If you’re interested in taking a more strategic approach to your sourcing efforts, the most important area to start focusing on is long-term relationships. You’ll also need to focus on the process of constantly identifying potential candidates who are “above the funnel”?? that is, individuals who are not candidates today, but are potential candidates in the future. Either way, one of the best methods of building these kinds of relationships is through permission marketing. Seth Godin coined the term “permission marketing” in his book, Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends, and Friends Into Customers, which is still viewed by many as the bible of permission marketing. The fundamental definition of permission marketing Godin develops in this book is that permission marketing messages are anticipated, personal, and relevant. Permission marketing has been successfully used in e-commerce for years, and it is fast becoming an important technique for building better relationships in recruiting. In this article, we’ll explore some techniques and ideas for building a targeted list of candidates, which is the important first step in fully utilizing permission marketing in recruiting. Create a Targeted List The first step in establishing a candidate relationship campaign based on permission marketing principles is to create a targeted list. This can consist of as little as:
- an email address, and
- identification of the type of jobs the candidate may be a fit for.
A good example of this would be the “job agents” available on job boards and at corporate sites, which allow candidates to request that information regarding openings for specific types of positions be emailed to them as the positions become available. Though you may already have the candidate’s name, this is not critical in the first phase of permission marketing. Following the above example, many job agents do not require the candidate to provide a name?? allowing the candidate increased privacy while making the process simpler and easier for them. An email address serves as a better unique identifier during this phase, since the candidate’s name can be obtained through increased permission in the future or if they apply for a position. In addition to these automatic “opt-in” targeted lists, higher quality, more selective lists of candidates should be created through networking and other means. These lists can then be gathered on spreadsheets, in databases available on applicant tracking systems, or by use of “opt-in” software. Ask For Permission Though it is common to hear about hundreds or even thousands of applicants pouring in from a single job posting, many of the best candidates must be sought out through networking, cold calling, and other means. Even if a candidate is not interested at the time of this initial contact, it is important to ask for permission to continue a relationship as follows, for example: Candidate: I’m pretty happy with my current position. Thanks anyway. Recruiter: I understand completely. I’m sure you get calls from recruiters all the time, so I don’t want to add any more to that. If I have other senior positions in Engineering available here in the future, could I shoot you a quick email about them on occasion? We might have something that interests you down the road. Would that be okay? If a candidate is not interested in the current opportunity and not willing to release their resume, the recruiter can try to keep the door open and hopefully stay on the candidate’s radar. The candidate may permit a recruiter to contact them via email, since it is often viewed as less intrusive than a telephone call. This simple step of literally just “asking for permission” can set a recruiter apart from others, and might help start a future relationship. Keep Track of Finalists Who Did Not Become Hires If a candidate turns down a position, or is a finalist but doesn’t get the job, they should not be forgotten. Instead, they should get pushed back “above the funnel,” in hopes that they may be a candidate in the future. Rather than being lost in the database, these finalists should be put on a targeted list so that if an appropriate position becomes available, they can easily be tapped. For example: “Mary, I am sorry but we filled the position with another candidate that we felt was a better fit. But Steve, the manager, was very impressed with you. Would it be okay to send you a quick email in the future if we have other marketing positions that we think you might be a fit for?” Look Beyond the “Right Here and Now” at Job Fairs At job fairs, the primary focus is on the open requisitions and trying to match them with those candidates who are looking right now. However, it is important to also:
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- Consider strong candidates with future potential more closely even if there aren’t presently any requisitions that they fit. Example: “We have a great marketing manager, but do we really think he will be here forever?”
- Consider candidates who may need another step or two on their career path before they will be ready for hire. Perhaps they will be hired by a competitor today, get the skills they need, and can be then recruited away in a year or two!
Freshmen Will Be Seniors One Day College recruiting is similar to that of job fairs, in that some students are a few years from being potential hires. Instead of encouraging freshmen and sophomores to come back in a year or two, capture basic information from them to begin warming them up for internships and future employment opportunities early in their college career. You can share information with college students through “soft sell” permission marketing to build a friendly familiarity with your organization and let them know what majors and specializations are either currently or expected to be in demand over the next few years. By sharing this vision with students at this formative stage, they may be able to bring their college plans into better focus and, perhaps, become better aligned with your organization’s future needs. Conclusion However you accomplish your list-building efforts, just remember the old adage: “garbage in, garbage out.” Always strive to build a quality list. By starting with a solid base, capturing some basic information about potential candidates, and maintaining relationships with them, you can build long-term relationships that will allow you to more easily turn strangers into candidates, and candidates into hires.