article by Dr. John Sullivan and Master Burnett While the methods of recruiting have changed somewhat with the times, the critical challenges that most recruiters face have not. We still struggle to find enough time to get everything that needs to get done finished; we still deal with misperceptions by others regarding what it is we actually do; and we still struggle to find a way into that last remote, untapped, unidentified talent pool. It is this last issue that this article will address. Then and Now In the old days when communities were much smaller than they are now, most people in the community knew what was going on inside the manufacturing plants or office buildings in the community and in neighboring communities, because word of mouth spread through the grapevine and kept them informed. They knew who was hiring and for what. They knew what community service activities each company was participating in, and how each firm was planning to grow. These days our communities have ballooned, and the classic grapevine doesn’t reach nearly as far as it used to. Today the communication grapevine on average stretches just one layer of separation to those in the community who are directly connected to someone who works inside the local organization. The primary difference between then and now is that back then all stakeholders were involved, whereas today they are disconnected. Pulling Your Stakeholders Back In Recruiting organizations need a method to convert everyone around into a cohesive set of eyes and ears that keep an eye out for talent, foster developing talent, and spread the word about what it means to work for their firm. They need universities to know what skills their organization will be looking for in the future, they need those with appropriate skills for today to know what a great place their firm is to work for, and they need everyone to know who they are on the look out for. In short, recruiting organizations need a method to communicate with everyone connected to or interested in the success of the firm, a group often referred to as stakeholders. This group includes:
- Community service groups
- Professional organizations
- Community leaders (including religious leaders)
- Universities and high schools
Now, some will argue that communicating with stakeholders is not the job of recruiters, but rather that of public relations or marketing. To those we argue back: what is a recruiter if not a specialist in public relations, marketing, sales, and analyst all rolled into one, whose job is to identify where in the global community accessible talent exists? The Method We will be the first to admit that e-mail inboxes are clogged, mostly with information we have no desire to obtain (such as the latest alternative to Viagra available online without a doctors prescription). However, amidst the spam there are emails that contain a wealth of knowledge about things we do want to learn more about, things which we are naturally curious about, including going’s on in our local communities. As recruiters, we have available to us a great tool to contact our stakeholders: that method is electronic news updates or e-newsletters. E-newsletters are small, inexpensive ways to communicate a wealth of distinct information to a number of distinct audiences relatively quickly. The primary challenge is not identifying who should be the recipient, or how to distribute the e-newsletter, but rather in what to say so that the communication becomes so valued that it is never overlooked. The key is to distribute different information to different stakeholders based on their interest and connectedness to the organization. Getting Started Starting an e-newsletter is easy; developing it into something of value is much more difficult. According to e-news expert Arthur Fedich of MelissaData, “There are many shabby e-newsletters out there that are nothing more than another promotional vehicle for the company that puts them out.” What firms must do is balance a small degree of promotion with a much larger volume of valuable information. Using this method, the promotion of your firm becomes more subliminal. “Usually about 80% news and information content to 20% promotional content will do the trick,” says Fedich. Keep the following tips in mind:
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- Focus on what your readers will find valuable, not what you think is valuable or worthwhile.
- Try to develop informative content that they can use to manage differently in their own lives.
- Keep news updates short, something that can be read in a minute or two, and which is light enough that it doesn’t require a great deal of concentration.
- Use catchy headlines and bullets to emphasize major points.
- Always provide contact information so that those who want more information don’t have to struggle to find a source for it.
- Don’t overdo the communications. Adjust the frequency of your efforts to a level your audience is comfortable with. (Becoming an annoyance is a sure fire way to get your audience to tune out.)
Highlight on Best Practices Around the globe some leading firms are doing some great things using e-newsletters in recruiting. Following are some highlights you might find adaptable to your own organization:
- A leading high-tech firm has implemented a communications model in recruiting that uses a layered approach, embedding small snippets of recruiting-related news, such as emerging skill needs, in non-recruiting-related publications such as white-papers, product advertisements, and the like.
- A global conglomerate has developed a “spotlight on the future” newsletter that is sent each quarter to specific universities that support the industries and member companies covered by the conglomerate. The newsletter highlights trends in the industries and specific skill changes that will be needed to address the trends.
- A regional healthcare organization has developed a “state of healthcare” newsletter that is distributed to community organizations and the press alerting them to talent shortages, and asking for their help. The effort has resulted in an eleven percent increase in total applicant volume.
Conclusion All around you are stakeholders that have a vested interest in helping your organization succeed. Unfortunately, most organizations have cut them out of the information loop, and as a result cut off the stakeholders as a channel to provide talent. Recruiters need to reestablish the grapevine and leverage the eyes and ears of the community to help their organization succeed. As always, track your success using metrics, and fine-tune your efforts over time.