By Peter Weddle
These are tough times. All of us need to be as thrifty and productive as possible. Not only because it's the right thing to do for our employers, but because it's the right thing to do for us, as well. If we want to hang onto our jobs, even as our employers dramatically scale back on hiring, we're going to have to use every resource we have to its optimum effect.
That's why a recent Online Sourcing Survey conducted by TalentDrive is so disturbing. It found that almost two-thirds (64%) of the employers represented by the survey's participants did not know how many qualified candidates were in their own ATS databases. These organizations had undoubtedly spent tens of thousands and, in some cases, even millions of dollars connecting with the talent whose resumes they now stored, and yet those prospective candidates were largely still unknown to them. To put it in the starkest possible terms, their ATS database was a wasted asset.
So, what's the alternative?
We have to stop treating our ATS databases as a static stack of digital documents and start using them as a platform for building relationships with candidates. Now, I know that I've expressed this view before, so why do it again now. Because in tough times, a wasted asset is likely to get the responsible party--and that would be us--thrown into their employer's waste bin or what most of us call termination.
Yes, yes, I've heard all the rationales for why this happens. I know that recruiting teams are running so far below normal staffing levels that there's simply no one available to do the work involved. I know that this is also a non-traditional activitity--isn't sourcing or recruiting, at least as those roles are currently defined--so it doesn't fit nicely into anyone's job description. But here's the rub: these are abnormal, non-traditional times, and we will either adapt to their requirements or we will suffer the consequences.
That means we have to achieve a better return on the investment that we made--not in procuring our applicant tracking system--but in pumping up its database. In other words, we must implement a program that will enable us to fill more of our openings from talent we have previously sourced rather than from individuals we must source anew (or again). Every requirement we can satisfy with the candidates in our resume database represents a savings in the cost of advertising and/or the cost of time required to deploy our sourcers. In other words, filling a vacancy from our database can generate real and measurable savings in both cost-per-hire and time-to-fill. That's the closest you'll ever come to a security blanket in tough times.
How do you achieve that goal?
Implement a communications campaign that is designed to leverage every applicant's initial interest in your organization. They made the effort to apply for one or more of your openings, so tell them that you intend to make the effort to get to know them better. To be successful, however, this campaign must be positioned as a two-way street, a dialogue rather than a soliloquy. It shouldn't be only you talking to them about how great your employer is or only them sending you an unending stream of updates on their employment qualifications.
The best approach is to create an interaction that provides value to both parties. You want to pre-sell them on your employer as a great place to work and acquire additional data about them to help you achieve your goal of putting the right talent in the right opening. They want to know about other vacancies in your organization for which they may be qualified and acquire additional information about your employer that will help them achieve their goal of putting their talent to work in the right place for them.
So, promise them that you will deliver the value they want--for example, you might offer them an “early opportunity system” (i.e., they get pre-advertising notice of any new opening in your organization for which they are qualified) as well as more information about your organization's culture and values--if they will provide what you want--updates on their qualifications and their participation in a “candidate referral system” (i.e., they notify you of employment prospects who might be right for other openings that you may have).
These communications should be regular--no less than once a month--but not intrusive--no more than twice a month. They are not corporate memos or marketing collateral, so they should be written in a friendly, conversational style and be free of promotional hype and hoopla. Indeed, not everyone can write such copy, and even those who can, will take a while to get it done. To be successful, therefore, the communications campaign should not be viewed as just another “additional duty” that is imposed on everyone whether they are capable or have the time to accomplish it. It must, instead, be viewed as a key talent acquisition initiative and staffed accordingly.
Over time, this two-way exchange will enhance familiarity and trust between your recruiting team and the applicants whose resumes are stored in your database. Those two factors are the pillars of genuine recruiting relationships. They enable you to transform your resume database from a static stack of useless documents into a reservoir of talent that is pre-screened, pre-sold and prepared to be considered for your employment opportunities. That's an asset any organization would be pleased to have and, therefore, equally as loath to lose those who created it.
Thanks for reading,
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