Building Candidate Loyalty

In consumer marketing, entire programs and departments are created to increase brand and customer loyalty. The more loyal a customer is to the brand and the product, the higher their “intent to purchase.” The more likely they are to refer a friend to use the product, the more likely they are to continually purchase from your company. These principles can be directly applied in the recruiting world to gain a strong competitive advantage for top talent. How Fresh Is Your Data? It sounds very strange to talk about a bunch of ones and zeroes as “fresh” or “stale.” But this is an important concept, since how up-to-date your database is can have a direct effect on your ability to recruit effectively. For an example, let’s start with your current ATS database, which has probably ó very recently ó grown to monstrous proportions. For those without an applicant tracking system, we can start with the filing cabinets that seem to be cloning themselves every time you step out of the office. If a new position becomes available tomorrow, and you want to mine your existing database of candidates, will you be working with the right information? That is, will the candidate you paid to recruit into your database three years ago ó who happens to be the perfect candidate for the job and is thinking about leaving her current company ó be recognized as such based on the information you have in your database? This begs the question: What good is your database if the data you have is not up to date? How can you more effectively tap into what you have already built? One-To-One and Customer Lifecycle Marketing An elusive, not completely realized goal in the consumer-marketing world has been to achieve a state of one-to-one marketing. Through one-to-one marketing, past actions drive future, more personalized communications, which are timed to produce maximum results. In practice, one-to-one marketing is still one-to-many marketing, but much more personalized and segmented. Here’s a great illustration from the consumer marketing world, courtesy of a large Time magazine feature on the email marketing industry: Hewlett-Packard’s customer research has shown that buyers of their printers typically run out of toner after a certain time period. Through their product registration database, they have given their customers the option to opt in for information that will help them maintain their printers. They then time email correspondences to provide tips on things like extending the life of a toner cartridge in advance of when a customer will need a new one. In essence, they are making their customer relationships stronger by providing information that their customers want to receive ó and making a tidy profit doing so. How does this translate into dollars for HP? Extending on the toner cartridge example, HP printer customers will not only get tips, but along with those tips, they give their customers an option to buy a new toner cartridge at the exact time that their customer research has shown they will need one. This is not marketing to the masses, like a banner or trade journal ad, or even a direct mail piece to existing customers. It is targeted, behavior-driven, opt-in advertising at its best. Through a combination of personalization, segmentation, and timing, the program is generating $300 million per year in revenue for HP, at an expense that is far less than a traditional direct mail campaign. Candidate Loyalty and Relationship Marketing In recruiting, there are a growing number of examples of companies that are reaching into their candidate database to build loyalty and extend their employer brand. While there will never be a substitute for personal, one-to-one contact, there are ways to supplement your relationship-building efforts using technology. Here are a few relevant examples:

  • An enterprise software company was able to get 2,000 high-level sales candidates who had previously made it to the second interview phase to resubmit their resumes. While they couldn’t hire all of these candidates, they have built a ready, highly qualified pipeline for when their hiring needs increase ó at a cost that is far less than it would have been for a media campaign.
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  • A retail company has begun sending targeted communications to diverse candidates to encourage them to continue to update their resumes and apply for new positions. The communications also brand them as an employer that is highly inclusive by highlighting the impressive diversity initiatives at the company.
  • A healthcare provider is on the verge of implementing a relationship marketing campaign that will spread word-of-mouth in a finite community of nurses about new developments in their facilities and in their work environment.
  • A retail company is increasing the capture rate of passive candidates on their website, while selectively creating ongoing relationships with the most qualified candidates.

It has been said that recruiting is not a catastrophic event. In other words, top talent will need to be convinced that you are the employer for them, and that does not happen immediately when they see your job posting, visit your website or even submit their resume. Recruiting is a relationship, and that relationship must be cultivated over time. Technology can help you accomplish this in ways that you never thought possible.

Dave Lefkow is currently the CEO of talentspark (, a consulting firm that helps companies use technology to gain a competitive advantage for talent, and a regular contributor to ERE on human capital, technology, and branding related subjects. He is also an international speaker on human capital trends and best practices, having spoken in countries as close as Canada and as far away as Malaysia and Australia. His consulting work has spanned a wide variety of industries and recruiting challenges with companies like Starbucks, Boeing, HP, Microsoft, Expedia, Washington Mutual, Nike and Swedish Medical Center.


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