Talent is scarce and competition is fierce. One way of getting ahead of the game is to create strong connections with candidates, even before a job opening has come up. We take a look at the benefits of proactive candidate engagement, and talk you through some ways to get started.
What’s the problem?
It’s hard to find top talent. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) recently found that 77% of the organisations it surveyed experienced difficulty attracting candidates. Recruiting for senior and skilled roles was the most challenging, with 26% having difficulties attracting low-skilled candidates.
On top of that, workforce planning leaves much to be desired in many organisations. The same CIPD survey found that 30% of organisations don’t look beyond six months in terms of recruitment. That leaves recruiters and TAs having to respond to last-minute requests, being asked to conjure up quality candidates out of thin air.
What is proactive candidate engagement and how can it help?
Put simply, proactive candidate engagement is sourcing candidates before a job is even open. It’s about staying ahead of hiring demands to nurture candidates – both active and passive job seekers. Then when a job opens up, you already have a pool of engaged, talented potential candidates to call upon.
When it comes to senior leadership positions, proactively engaging candidates has been a common strategy for a long time. But not so much for lower and middle-level roles.
That’s all changing. Being proactive pays off and passive candidate sourcing accounts for 75% of hires. In fact, according to a LinkedIn survey, 85% of recruiting professionals believe engaging passive candidates will matter even more in five years.
Why you need to proactively engage candidates to secure the best talent.
Establish a talent pipeline
Let’s start with the obvious. Proactively engaging candidates, including passive candidates, means you’re not starting from scratch the second a job opens up. You’ll already have built a strong relationship with potential candidates, and know whose skill set and experience best fits a role.
But it also means that from the candidate’s point of view, they already have an understanding of the organisation and be open to hearing about roles that are right for them. Crucially, if you’ve built that relationship well, they will trust you and be receptive to potential opportunities. All in all, it means better hires in less time.
Improve candidate experience
In a competitive job market, a positive candidate experience can be the difference between filling a role or paying out for a costly re-run. According to one study, 49% of job seekers have declined a job offer due to poor experience.
Proactive engagement improves the experience for candidates. Both candidates and recruiters will have had the time to develop a relationship, without the pressure of a specific recruitment deadline. The candidate will have had the time to leisurely reflect on whether the company is a good fit for them, and vice versa.
Increase your competitive edge
Proactive recruiting allows you to decrease your time-to-hire. That in itself will give you a competitive edge – candidates who are left hanging around are more likely to get snapped up elsewhere. But the time you’ve taken to get to know the candidate will have helped them to build invaluable trust and confidence in your organisation, making them more likely to pursue an application.
How to build strong relationships with prospective candidates
Sound good so far? Here are three practical ways to start building those all-important relationships.
Have honest conversations
When there’s not a specific role in play, it can be easier to get to know someone and for them to get to know you. Honest conversations about what they find appealing – and not so appealing – about your company can be helpful, as can open discussions about what they want their next role to be.
When a role does open up, you’ll have insight and leverage to adjust offerings to attract them. That could be tailoring elements of the job spec or providing the work/life flexibility that you know they’re after.
Start an Employee Referral Programme
Personal connections, through existing employees, are a great way to find strong cultural fits. If employees enjoy working at your organisation, it’s likely they’ll encourage people they know to join too. That’s especially true if you introduce incentives for employees who refer friends or ex-colleagues for a role.
Don’t go in with a hard sell
When you first reach out to someone, remember that you’re building a relationship, not giving the hard sell. The focus needs to be on them. Find out about their skill set, experience and what they want out of their next role. Offer information about your company or share helpful industry research or news. Be helpful and go steady.
Recruiter on Demand: experts at building connections with candidates
At Recruiter on Demand, we’re experienced career connectors. Yes, we know how to find great talent. But we also know the value of taking the time to get to know them. Genuinely understanding candidates means we know if they’re a great fit for your company – whether for a role you’re recruiting for right now, or one you swiftly need to fill in the future.
Our experienced talent acquisition professionals are skilled at finding the best candidates using the latest sourcing techniques and technologies. Working as part of your team, they will help minimise the time needed to meet your hiring brief and reduce your team’s workload – right from day one.