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Google “employer branding” and you’ll find an endless list of articles on the shift to a candidate-driven market and why it’s crucial to attracting top talent. What the articles won’t say: The impression you’re creating isn’t the end of the game. No amount of amazing marketing will make a product successful if the user experience doesn’t follow through. When I think about building a strong talent community, I think about personalizing the experience a potential candidate has with our interview process and within our company.
In the age of Glassdoor, the experience you provide to candidates and prospects quickly becomes part of your employer brand. Candidates will relate how you treat them during the interview process to how they will be treated as an employee, and they will talk about it. That relayed experience can either attract great candidates to your process or turn them away.
If you can create such a positive candidate experience that someone wants to refer their friend after getting rejected, you're doing something right in my book. I’ve been happy to see this happen frequently at YipitData. Here are my tips for personalizing your process to create strong relationships with talent:
Be proactive and honest in your communication
Make it a goal to respond to emails as soon as possible (within 24 hours during the week) and provide updates frequently. Candidates will appreciate honesty—it’s better to reach out and say you don’t have a new update than to leave someone hanging for a few days without hearing back.
Proactively personalizing your communication will also go a long way in building a positive relationship. As a one-person recruiting team here at YipitData, I rely heavily on templated emails to streamline my process and view them as an opportunity to make the conversation more personal. The template email is already written for you, so dropping in a personalized line makes a big difference.
Immerse candidates in your company culture
When I interviewed at YipitData, I felt impressed by how each of the interviewers spoke the language of their culture and exuded pride in their work. I left the interviews with a strong sense of who YipitData is. By ensuring that your process embodies your values, you give the candidate confidence in their interest and create a stronger connection with them. If they don't work out this time around, it will be easier to pick back up months or even years down the line because they are more likely to remember that personal connection they've had with your values. I accomplish this through giving office tours, creating structured interviews that assess for our values and creating a check list of topics that candidates should be well versed in before receiving offers.
Follow up and keep in touch over time
Sometimes timing with a candidate just isn’t quite right. Maybe they are a strong values fit but don’t have enough experience, or you’ve just filled the role but still have good candidates in the pipeline. In both cases, you’ll want to end the interview process in a way that maintains a positive relationship and keeps the candidate excited to re-engage in the future. If you have followed the first tip well, this should be easy! Connecting with a potential future candidate on LinkedIn will help you keep up-to-date on how their experience is progressing (a tool called Rapportive lets you do this without even leaving Gmail). Setting follow-up reminders in Greenhouse will take the guess work out of managing that relationship as they gain experience and new roles open up.
Follow-ups don’t have to occur when you are hiring again or when you think the candidate is ready for a move. Set a follow-up for a month or two later just to check in and see how their search or new job is going. Maintaining this positive relationship often results in candidates being excited to hear from you once timing lines up and can even expand your pipeline. This past month I reached out to a candidate we had spoken to several months ago and, although she was not ready for a move, she happily referred a friend who was looking.
Always iterate and listen to feedback
A huge part of our culture at YipitData is to experiment with new approaches and always look for ways to improve. I am certainly not perfect at upholding all of this advice and always look for ways to iterate on the way we manage the process. One bad review on Glassdoor won’t make or break your ability to attract top talent, but it is a great resource to check how you’re doing and make improvements. Utilizing the Greenhouse candidate surveys will also help you benchmark how you’re doing against other companies.
This can all be a lot to manage for any team. As the only person managing our recruiting process, I find that personalizing the experience is the best use of my time, because it ultimately achieves a lot of these goals. To do this, I have no time to get bogged down in process and details. HR tech like Greenhouse is a lifesaver in smoothing out candidate relationship management. You will be well-served to take full advantage of customizing and personalizing your process in Greenhouse. Build out your email templates and your interview plans so you can knock out simple tasks quickly, leave thorough notes on candidate profiles, and be thoughtful when setting up reminders so that checking in can be genuine and personal. When you focus on a personalized experience, you soon build up a loyal community of talent who are advocates and fans of your recruiting brand!
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