This is the first in a (4) four part series about why candidates fail to engage and what you and your teams can do to change the dynamic.
People who know me would say I don’t have much of a filter. I think anyone I have worked with or consulted would agree. Some of what I am about to say will sound harsh, but, it's time to rip the metaphorical bandaid off.
The reason candidates don’t engage with you is...YOU! There I said it. Now, before your head explodes, let me explain. Look, we would all prefer to point the finger at something or someone else from time to time. Collectively, we have blamed generational shifts, candidate preferences, or communication styles as the culprits of ever dwindling candidate engagement. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We all have. While these things are true, they offer only partial assessments that ultimately fail to get to the heart of the matter.
The real problem can be summed up in one word: Noise.
Most of us are “plugged in” all the time. We have our phone, a laptop, or a tablet and we are monitoring multiple channels of information on each one. Our Work/Job related streams tend to dominate the day but, we are also inundated with personal emails and texts. We get WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat notifications all day. Our attention is fragmented and we are drawn to whatever new alert we receive next.
Why would you think it is different for candidates? These same distractions create noise that they must filter through to get to what matters to them.
So why is this your fault? Because in many cases you, or your teams, and the 1000's other recruiters in your industry are creating the very thing you are battling. Noise.
In your defense you are doing what you have been trained/advised to do. You invest time in thoughtful and clever subject lines to boost open rates. You review social profiles so you can send personalized emails, texts and direct messages and yet you get anemic response rates at best Why? Because to candidates your messages are just more noise for them to deal with.
Look at how you, yourself, choose which information to respond to or engage with. With all of the data and messages that come at you every day what makes you decide to open up a text from a friend with a Borat Meme in it?
Are you busy? Probably. Do you love Borat? Maybe. Even though this is a distraction from what you are focused on in that moment, you don't feel put upon or that someone has invaded your space. Why? Because it comes from a trusted source who knows you and you know them.
In our industry we talk about “Sourcing” candidates as being, perhaps, the hardest part of the job. Is that true? Really? Isn’t the real challenge sourcing candidates who will talk to us?
This Age of Information/Data provides us a multitude of ways to direct source (or in some cases purchase) profile data that includes email addresses and cell phone numbers. I would argue that we have proven that we know where candidates are and how to get their data. What we have not demonstrated is the ability to capture their attention in a way that encourages them to consistently engage with us.
I know that someone reading this right now is thinking “I/we recruit people for tough jobs using cold email outreach. We do it every day and we make hires!” I am sure you do, but keep in mind that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then.
Cutting through the noise to create real conversations at scale requires more than a clever subject line or a personalized snippet of information you gleaned from someones social profiles in an effort to "connect".
Digital and Recruitment Marketing teaches us that the candidates, just like consumers, go through distinct phases in their Career Journey as it relates to companies and opportunities. These stages can be broken into the broad categories of Awareness, Engagement, and Conversion. Guiding prospects through this process and creating opportunities for them to reach the Conversion stage takes a plan that's designed to:
This is just as true for a front line recruiter as it is for someone leading the Recruitment Marketing efforts for a global organization. The only difference is scale.
In Part 2 of this series, we will explore how to begin to cut through the noise by understanding the “What”, “Where” and “When” of impactful outreach.