They research jobs in the same way as they would any other major purchasing decision – they have the resources to learn almost everything about your company before they even think about applying.
This is leading to a fundamental change in recruiting:
Now more than ever, the only way to win candidate’s hearts and minds is to focus on engagement and consistently deliver authentic and personalized experiences.
What is the Engagement Economy?
“The idea behind the “Engagement Economy” is simple but profound—we are living in a new era—a digital future where everyone and everything is connected.” – Steve Lucas, CEO at Marketo
No one likes being marketed to. It doesn’t matter if it’s email, online pop-ups, or flyers shoved through your postbox. Consumers aren’t stupid, they know when someone is trying to sell them something, and no one likes being sold to.
Today’s consumers want something different, they want to be engaged with:
The Engagement Economy, a term first coined by Marketo, describes the new world we live in. A world in which consumers have grown tired of traditional marketing tactics and crave genuine engagement, a world that has seen a fundamental shift in the relationship between brands and their customers.
Success in the Engagement Economy is all about building personalized, authentic relationships with consumers and driving value for them during every interaction.
Consumers expect companies to communicate with them in the way that they want, across the channels that they want, at the frequency that they want.
As a result, we’re seeing a rise in businesses that prize engagement. Increasingly, the companies that own real estate in consumer minds are the ones that obsess about creating a better experience for consumers; think Airbnb, Uber, Amazon.
Companies that won’t transform should take a look at this sobering statistic. Since 2000, 52% of the companies listed on the Fortune 500 have either gone bankrupt, been acquired, or cease to exist. Failing to adhere to the Engagement Economy could lead to a few more casualties…
So how does this apply to recruiting?
Candidates expect the same treatment as consumers. They want relevant engagement from companies based on where they are in the candidate journey, and what the kind of role that they’re actually interested in. They want the same level of personalization that they receive from sophisticated marketing departments.
It’s about creating experiences for candidates that feel real, human and authentic. It’s about building relationships with people, not just processing resumes.
Successful candidate engagement starts long before someone is ready to click apply, some of the most important work that a modern recruiting department can do is to educate the market on their employer brand and their EVP.
Engagement is central to every stage of the candidate journey – from education, all the way through to advocacy (where happy candidates advocate on behalf of your company and encourage their network to apply.)
The diagram below illustrates what successful recruiting in the Engagement Economy looks like. Let’s explore this process:
First impressions count. When meeting someone for the first time, research suggests we build an impression of them within the first 7 seconds. This can obviously change, but often it’s pretty deeply entrenched.
By this rationale, it’s safe to say that by the time someone is ready to apply for a job, they have a pretty clearly defined impression of your brand. If they’ve applied, it’s likely that their impression is pretty positive – this is then cemented or destroyed by their treatment at the hands of your recruiting team!
In the Engagement Economy, candidates use content, online reviews, and social media to research companies, build out this early impression and decide whether they want to learn more or apply.
This is not necessarily a linear process. Candidates consume content based on what they’re doing at the time, and what they fancy reading, not how you draw it out on a storyboard.
Companies need to keep every channel actively maintained to ensure that wherever candidates look to educate themselves, they can find information that is useful and engage with people at that company.
“Active maintenance” means that a member of your team is responsible for joining relevant conversations, responding to reviews and messages, and giving candidates an attractive preview of the work environment, culture, and available opportunities at your company.
You can’t rely on one form of media or content here. Omni-channeling engagement at this stage is crucial, as different types of candidates will look to different types of content for education.
The way companies think about the acquisition of candidates is traditionally pretty binary; someone either applies, or they don’t.
Recruitment marketing initiatives are therefore usually judged on the number of applications that they create.
There’s a key issue here. As we’ve discussed, not only does the education component of the candidate journey starts long before the application, but formal relationships can start long before someone is ready to click apply too.
Whether it’s through conversations on social media, registering in a talent network, or attending one of your events, there are multiple ways that companies can start relationships with candidates that don’t involve an application.
Not all relationships come to fruition immediately. Many candidates aren’t ready to apply when you speak to them and must be engaged over time to keep them warm for future roles.
This all means that when companies think about candidate “acquisition”, they should take a long term view. A relationship started today could lead to a world class hire a few years from now.
With this in mind, we wanted to introduce the idea of candidate lifetime value (CLV):
Candidate lifetime value (CLV)
CPG brands (consumer-packaged-goods, e.g. Pepsi) invest huge capital in customer acquisition as they rationalize that once they’ve won a customer, they’ll be a customer for life. This is typically pretty effective – once people “pick” a brand of deodorant or toothpaste, they rarely switch.
The “lifetime value” of a customer then, can be pretty significant to a business. In fact, it’s one of the key ways that Venture Capital funds judge hotshot startups.
This metric is also highly applicable to recruiting – it’s time for companies to start quantifying the lifetime value of a candidate.
Like in the consumer marketing sphere, many brands make investments in building relationships with candidates at a young age. Campus recruiting events, brand ambassador roles, internships – it’s all designed to capture a student’s attention and convince them that your company is a good fit.
Typically though, these investments are judged by the number of applications that they create each year.
With society’s approach to work changing rapidly, and with people moving jobs far more regularly, we’d suggest that this is not the way to measure success. Just because a candidate doesn’t apply immediately doesn’t mean they won’t in the future.
The goal of your recruitment marketing programs should be to build a following of candidates that at some point may consider working at your company.
It’s the role of recruiting departments to engage and build continual value with this talent pool to foster positive brand association across a company’s target demographics.
When thinking about the lifetime value of a candidate then, taking a long term view is essential. Investments made in recruitment marketing programs should be judged on more than immediate upticks in applications (although this is can be a good indicator of success).
We need to think about the lifetime value of creating a positive, new relationship with a candidate. There’s the potential for this person to add more and more value to your company; as an applicant, star employee, referrer, and advocate.
The candidate experience is central to the Engagement Economy.
Candidates receive highly personalized interactions when they engage with your company’s marketing department; they’re starting to expect the same from recruiters.
Happy candidates are the ones that are most likely to advocate on behalf of your brand. They’re the ones that will encourage family and friends to apply, they’ll share positive feedback online, they’ll re-apply again in the future if you reject them.
In an age where review sites like Glassdoor carry significant weight, having someone willing to sing your praises is invaluable. Candidates in the earlier, “education” phase of the process reference these sites extensively, so building a strong base of online feedback significantly improves your chance of acquiring more top talent.
Combined with effective employee advocacy, candidate advocacy helps you create an army of people that admire your brand and can envision themselves working for you. Everyone has a few companies in the back of their mind that they’d love to work for – this is the best way to make sure that you’re on that list.
Recruitment marketing: the free course
For anyone looking to take the next step as a recruitment marketer, we’ve created a free 10-day email course. It’s stuffed full of tactics, tools and advice to turn you and your team into marketing experts.
You can get your hands on our new email course here. Space is limited, but you can save your spot (and find out more) by clicking the shiny green button below: