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The Next Level: 3 Steps to Boosting Candidate Engagement Through Hyper-Personalization

Has the recruiting industry hit an inflection point of bad behaviors surrounding the job seeker experience? Well, maybe it’s not that bad — but sometimes it seems like it! You only have to search for #recruiterfail on Twitter to see examples candidates are sharing about their experiences with recruiters.

I am a software engineer and you want to talk to me about a sales job. Really?

That kind of thing is all too common. What unites these negative experiences? Job seekers regularly highlight the messages they receive from recruiters that are too impersonal, or simply not relevant.

But while these cautionary tales can be funny to read, they also reveal a persistent problem. Recruiters often aren’t treating candidates as people.  And considering that the conversation these days is all about using personalization in your messaging, this is pretty ironic.

But if the majority of recruiters agree that personalization is important, the question remains: What level of personalization should I use?  

Taking personalization to the next level

One of the questions that keeps my mind running at night is how to identify ways that Indeed’s global sourcing team can help enrich the job seeker experience. Since much of our focus is on outbound recruiting, we have started to look closely at candidate messaging, asking this question:

How can we enrich the job seeker experience through our messaging to create a high level of engagement and humanize the experience for those we recruit?

Our answer has been to go to the opposite end of the spectrum from “Recruiter Fail” type stories: We hyper-personalize our messaging.  What do we mean by this? We focus on a single intimate detail that is truly unique to the job seeker we are engaging.

Want to know more? We’ve implemented a 3-step framework to utilize hyper-personalization in our messaging that you can follow and implement today. Let’s take a look!

3 Steps to Hyper-Personalization

1) Start and open your message by focusing on that one intimate detail truly unique to that job seeker.

Here’s an example of how I did this while searching for an engineering leader. A few minutes Googling took me to the Twitter feed of a potential candidate I’ll call  “Armando“.

I took a few minutes to scroll through his feed and identified my hook for hyper-personalizing my message — he had published a “Year in Review” on Wunderlist highlighting a few of his achievements that year. His tweet was hearted and retweeted several times, which led me to believe this was his moment of Internet fame and a personal achievement he was sincerely proud of accomplishing.

So I thought: Why not celebrate that moment with him to help create a human-to-human connection?  

I reached out with a short note — no more than 50 words — to congratulate him. Then after my hyper-personalization, I pivoted to share the other reason I was contacting him. His response? “I normally don’t respond to recruiting emails but must admit this one is quite personalized.”

Now, I would love to say we hired him but that didn’t happen — this time. As with everything in life, timing is key. He wasn’t at the right point in his career to make a change. But when that time does come, who do you think he’ll remember? He wasn’t looking for a job, he didn’t need to reply — but he did.

2) Make a connection by sharing your “why” and demonstrate an authentic curiosity about their career journey.

Here’s another example, this time from Tris Revill on my team. In this instance he found a post from a potential candidate I’ll call “Alex” for a job on our sales team. The candidate had expressed an interest in the science of people and what ultimately influences the decisions they make everyday.

The candidate’s post resonated with Tris who recognized the similarity in interests between Indeed and the candidate, so he sent an email describing the parallel. His tone was casual and sincere: “Here at Indeed we love the science of people, we have labour economics teams looking at how people move around the world, user researchers who do ethnographic studies and a sales training team that can teach you crazy tricks when talking to prospects.”

How long did it take? A few minutes. And did it work? Yes. He was successful in winning the attention of a highly sought after person in a very competitive market. The result? We now have another new employee joining our already 5000+ strong team.

3) Have a clear call to action

Here’s the thing to remember. You can be as authentic as you want, but you also have to be clear about why it is that you’re writing. After all, an email from a complete stranger about your social media post might be flattering, but if you don’t include a call to action they’re going to miss the point.

This is a simple yet often overlooked strategy. If you’ve done this right, you should have their undivided attention. Now, what’s next?

Below are a few standard calls to action that my team uses.

  • I am assuming that we’d need to do something pretty compelling to pull you away from your current job. I think we are ready to do just that. Do you have 10 minutes to chat today?
  • I’m assuming you’re happy and may not be looking for anything new. Regardless, I’d love to connect on the phone to learn more about your career goals in case something changes in the future. Are you free this week to meet for coffee?

They work for us. Try them!

Keeping it real: Constraints, challenges and unanswered questions

OK, OK — I can hear some of you objecting: “I don’t have the time or enough available information to personalize every single message I send to job seekers, so how do I possibly scale this approach?”

Scalability is a challenge, it’s true.  Hyper-personalization requires a greater time commitment, and you have to work around a lack of information when crafting your messages. On top of that, different levels of personalization are required in different countries around the globe. For example, what works with with a job seeker in Japan will be different than in the US.

The reality is that the number of messages you’ll be able to send will decrease because you’ll be focused on quality over quantity. You’ll be tempted to send out that same template you already sent to the 50 other job seekers you are trying to recruit for to the same job when there’s a lack of information.

But put in the time and this approach will pay bigger dividends. In an era where we are constantly chasing efficiency and productivity, wouldn’t you want to work smarter vs harder?  

The vital importance of connection

Throughout my career, job seekers have told me that it’s not always about which recruiter contacted me first but which recruiter connected with me first.

Hyper-personalization guides you to focus on the job seeker and their career journey by arming you with the creative inspiration necessary to make a real human to human connection in an otherwise impersonal experience.

And with today’s globalization of labor markets, it could provide you with a major competitive advantage as a recruiter. In a fragmented, depersonalized world, making that real, human-to-human connection is what really helps you stand out.

Ed Delgado is Director of Global Sourcing at Indeed.

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About Mildred Blankson

I am a Human Resource Professional with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. I have several years of experience in Human Resources and i hope this blog will be a great resource in helping you find the perfect job or candidate that you seek.

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How to Leverage Company Benefits to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

One-third of organizations have increased their overall benefit offerings in 2016, according to a research report compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). As recruiting and retaining top talent continue to become increasingly difficult for employers, robust benefit packages play a key role. When salaries and perks (think: free lunch) are nearly equal from company to company, employees are likely to opt for the company that offers the best benefits and greatest opportunities.

Medical and financial benefits aside, employees are looking for lifestyle and career benefits. SHRM reported that the top reason employers increased benefits in 2016 was to remain competitive in the marketplace—and the three biggest focus areas for change were in the health (22%), wellness (24%), and professional and career development (16%) categories. Robust benefit packages that include career development, health and wellness, and flexible working options provide a platform for employers to stand out. Nearly one-third of employees look for external positions because they desire “overall better benefits,” second only to higher compensation.

The type of benefits you offer speaks volumes on how you treat and support employees, which always manifests by way of your external employer brand. It’s not enough to say “we have great benefits,” because “great benefits” are now table stakes. Companies have mastered the art of talking about perks, from catered lunches to team building activities. Failure to talk about the real support and development opportunities you offer to employees might translate to missed opportunities. So how can hiring managers and recruiters promote employee benefits to help with recruiting and retention?

#1: Kick “industry standard” out of your vocabulary

When recruiters and hiring managers list their company’s benefits and summarize with the catch-all phrase, we offer “industry standard” benefits, it’s not enough. When all else—compensation, vacation days, and perks—are even, offering a standard benefits package won’t help your company standout enough to secure commitment from a top employee. Even though it might be tempting to default to a quick response, it pays to provide more detail about the benefits your company offers, in length, during the interview process.

And even more importantly than providing a laundry list of benefits (but kudos to you for that list!), explain how these benefits fit in with core company values. For example, if you offer flexible work arrangements and flexible hours, explain that these arrangements support your company’s value of work-life balance. If you provide a gym membership or showers at work, talk about how it enhances company culture or creates opportunities for employees to get the exercise they desire in a convenient way.. When recruits begin to see how your benefits support their shared values and interests, they’ll see the benefits you offer are much greater than “industry standard.”

Employers hoping to keep a competitive edge are offering more than the “industry standard” at every stage of the employee journey, including at severance – according to a recent study by RiseSmart. If you’re on the cutting edge of severance offerings, use those benefits to differentiate your company form the competition.

#2: Talk about goals in the recruiting and interview process

Before an employee is even hired, find out what they’re looking for in their employer and what their short and long term goals are. Ask questions like, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and “How are you hoping your employer will support you along your career journey?” Employees, many of whom are seeking opportunities for career development and continuing education, need to know you plan to invest in their individual career goals.

A Career Builder survey found that 45% of employees, regardless of generation, plan to stay with their employer for less than two years. During their tenure, they expect to benefit and grow with each new role and and at each new company. It’s important to convey to prospective employees that you invest in each individual employee, regardless for how long they plan to stay in the role for which they are being hired.

#3: Amplify the employee voice

Remind employees early on that they have a voice to share about company culture and employee benefits. Glassdoor, for example, recommends employers invite new hires to reflect on their first few months at the company. Whether this leads to internal feedback or a public review, it can assist efforts aimed at creating a positive employer brand.

L’Oréal recently launched a #LifeatLoreal hashtag to encourage employees to share photos of their experiences at work. The campaign all stemmed from the idea that people would trust their peers on social media when it came to L'Oréal being a great place to work. Employees posted a wide variety of pictures, including snapshots of various benefits and perks in action—such as flex days and catered lunches. Encourage employees to share the experiences they enjoy the most on the social channel of their choice.

#4: Keep employees engaged with benefits

On average, salary is only about 70% of an employee’s total compensation. When employees don’t take advantage of the benefits offered by the company, it’s equivalent to leaving 30% of the total compensation package on the table. Employers who keep employees engaged with benefits are more likely to see benefits manifest as part of the employer brand. An employee is highly unlikely to leave a Glassdoor review that mentions a positive benefit if she has never actually utilized the benefit.

Try hosting monthly or quarterly Q&A sessions to discuss available benefits. When you roll out a particularly hefty benefit, such as a new 401K offering, or an update to parental leave policy, give employees ample opportunity to ask questions. You could also share success stories from employees who have taken advantage of a particularly niche benefit, such as an hour of free lawyer services, to showcase how the benefit is used and encourage other employees to check it out.

#5: Benefits are the forgotten negotiation tool

If you are a hiring manager or recruiter engaging with a candidate, think beyond salary, or equity. Everything is negotiable, from vacation days to health insurance choices. Savvy employees, especially as the war for talent continues to heat up, will use benefits as negotiation tools—but don’t shy away from doing the same thing on the employer side. It’s often easier to offer more benefits than to secure additional salary for an employee.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your full complement of benefits, including your severance benefits. Prospective employees may feel more comfortable about joining a company that will take care of them, in the event of a downsizing or restructuring event. You may want to consider offering perks like outplacement and career transition services to employees who leave voluntarily as well as those who are involuntary subjects of a layoff. Knowing that you are invested in their career, even after they leave, will help you create a workforce of dedicated, engaged, and satisfied employees.

The world is small and everyone is connected. When you invest in employees, it leads to a positive employer brand. In the new Employee Relationship Economy, former employees will someday become vendors, customers, brand evangelists, recruiting references, or even boomerang employees. In a world where the employee/employer relationship is no longer finite, it’s important to convey your full support for employees’ career endeavors at every stage of their career journeys -- beginning early in the recruiting and interview process.

In every recruiting conversation, highlight your dedication to each employee’s career. When you frame up your organization’s benefits in context of how they fit in with the employee’s journey, it’s easy for the candidate to see how your company would support his journey. Communication about employee benefits can go a long way in the recruiting process—and will have a direct impact on your employer brand. If you offer much more than “industry standard,” you should be screaming it from the rooftops. Your current and prospective employees deserve to understand just how committed you are to their personal and professional journey.

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