What Recruiters Can Learn From Lifecycle Marketing

September 19, 2016 at 6:07 AM William Clarke

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Like any business so reliant on people, recruiting is difficult at scale. Shortcuts like mass emailing hundreds of candidates rarely works for the hardest to fill roles and can wind up hurting more than it helps.

The challenge is that each and every role you recruit for requires a specific, unique set of skills, experience and personality traits. Finding candidates that tick each of those boxes takes strategy. Every step of the recruiting funnel ought to be a highly thoughtful, impactful experience for a candidate. A one size fit all solution just won’t cut it.

It’s imperative for recruiters to maximize the value of each candidate touch point, not just to ensure that they have a positive candidate experience, but also to guarantee that you’re able to make the best hires by finding out as much about them and their work habits as possible.

The concept of lifecycle marketing is a relatively old one, but it offers useful insights for recruiters looking to deliver outstanding candidate experiences, strengthen their employer brands, and help create stellar company cultures. Here’s how adapting concepts from lifecycle marketing can help you and your team recruit better.

Much of lifecycle marketing boils down to creating effective business strategies to attract people, grow a customer base, and continually deliver a positive experience to clients. The same can be done for recruiting.

Map Out Your Candidate Cycle

There are four distinct product lifecycle phases, each representing a moment in the product’s public life and how that impacts marketing strategies:  

  • Introduction – Promotion of product
  • Growth – Increase of product adoption and sales
  • Maturity – Peak of sales and increase in marketing competition
  • Decline – Decline in product demand and sales and increase in competitive pressure

If you’re figuring how to optimize your hiring, the first place to start is with your hiring process, and the first question you need to answer: How many stages do you have?

It probably looks something like this: Sourcing → Initial Outreach → Phone Screen → On Site → Offer

Breaking down your hiring cycle into stages segments your process and lets you evaluate each stage. This allows you to understand how each stage requires different strategies and execution to successfully move on fit candidates. Always calibrate your approach for each stage since the objectives will vary.

Treat Candidates Like Customers

Step one is to think about your candidates like customers. This allows recruiters to better deliver the kind of experiences that drive candidates to interview, consider and eventually accept a position.

Just like customers, the key to persuading candidates is to focus on the value opportunity. What does a particular position at your organization offer to them? Besides compensation, most candidates care primarily about your organization’s culture, the stability offered, and the degree of transparency. In other words, at least half of your “product” is your company culture and employer brand.

The ultimate goal of lifecycle marketing is to create more efficient, impactful customer touch points to build a strong brand and customer relationship to drive sales. The entire hiring process should be focused on selling your candidates on the role’s characteristics, doling out the nitty-gritty in increments with the goal of gradually peaking their interest.

Know the Market, and Know Your Data

Would Apple have ever created an iPhone without knowing that millions of people would want one? Absolutely not. You can’t ever go to market without extensive research and development. Who are your target consumers (candidates)? What are their backgrounds, experiences or personalities? Hiring managers will want all kinds of skill sets and experiences (a Ph.D. in Data Science from Stanford, 10 years at Google leading a team, and knowledge of at least 10 coding languages). A recruiter needs to be the realist in the room. They need to know what the job market looks like and be able to set expectations and calibrate the search search accordingly.

Make projections based on desired qualifications. Every hire requires a number of candidates at the top of the funnel. The search process should be calibrated in a way that targets that number of qualified candidates. As you backtrack through your hiring funnel, know how many candidates you’ll need to contact to get to 20 phone screens, five in-person interviews and one offer. By tracking backwards, you can make reasonably accurate projections mapping out a host of metrics like the amount of time it takes between sourcing and hiring candidate, or which stage of the hiring process takes the longest.

Customize Your Outreach

In recruiting, the equivalent of the introductory phase is the initial outreach. This is your first touchpoint, and if you screw it up, you may not get another chance with that candidate. It’s absolutely crucial that you shake them out of their indifference by making a positive impression. The best way to do that is to create an emotional connection that will drive them to respond to you.

Your subject line and message has to be on point and it can’t feel generic. Create multiple versions for different types of candidates. That’s what effective marketers do. You should never be blasting out one message to a hundred people. All the extra time you put into developing a concise, effective message and then A/B testing based on your results will pay off down the road. Take the same approach with each follow-up message until you get a reply. The key is to be persistent yet thoughtful. That’s what will stand out to candidates.  

Tell the Story of What Makes You Special

Every product needs a good story that people can connect with. Recruiters can tell their stories in a few different ways. One is by establishing your employer brand and company culture with great content that is easy to find for candidates. Put your people front and center with photos, testimonials, blog posts and other media. Show off the work your people do, the fun they have, and how they impact the world. Anyone who looks at your Instagram feed, Facebook page or careers page should think, “Wow, they look like a great company!” and easily imagine themselves at your organization.

Emphasize your organization’s unique value during your outreach. What can you say about your organization that differentiates you and sells your appeal to a candidate? Have you just moved into a new office? Are you growing rapidly? Do you have a diverse leadership team and promote from within? Link the values of your organization with the people who make is and explain how those values are contributing to the organization’s success. The more authentic and convincing you are, the more people will want to come work with you.

Make the Role and Company Easy to “Buy”

Different consumers want different products based on their lifestyles, income levels, cultural backgrounds and needs. Candidates are exactly the same. You have to be able to appeal to candidates based on their specific desires, interests, dreams and ambitions.

All of the most innovative companies in the world are building inclusive company cultures, benefits systems and work structures to nurture a diverse workforces employees professional growth.

Would Coca Cola ever write off an entire segment of the population? Not in a million years. That’s why you should structure your hiring process in a way that works for people with all types of family structures, ages, and work situations. Avoid excessive in-person interviews or overly long phone screens or questionnaires that require an hour of your candidate’s time just to apply online. Whether they are parents, or hourly employees without paid time off, the idea is to make it as easy as possible for someone to jump on the phone with you, come for an interview without needing to hire a babysitter or apply for a job without jumping through 13 hoops. The more welcoming and accommodating your process the more applicants you’ll get. It’s that simple.

That means delivering the right information to the right people at the right time to drive conversions. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is, as long as you pay attention to your data.

Dig Into Your Data

Every modern recruiter’s goal should be to optimize every channel and every phase via data-centric analysis. The best recruiters constantly look at data and performance metrics so that they know what works, and what doesn’t.

Start at the bottom of the funnel with people you’ve hired over the past year and work backwards. This helps you figure of points of failure, identify efficiencies, and get a better idea of how your funnel operates. It helps you know where improvement is most needed and what you’re already doing really well.

Note where there is an absence of data. If you’re not really sure why certain salespeople people turned down your job offers, that’s a huge blind spot. Make sure your process is organized in a way that collects feedback from candidates, recruiters, hiring managers and any other participants. That feedback provides the insights that allow you to improve your process at each stage of the recruiting cycle. It also allows you to better calibrate your efforts to align with other stakeholders within the organization.

Timing is Everything

Much of what we accomplish comes down to timing, especially in recruiting. So when you’re interacting with candidates, always remember where you are in the sales funnel, and calibrate your outreach appropriately. The more targeted you are with your communications, the more effective your communications will be, which means stronger impact and better relationships.

Optimizing touch points allows recruiters to provide better value to candidates. It’s that simple. In practice, that means contacting more receptive candidates with opportunities they are more likely to be interested in. This will have dramatic and positive effects on your hiring metrics and fill up your hiring funnel quicker than you’ll ever imagine.  

How else are you working to improve your team’s relationships with candidates to refine your hiring processes?

Recommended articles:

Why Transparency Builds a Positive Candidate Experience
What Happens When You Standardize Your Interview Process
How Collaboration, Integrity and Grit Power Entelo’s Sales Tea

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