What are you doing to build your own Talent Database?

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Aug 5, 2013

When I ask this question I’m not talking about Boolean strings, x-ray searches on LinkedIn or other sourcing methods and tactics (highly valuable skills that you can learn more about from the other great articles on the SourceCon site), but trying to leverage the recruitment investments you are already making outside of sourcing to attract, capture and engage with potential candidate contacts. In this way, it’s looking at how you are building upon the talent database you already have from sourcing, automatically through your recruitment marketing activities.

Whether it’s posting to job boards, engaging on social media, branding your Career Site, leveraging SEO and mobile, you can leverage these activities to build upon a talent database that you can not only cultivate but use as the first place you search to source qualified candidates.

You are losing potential recruiting contacts today

If you are like most organizations, you post jobs to job boards, have a SEO and/or mobile career site, engage on social media and do a whole host of other initiatives to attract the right talent to your organization. For most if not all of these initiatives, you are aiming to attract active job seekers or job seekers that are currently looking for a new opportunity. And appropriately the main goal of these initiatives is to increase applicant flow. But in many cases, this is the ONLY goal of these initiatives and it’s this way of thinking that leads to a big wasted opportunity.

If you look at your recruiting process today, you’ll most likely notice that candidate drop-off during the application process is typically high. Based on an aggregated view of recruitment marketing data, 50-80% of candidates drop-off* before finishing an application (this number will differ based on job type, location, company, application length, etc.)

There are some that would argue that if a candidate didn’t take the time to finish the application, we don’t want them. However, for all of these initiatives, you have made a large investment whether it’s budget, time, people and/or other resources. And to measure success just based on applicant conversion, you’re selling these initiatives short.

Think of it this way. Every candidate that drops off showed some interest in your organization and jobs. You know they interacted with your job ads and other recruiting channels but you have no idea who they are or how to contact them because you didn’t capture it in your application process. The candidate could be anyone from highly qualified to unqualified for the position but is lost to you forever unless they come back to finish another application.

If you are able to capture them in a CRM, you then have the unique ability to capture more information, engage with candidates to keep them warm for future opportunities and source them for specific open job requisitions. These initiatives now help to not only bolster applicant flow into your ATS but also help you build a Talent Network you can use to fill positions more quickly and in many cases for less spend.

Leveraging your recruiting investments to capture talent

Now let’s look at how you can accomplish this.

When a candidate applies to a job they do so mainly through two main places, from a recruiting destination (job board, social network, niche site, etc.) or through the Career Site (not to be confused with the ATS job application itself). And typically the process is very simple.

  1. They visit a job destination (job board, social network, niche site, etc.) and are sent to the applicant tracking system (ATS) specific job page before entering the application.
  2. They visit the career site (either directly or through search engine), search for jobs and click to apply from a specific job page. They are then taken to the ATS job page before entering the application.

In both of these scenarios, you only know who these candidates are if they get fully through the application process. In order to begin capturing candidate information before the apply process there is a small but significant change that can have a tremendous impact on the value you get out of these recruitment investments. And that’s putting capture forms directly into the job apply flow process.

Here’s the process. A job seeker clicks to apply for a job on a job board or your SEO Career Site instead of going directly to the job page on the ATS they are taken to a simple contact form that asks for basic contact information (and potentially a resume). Once they fill out the form (or choose to skip) they are then passed on to the ATS application. For any candidate that opts in, a candidate record is created in the CRM and put into a job specific talent pipeline for future engagement.

By simply putting this opt-in form in your apply flow for job distribution and for your Career Site, you are able to consistently and automatically build pipelines of talent. In coordination with the efforts of your sourcing team, you’re filling your CRM with a huge amount of data and potential qualified candidates to fill future jobs. And are creating a robust database of candidates that is solely yours that you can begin using to find the right candidates from a sourcing perspective as well as improve applicant flow through targeted email engagement when new opportunities open up.

Will this “extra” step increase candidate drop-off?

From A-B testing that we’ve conducted, the answer is “No”. Overall, there has been a negligible impact on candidate drop-off depending on if the form appears in the apply flow and if it does not. If nothing else, overall applicant flow has increased in instances where organizations engage back with candidates that don’t finish the full application process.

This is just like “Join Our Talent Community”, right?

Many organizations today have a “Join our Talent Community” or “Join our Talent Network” call-out on their Career Site to enable interested candidates to opt-in to future engagement and job communications from the employer. This call-out is typically a static link or button in the sidebar on every page of the Career Site. And while the concept is similar to the approach above, the overall effectiveness of this approach is much less than if you capture candidates directly in the apply flow.

As an example, a mid-size telecommunications organization that is leveraging both the “Join Our Talent Community” link (on all pages of their Career Site) and the job apply flow opt-in form is receiving only 5% of it’s contacts from the static page link and 95% of it’s contacts from the job apply flow.

Technology and the Candidate Experience

When looking to build your own Talent Network, I encourage you to focus on the technology you utilize as well as the overall flow from a candidate’s perspective.

I won’t go too deeply into the technology but I would encourage you to look at your current systems to see if you have these capabilities already. Technologies such as Recruitment Marketing Platforms, Job Distribution, SEO Career Sites and CRM can provide different levels of functionality to help you capture, engage and ultimately convert these recruiting contacts from the investments you are already making (i.e. directly in the apply flow). And it’s important to understand the process flows of these systems and how they integrate with your ATS both from a candidate capture and candidate experience standpoint.

For the candidate experience, it’s important to map out what the flow should look like while measuring its impact on candidate capture, drop-off and applicant flow. There are a number of decisions you need to make including:

  • How much information should we ask for via the job apply flow opt-in form?
  • Do we make it required or allow candidates to skip?
  • Do we require candidates to create an account for the Talent Network as well as for the application?
  • How do we communicate to candidates after they opt-in? How about when they opt-in and finish the application? Or when they opt-in and don’t finish the application?
  • Do you enable candidates to opt-in through existing social profiles? Does this provide you with enough information?

In general, the answers to these questions will positively and negatively affect candidate drop-off and there has to be a happy medium between capturing enough information to make decisions on candidates and making the process easier for them.

We have seen organizations doing different variations on this but the most common is making the opt-in optional (70% of candidates will fill form out when presented with option) with no account sign-up. Companies also typically leverage custom forms and communications for different candidate populations. This enables them to set up different forms for different jobs so they can capture integral information specific to that group of candidates (think programming languages for developers.) helping them better evaluate and engage with candidates that opt-in.

Your Own Talent Database

By combining the efforts of your sourcing team alongside your existing recruitment marketing investments, you end up with a talent database that is really valuable. One that consistently grows with every job ad or sourcing campaign you initiate while enabling you to better engage with candidates to capture integral information and to remain top of mind when they think about their next opportunity.

And if utilized correctly, you have a talent database populated by candidate contacts that you know better and that know and respect your organization. And this provides your sourcing team an extremely valuable first source to utilize when finding qualified talent for any new open job requisition.

*Based on an aggregated view of SmashFly user data.

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