Have you ever reminded a candidate that your company mission and values align with their own? Ever crafted compelling, crisp messages to engage candidates? If you’ve employed these tactics as a recruiter, you’ve thought like a salesperson and a marketer.
In our recent webinar with Hired SVP of People Kelli Dragovich and Lever CMO Leela Srinivasan, we learned that when you follow the five steps of the sales and marketing funnel -awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy- you can become an even more dynamic recruiter. Today, we’re excited to share those five steps with you.
Step 1: Create Awareness
In the realms of sales and marketing, your first objective is often to brand your product or service. When you find creative ways to set yourself apart, you come to mind once prospects are ready to dive into a purchase. In recruiting, your employer brand is just as essential to craft.
Have the right people heard about your company? Do they know what it’s like to work there? According to Kelli, the key to employer branding is to target the right people with messages that stand out. If you try to build an employer brand with everyone, you will fail. She has seen large and small companies struggle with marketing themselves to everyone, when in reality their goal should be to formulate creative messages for specific talent pools. “You also have to separate your consumer brand from your employer brand,” says Leela. “It’s very easy for people to be impressed by your consumer brand but not actually know what it’s like to work at your company.”
While you have agency over your employer brand most of the time, candidates can also impact your employer brand through online reviews. Considering that 54% of applicants read company reviews online, that impact can be wide-reaching, says Kelli. The trick is to focus on what you can control. Even if you reject a candidate, make sure their experience was still fantastic. That way, they can become a promoter. When a candidate’s experience is not consistent with your brand, the negative reviews roll in. With this potential for feedback (negative or positive) in mind, both Kelli and Leela pay close attention to all Glassdoor reviews. Kelli encourages her candidates to go on Glassdoor whether they are hired or not, and Leela responds to all negative reviews with humility and appreciation for each candidate’s time. If their teams ever drop the ball with a candidate, they try to use that experience as a learning opportunity.
As you work to create a strong employer brand, don’t forget that it can be more powerful when your fellow employees help craft it. Recently, Leela conducted a quick audit of Lever’s presence on LinkedIn. When she compared Lever’s number of followers to the total number of employee connections, she found that Lever’s employee connections were 45x the number of followers. Following this finding, Leela organized an initiative in partnership with Brand Amper that encouraged all Lever employees to use their LinkedIn profiles as mediums for storytelling. 80% of Lever employees ultimately overhauled their profiles and used them to show the unique reasons they’re excited about Lever. As Leela noted, all of your employees combined often have more reach than your company page. At Hired, a different employee takes over the company instagram account every week. “They talk about what’s going on in their own world and in their market,” says Kelli. “When they show what it’s really like to work here, they connect with the right people.”
Step 2: Encourage consideration
In the world of marketing, your objective is to make a lasting first impression and then continue to create that positive user experience. In your sales role, you may connect with prospects through outreach or inbound requests, and from that moment on your goal is to give them a remarkable sales experience. As a recruiter, you want to make a lasting first impression on your candidates. And whether you connect with them through sourcing or application flow, you strive to provide them with an incredible candidate experience.
Kelli has learned that candidate experience begins with the first touchpoint, whether that’s when a candidate reads a story about your company, scans your home page, or talks to one of your employees on the street. No matter what, it’s essential to show candidates the true experience of employees at your company, and to think strategically about how and when you’re going to do that. “Companies often hit or miss with candidates who may be considering other opportunities,” says Kelli. “At Hired, we want to make the whole recruiting process less of a headache through connecting the right candidates with the right companies at the right time.”
“At Lever, we also know timing is everything, so one of the most popular features in our product is our snooze button,” Leela says. “You can put any candidate into hibernation in your pipeline and they then pop up closer to the time you can hire them. When we spent time with our users in their offices, we noticed that their screens were pasted with post-its because there wasn’t a way for them to get the timing right otherwise.”
To refine your candidate experience, Leela and Kelli have a few recommendations up their sleeves. To get a better sense of the candidate experience you’re building, apply to your company and audit your process. It shouldn’t take forever for an applicant to submit their resume and answer a few of your supplemental questions. To improve your on-site interview process, put more thought and care into the structure of your interview panels and remember that every interview is a two-way evaluation. According to Leela, it is shocking how little training is given to hiring managers so that they can be successful. You have to let them know that it’s their responsibility to prepare for every discussion with candidates. Finally, improve your candidate’s overall experience with timely follow-ups at every turn. If you put yourself in the shoes of your candidate, you’ll realize how torturous it is to wait for hours on end to hear from your recruiter.
Step 3: Enable conversion
We all know that effective sales cycles end with a dynamic closing strategy. Your recruiting process should not be any different. After a series of two-way reference checks in which you and your candidate confirm that you have found the right fit, you should be ready to tell a candidate why they should join your team.
Kelli believes that you are only ready to make an offer once you’ve figured out what matters to your candidate. You have to ask yourself what drives them and what’s important to them. Maybe it’s flexibility, the ability to do passion projects on the side, or challenging work. No matter what their motivating factors are, you need to create a holistic offer that hits all of those motivations.
And don’t forget that speed is essential throughout the process, Kelli warns. A quick no is just as important as a yes. “One of my favorite terms is: A lack of making a decision is making a decision, says Kelli. “Making a decision one way or another is key because when it comes down to it, no candidate wants to be left in a black hole.” If you treat others the way you want to be treated, then you’ll keep the time in between steps as low as possible.
Step 4: Engender loyalty
As a marketer, a part of your overall strategy is to instill loyalty in your customers so that you continue your partnership. As a recruiter, your hope is that once your new hire starts, they continue to feel satisfied with their decision.
Both Leela and Kelli firmly believe that the close is just the beginning. Too many companies fail to prioritize onboarding and a warm welcome for their new hires. “At Lever, we believe that being a great employer starts before day one,” Leela says. “To show employees how excited we are before they show up, we create a welcome GIF for them. It’s dead easy, free, and when we send it to the candidate, it makes them so psyched about Lever.” Leela remembers that after she received her GIF, she started evangelizing for Lever even before her first day. Leela also appreciates how Lever makes recruiting a core part of so many discussions. “At our company all-hands, we spotlight candidates who just said yes,” Leela says. “We talk about what motivated them, why they were looking, what the turning point was, and what our key takeaways are. This keeps employee engagement top of mind for our team.”
Just as candidate experience starts before we talk to a candidate, an employee’s time at our company starts before their first day, Kelli says. Her team wants each new hire to know how excited they all are. For that reason, her team deeply invests in the new hire’s experience from the day they sign their offer to 90 days plus at the company. To allow new employees to build relationships and understand the flow of the company before they start work, Hired flies everyone to their headquarters in San Francisco regardless of where they were hired. Then, they spend time at Hired headquarters for two weeks.
Step 5: Inspire advocacy
If you’re a marketer, you likely hope that your customer will tell the world how fantastic their experience with your company has been. When you get advocacy right, your customers can be the people who become crucial in driving awareness to future prospects who then becomes customers. If you’re a recruiter, your hope is similar. Ideally, your employees will go out and tell the world how much they’ve enjoyed their experience, and that action will draw other candidates and future employees into your pipeline.
Kelli’s team at Hired has a philosophy that every single employee is a recruiter. She wants everyone to feel empowered to refer candidates who could be a great fit. In her experience, tapping into the social web of employees has been a powerful strategy.
At Lever, Leela encourages her employees to share exciting news about the company and the ins and outs of daily life. She wants her fellow employees to become active in their networks, and when they do, she’s not shy about giving them a high five in the kitchen. In order to motivate employees to actually find qualified candidates in their networks, Lever recently hosted a sourcing jam. Leela remembers that everyone gathered in a room, ate pizza, and tapped into their networks. These kinds of sessions can be incredibly successful because people are much more likely to respond to a message if it’s from someone they know.
In a market where top talent is harder to engage than ever before, recruiters are trying out fresh, unprecedented strategies. If you want to begin thinking outside the box, we encourage you to put on your sales representative and marketer hats more often.
Leela and Kelli packed too many incredible insights in their webinar to include in this blog post. If you’d like to hear them all, you can get your own free recording here!