level, high-quantity, and high-turnover sectors. In many ways it feels like technology is pushing us in this direction, as human contact is replaced with keystrokes.

But an impersonal and transactional approach isn’t a long-term one. To ignore the candidate’s experience is to burn bridges one by one, until you isolate yourself from talent. Recruiting is the most human of industries, and in an increasingly digital world candidates are actually crying out for more human experiences.

The good news? Just as technology can decrease the humanity in staffing, so too can it increase it.

Understanding the strategy of candidate experience

To understand how to improve the candidate experience, you must first understand the current shape of the candidate experience.

73% of job searches start on Google, move to the major job boards, and end up on a job post. When you think about it, this initial journey is quite similar to the B2C sales funnel, and should be treated in a similar way. As such, you should ask yourself:

  • Is my job post optimized for search engines?
  • Am I applying a persona-based approach to my job posting?
  • Is the application process optimized for mobile?

Once an application is received, the focus switches to communication. 63% of candidates want more communication, and 69% want better response times. 

The response from recruiters is predictable and fair… “but I’ve already got too much to do!” 

Helping busy recruiters to both increase and hasten communication demands a shift in organizational mindset. To improve the candidate experience, you must first improve the recruiter experience. 

The role of technology in the recruiter experience

Automation. A bad word for a factory worker, an excellent word for a recruiter.

Automation frees recruiters from the low-value busywork and lets them focus on the high-value, personalized outreach. Smart tech can enhance the quantity, quality, and speed of communications. It can source, screen, and sort candidates. It can answer basic questions and collect basic information. It forms the foundation of a good candidate experience and frees the recruiter up to make it a great one.

Take chatbots as an example. As long as a recruiter is brought in when necessary, candidates will appreciate this technology, because it means they won’t have to spend 10 minutes on hold. And by allowing the recruiter to focus on the high-value and human, the experience offered to the candidate will be greatly enhanced.

The role of technology extends beyond automation too. According to Spark Hire, 73% of candidates will leave a site if it’s not optimized for mobile, with one in five never returning. Some staffing firms have taken the user experience to the nth degree, offering on-demand functionality that allows a candidate to secure a job with a single click.

The branding benefits of a good candidate experience

Whether finding a restaurant, booking an Airbnb, or choosing a product on Amazon, online reviews are increasingly shaping our decision-making. Staffing is beginning to follow the same trajectory, a fact that makes the candidate experience critical. Offer a bad experience and your reputation will take a hit, causing your talent streams to dry up. Offer a great candidate experience, on the other hand, and your cup will runneth over.

It’s thanks in part to review platforms like Glassdoor and Great Recruiters that the industry is becoming more conscious of the experience it is offering to candidates. And the benefits of crafting a good reputation and brand don’t end there…

Building a healthy candidate community

By enhancing your candidate experience, you have the ability to build a community of top talent within your vertical: a deep well from which you can pull the very best candidates whenever you need them. Let’s take a look at what this means.

Taking a community-driven approach to recruiting

You only hear from a recruiter when they want something from you. This perception lingers because it’s how many staffing professionals continue to operate, despite it being an unhealthy and ineffective practice, particularly for placing high-level talent. 

Consider a specialist IT recruiter tasked with sourcing software engineers, app developers, cybersecurity specialists, and CIOs. Finding this talent of LinkedIn, Indeed, or Monster is difficult, and the professionals you do find won’t usually take kindly to an unsolicited call.

The solution? Don’t go to them – let them come to you. Be where your candidates are, sell yourself as someone worth knowing:

  • Join the online groups and channels where your ideal candidates are found, and become an active commenter and contributor.
  • Once you establish yourself in these communities, begin building your own. Create content that answers the questions that candidates are asking, whether via a blog, LinkedIn posts, short videos, or a podcast.
  • As your community builds, begin to highlight opportunities to these warm, inbound candidates.

The role of brand in building a community 

The process described above isn’t quick or easy. It’s a long-term play, and realizing the rewards will take time and effort. But it’s for this reason that the approach continues to be underutilized, and continues to be effective for those who commit to it.

The size of the task means that support is absolutely critical. A firm should supply content for their recruiters to share, should give them the time and resources necessary to create content, and should offer training on doing it all effectively.

But a firm can only help a recruiter so much. At the end of the day, they need to put the effort in to make a name for themselves. 

The recruiter brand can be thought of as the foundation of the community-driven recruiting approach. It’s the first thing that must be laid, because everything else is built on top of it.

Tips for community-driven recruiting

Building a community from scratch can feel overwhelming, but by being smart about how you do it, you can make it easier and far more fun.

  • Go analog: While a platform like LinkedIn may feel like the obvious place to build a community, there’s still room for analog methods. Offer your services as a speaker at an industry event. Host a candidate meetup. Be visible both online and in person.
  • Think outside the box: What does your target candidate look like? “I’m hiring for IT, so they look like an IT professional,” comes the reply. But in many verticals this tunnel vision might result in missed opportunities. During COVID an overwhelming demand for carers saw savvy recruiters tapping the hospitality talent pool, a large portion of which had been made redundant, because they had the necessary soft skills and were eager to work. There are currently three million women looking for work right now. Can you make them a part of your talent community? If you can, you’ll crush it.

In fact, such diversification of your candidate pool really warrants a conversation all its own.

Diverse, social, and tech-assisted recruiting methods

Let’s complete this rundown with a quick-fire round of some of the least utilized yet most effective strategies in modern recruiting. And let’s begin this section as we ended the last: with diversification.

Diversified sourcing

We all now understand that a diverse workforce is more adaptable, efficient, effective, and productive than a homogeneous one, and that recruiting firms must cultivate diversity within their candidate pools.

To do this effectively you must first address unconscious biases, which can be difficult, what with them being unconscious and all.

An example: women won’t generally apply for jobs if they don’t meet 100% of the requirements. Men on the other hand are happy to apply if they meet just 60% of the requirements (and so they should be!). Leveling this particular playing field might involve separating requirements into must-haves and nice-to-haves, or removing gendered language, as words like commanding and hustle don’t tend to inspire women to apply.

The value of diverse talent can be lost in the day-to-day of recruiting, so it’s critical that you have regular conversations with your recruiters about diverse sourcing. If you’re not thinking about diversity, it simply won’t happen. It demands affirmative action. Check out more tips to acquire diverse talent here. 

Social recruiting innovation

The human nature of staffing means it’s an industry built for social media. Firms and recruiters need to be brave enough to use it – effectively.

Inspiration can be taken from non-recruiting strategies. Direct-to-consumer companies are particularly innovative in their use of social media. Yum Brands, for example, recently acquired Tictuk, which allows a social media user to order food via social media and messaging platforms. Tweak this technology ever so slightly, and you could have candidates applying for jobs via Instagram or WhatsApp.

Look at how direct-to-consumer companies are communicating with their audience and the technology they’re using to get ahead. You might be surprised at how many techniques transfer over to staffing.

Identifying the right platforms

Innovative use of social media demands that you understand the platforms you should be targeting and how to use them.

Where do your candidates hang out? LinkedIn is a business friendly space that is great for high-end talent. TikTok is where you’ll find graduates and entry-level workers, and it’s fantastic for humanizing yourself in a fun and authentic way. Facebook is a must, for no other reason than everyone uses it.

Begin by building a brand page for your firm on the relevant platforms to act as a “home base” before helping each of your recruiters develop their own profile. Activity should be taken care of by individual recruiters, not by the brand page, because people want to deal with people, not faceless organizations. As with automation, effective social media use is about enhancing the humanity of your recruiters, not replacing it.

Are you ready for the new frontier?

The world has changed more since the start of the COVID pandemic than perhaps at any other time in human history. To some, this new reality is full of risk and uncertainty. To others, it represents an opportunity to do better and be better.

There’s no time like the present to enhance your candidate experience, to build a strong and talented candidate community, to spread your candidate reach, to develop agile hiring methods, to automate the onboarding process, and to adopt technologies that will push your firm forward.

But no one is going to do it for you. The next step is up to you. 

Click here to download the Recruiting Methods Strategies Guide.

Stormie Haller is the Director of Marketing at Able, a SaaS platform for onboarding automation. She has spent the last 9 years focusing on data to drive creative marketing and sales efforts. She’s passionate about reducing the tension between sales and marketing teams to ensure a great experience throughout the entire sales funnel. Stormie holds a degree in Advertising from Kent State University with minors in Business and Marketing.