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Engaging Talent in Uncertain Times

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It’s no secret that the COVID-19 crisis has had a major impact on how organizations engage talent.

In the last week of March, a record 6.6M people in the United States filed for unemployment. This downturn is mirrored by a sharp drop in job vacancies, with Glassdoor reporting a 27.7 percent decrease in postings over the last couple of months. With the balance between candidate and recruiter being so heavily put out of kilter, businesses now need to rethink their approach to attract candidates.

In a recent webinar with Kirsten Tolfree-Dart, Head of Operational Excellence at Caraffi, explained the importance of talent engagement, how businesses can fine-tune their talent engagement strategies to survive these uncertain times and the primacy of improving candidate experience when hiring returns to normal.

Focus On Protecting Your Employer Brand

With 80 percent of talent acquisition leaders believing that the reputation of their organization impacts their ability to attract candidates, a strong employer brand has long been a cornerstone of any successful talent engagement strategy.

This doesn’t necessarily mean having the biggest name in the marketplace, but rather being able to successfully communicate your organization’s employer brand proposition in a way that leaves candidates eager to join your ranks.

During these times of heightened stress, how you engage talent with your audience will have a major influence on your standing in the marketplace long after the COVID-19 crisis finishes.

Remember, heavy-handed methods or tone-deaf messaging will be a turnoff for prospects in a landscape where half of candidates report that they would not work for an organization with a negative reputation.

Fine-Tuning Your Candidate Communications to Engage Talent

So how can you refine your communications, avoid alienating your talent network and improve the candidate experience?

The first thing when looking to improve the candidate experience in recruitment is transparency. We all appreciate honesty, so don’t be afraid to be open about how the crisis is affecting your hiring processes. You should also consider shifting the focus of your content.

While you may have previously adopted a light-hearted approach in an effort to inspire candidates that yours is a workplace of choice, the time is to humanize your communications in light of the crisis. Consider sharing tips with candidates, such as how to prepare for an interview, or focus on how your organization is managing its workforce in these trying times.

In addition to refining your messaging, the means of communication you employ plays an important role in effectively engaging talent. There has been a significant uptick in social media use during the pandemic, making platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter invaluable in fostering a positive image not only within your own network but also with unknown talent. By leveraging these channels you can showcase what it is like to work at your organization or empower employees to act as brand ambassadors to better attract candidates.

If you had regularly posted prior to the pandemic then don’t let your social media accounts fall dormant as candidate experience research shows that talent is likely to favor a company that actively maintains its brand. As mentioned previously, honesty is paramount, so be upfront about the status of your recruitment programs, and if you’re not hiring look to engage talent in a way that resonates with the current climate.

Even if there is a lull in your hiring programs, you should still actively engage talent with transparent and empathetic email campaigns. These communications will ensure that your organization stays in the minds of candidates when normality returns. You can improve this strategy by segmenting your lists to target your audience with appropriate content, as well as personalizing and automating your communications. All of this can be achieved with a robust candidate relationship management platform (CRM).

Strengthening your employer brand is a great opportunity to improve how you engage talent. Be transparent, tweak your content and use the right channels accordingly.

Kirsten Tolfree-Dart – Head of Operational Excellence – Caraffi

Enhance The Recruitment Experience

A major contributing factor to your employer brand is the candidate experience. Too often candidates are frustrated by slow processes or radio silence, leaving them with a sour taste of their dealings with an organization. With some sectors seeing an eight-fold increase in applications due to widespread layoffs, these complaints can now likely be attributed to overwhelmed recruiters. However, it is important to keep in mind the speed at which news of negative interactions can travel. A poor candidate recruitment experience will hamper your ability to engage talent in the future.

With a flexible HCM platform, you can automate manual tasks to lessen the load on recruiters and ensure candidates aren’t frustrated by unnecessary bottlenecks. You can follow similar best practices with your communications to ensure that candidates are updated accordingly. Keep in mind that people prefer bad news to no news at all.

If your business is experiencing hiring freezes you can use this downtime to survey current employees and previous applicants to get feedback on their recruitment experience. This will allow you to tweak your processes accordingly so that when hiring returns to normal your organization is best positioned to offer a seamless candidate experience. These surveys can be built and sent out with minimum involvement from your recruiters using Avature CRM.

If you’re experiencing hiring freezes, now is the perfect time to pause and reflect on how you can enhance the candidate experience. Any improvements you can make now will give you the upper hand when hiring returns to normal.

Kirsten Tolfree-Dart – Head of Operational Excellence – Caraffi

Engage Talent at Your Fingertips

From reducing hiring costs to improving employee engagement, the benefits of a focused internal mobility strategy have long been known. Now, in the face of widespread hiring freezes, more businesses are looking to source from within their own workforce via internal talent marketplaces as a strategy to ensure that they can continue to fill high-priority positions.

This means that organizations must reassess how they engage talent within their own ranks. In a previous webinar, we heard how L’Oreal gave their employees greater visibility into the opportunities available within the organization. This proved to be the catalyst to filling 75 percent of positions posted on external career sites with L’Oreal employees, leading to a variety of time and cost savings for the company.

To Wrap Up…

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, we all need to reassess how we engage talent. Organizations that can leverage these uncertain times to strengthen their employer brand, fine-tune the candidate recruitment experience and unearth standout talent within their own ranks will not only position themselves to survive this period of disruption but thrive when hiring returns to normal.

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