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Tips and Tricks for Engaging That Hard-to-Reach Talent

Written By
Martin Segarra
Content Producer

Did you know that, on average, each corporate job offer attracts no less than 250 resumes? With that number in mind, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that finding people for a position is not a very difficult thing to do. However, experts agree that the best talent is proactively sourced, so why do complications arise when it comes to forming working relationships with them?

According to John Vlastelica, Managing Director at Recruiting Toolbox, “it’s just harder to engage candidates – especially when that talent has 100 other companies coming after them”. If you add that to the fact that 63 percent of companies say retaining employees is actually harder than hiring them, then it becomes clear that some recruiters have been trying to fix the wrong problem. It would appear that, given the uncertain times we’re undergoing and the ensuing economic impact, available candidates for a position are at an all-time high, but this should in no way dilute the engagement problem. In fact, the recruiter’s attention should be centered on how to improve candidate engagement after a successful sourcing campaign rather than building up an even greater pool of initial talent that might not even be all that suitable for a position.

Think about it: you probably have no shortage of amazing candidates in your database already, but that serves absolutely no purpose if you can’t manage to spark their interest in your company. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and find more people, but rather go back to the drawing board and reassess your engagement strategy.

Using Automation to Your Advantage

A successful engagement strategy undoubtedly has many components, including but not limited to personalized messages, regular communications and keeping the company at the front of the candidates’ mind. Carrying out such tasks at a large scale would require a monumental effort were it not for a simple facilitator to take away the burden: automation. One of the key things to get right when it comes to talent management and acquisition is striking a careful balance between automation and human input. If these elements live in constant tension, then the recruitment processes will suffer in return.

Marvin Smith, Enterprise Talent Sourcing Practice Lead at Lockheed Martin, explains that the importance of “finding that sweet spot between automation and the human touch” cannot be overstated and that it’s imperative to strike that careful balance if we want to be successful at engaging talent. Instead of thinking about automation as a harbinger of the end of the recruiter role as we know it, Smith instead claims we have to start with “understanding how technology is used and how our role can fit into the technology” if we want to truly grasp how to engage talent effectively.

For example, CBRE harnessed the power of Avature to craft a solid communication strategy supported by automation, which included personalized email and SMS messages to keep talent engaged. The recruiters then stepped in to select potential candidates who responded positively to those messages, thus working alongside automation to enhance their sourcing efforts.

Connecting With Potential Talent

Speaking of candidate engagement, the shortcomings when it comes to getting in touch with interested talent could stem from a misguided focus or simply not knowing how to effectively get through to them. In other words, how to communicate effectively. According to Smith, the key of engaging talent lies in discovering what your audience wants and giving it to them, providing relevant, interesting and valuable information in the process.This isn’t necessarily limited to sending out open positions but rather thinking of valuable content that they might benefit from.

For example, instead of just sending candidates a list of open positions, you could try using the angle of career learning as the hook and share interview tips from your hiring managers.  This content could serve as the stepping stone for the development of career-long relationships and trust building, helping to make your organization top-of-mind. To achieve this goal, Smith claims, it’s essential for recruiters to move from talking about themselves or their brand to focusing totally on the candidates, a subtle change that will highlight how it’s really all about them and not the other way around.

Of course, none of this matters if we cannot effectively form a connection with those we are trying to reach out to. In that regard, Smith explains it’s important to keep the concept of empathy in mind in order to successfully engage talent. The very first thing we want to do concerns cognitive empathy, which translates to grabbing the candidate’s attention by putting yourself in their shoes, understanding what drives them and then tapping into that potential to show you understand. This could come in the form of a resonating empathic phrase like “Things are about to change for you” or “Time for a career checkup?”, for example.

Emotional empathy, on the other hand, might be an effective way to connect with candidates as well thanks to the perceived notion that the recruiter “feels” the candidate’s thoughts, insecurities or doubts and offers an attractive solution. Think along the lines of sharing an emotional experience that will help connect with the interested candidate.

Finally, the last item relates to compassionate empathy and involves taking the middle ground and using your emotional intelligence to correctly respond to the situation. Take Lockheed Martin, for instance, and their offering of a career without changing companies, backed up by a strong hook like “What is the best way to connect?”. Once all three steps have been completed, we can safely say that a connection has been formed, and it now comes down to nurturing that relationship over time to avoid losing it.

But how to find out what makes your audience tick? Tensions and drivers? Have these changed with COVID-19? You need the latest data available to create a truly personalized approach that actually resonates with candidates to engage them. Luckily, there exists a series of automation functions – including hyper-personalized filters and profile enrichment tools – that can help you build colourful candidate profiles to identify what content will work  best for your target talent.

Engagement in Action

Needless to say, keeping the communications going at every touch point is essential for a thorough and effective engagement strategy. While this might mean reaching out via email, virtual events in today’s climate or even a career portal tailored to your candidates’ preferences, the important thing to keep in mind is that the company should always be kept at the front of the talent’s minds.

We’ve already touched upon the Lockheed Martin approach, a philosophy which has led to a boost in candidate engagement for their mass communications. Their “right email at the right time to the right people” mentality has proven immensely effective, but luckily they aren’t the only ones who have discovered how important a successful engagement strategy is when it comes to recruiting fresh talent.

For Novo Nordisk, connecting with young talent at events and on campus has been a key strategy when it comes to sourcing. Using Avature Campus & Events to streamline administrative tasks, such as registering attendees, the TA team was able to maximize their presence at events and better engage with talent face-to-face. Novo Nordisk also went beyond using their databases as a “housing tool of resumes”, creating a series of powerful campaigns to reach out to talent quickly and on a regular basis post-event, forming lasting bonds that would keep their brand at the front of minds. For example, four times a year, the company sends targeted newsletters for 15 different career paths. Although the emails are branded, they focus on industry highlights beyond Novo Nordisk themselves and its career opportunities. This provides students with more information regarding their specific field of interest – and establishes the company as an industry expert.

Given that 67 percent of candidates visit your company website before they apply for a job, L’Oréal focused efforts on engaging with individuals extremely early in the process. Rather than delivering generic messages that might miss the mark,  the organization leveraged the power of Avature to build a personalized career site that resonates with potential candidates on an individual basis. Going beyond basic personalization tactics such as including the candidate’s name in an email, they truly tailor site content to individual visitors on a personal level. This includes only showing jobs that are available in their region by taking into account their location and showcasing jobs similar to those they have searched for previously. Through this innovative way to connect with talent before traditional written channels even come into play, L’Oreal proved just how far a powerful communication strategy can take you.

In Summary

As we’ve explored, for those struggling to fill vacant roles with qualified talent the challenge tends to lie in the ability to connect with and engage the strongest candidates in the market, rather than coming across them in the first place.

Right now, due to the unprecedented circumstances we’re living through, there are likely to be more candidates out there in the market. But don’t rest on your laurels – now is the perfect time to reassess your engagement strategy so you’re best placed to connect with the talent you’re really interested in when the tides turn. Turning engagement into a more long-term approach based on nurturing lasting candidate relationships also favors the “top-of-mind” brand mentality for targeted prospects thinking about a new position.

For those struggling to fill in vacant roles with qualified talent, the notion that it’s hard to find candidates is more often than not a mere distraction – the real challenge comes with engaging them. While there is no be-all-end-all strategy for success, following the tips outlined here and leveraging the right tech to do the heavy lifting for you, companies can tackle the struggles head on and come out on top.

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