Yesterday while I was having brunch with a friend, my cell phone buzzed with a new awaiting message. Thinking it was an important message, I anxiously pulled my phone out of my belt clip. I opened the message and gasped.
Perhaps if I had been seeking a vacation timeshare my reaction might have been different, but imagine my horror the first time I received an SMS SPAM text message on my cell phone. It read “MSG:Lookng to sell or rent your Time Share logon to – www.webu….”
My mind immediately jumped to thoughts of my cell phone buzzing and ringing day and night endlessly with a barrage of drug, weight loss, stock deals, and other unsavory SPAM advertisements!
This took me back the “old days” when the Web was young; I remember receiving my first SPAM email. While it is said that email is one of the greatest technology tools of our era, technology can be used or misused. This is why it is so important to learn how to effectively use email in your recruiting efforts, while avoiding mistakes that will land you in the Junk Mail folder.
Let?s start with a quick quiz: which came first, the Internet or email? Most people don’t realize that email predates the Internet; in fact, email was first used in 1965 as a way for users of MIT’s Compatible Time-Sharing System CTSS to communicate (this is time-sharing computing time, not to be confused with time-sharing vacation homes!).
Over the years email usage grew while more advanced technology was developed primarily for government and military use. By the explosion of the Internet, email became part of the common vernacular, and today eMarketer estimates that 147 million people across the country use email daily. Clearly, it is increasingly important to develop strategies when using email to improve your relationship with candidates. The last thing you want to do is distance them through abusive emailing tactics.
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In developing your overall recruiting email campaign strategy, remember to address the following questions:
- What do you want to say?
- Who do you want to say it to?
- How often do you want to say it?
Taking those same questions and viewing them from the email recipient’s perspective, you must ask the following questions:
- What can I say that someone would care to read?
- Who cares to read it?
- When would they want to read it?
To keep things simple, we will focus on three areas that help address these questions, while providing actionable tactics. These are not all-encompassing but will offer you a foundation in evaluating your strategy:
- Opt-in/Opt-out. Before you sign someone up for a newsletter or continuously send them job openings, do you ask whether they want to receive such emails? Do you ?opt-in? and ask whether you can sign them up for regular email communication or do you just assume you can, with an option for future removal from the list? The debate about which way is best has been going on since email was available to the masses. Studies show that when you ask before you send email, people are more likely to open the email, but at the same time you will have fewer email addresses to send, therefore reducing the reach of your message. You have to decide what fits best in your culture and your process.
- Regular communications. Are you providing candidates you are courting a way to remain engaged with your company? Have you created a value-adding publication or newsletter that candidates would read and subscribe to? Are you providing them relevant industry news, association news, events they might be interested in, as well as salary and employment trends? Exposure is fundamental to relationship-building; if you create something of value targeted toward your candidates they will remember you and will appreciate the information. Likewise, if you bore them with junk that does not relate to their profession or industry they will think you don’t respect or understand them.
- Automated email agents. I remember reading an article on ERE about how people are most open to consider a career change on their birthday or as part of a New Year’s resolution. Using basic emailing programs, I can create an automated emailing agent that automatically sends a birthday card or a “Happy New Year” card to candidates who made it to the final stages of our interviewing process but ultimately accepted competitor offers. Come January 2, when they are eating that leftover fruitcake thinking how miserable their commute is or how they can’t stand their boss, they get a nice email from you and are reminded that they have a choice! You can use this same principle in many creative ways.
If you use email wisely, by respecting and understanding your target audience, you will reap the rewards. Abuse it and you will alienate the same folks you are trying to reach.