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7 Keys to a Successful Candidate Nurture Campaign

7 Keys to a Successful Candidate Nurture Campaign

As recruiting trends towards marketing, incorporating successful inbound marketing strategies is becoming the standard. Smart companies know that the customers who are currently interested in purchasing their product aren’t their only valuable customers. It’s important to make the sale today, of course, but it’s also important to have future customers lined up who will be ready to close a deal tomorrow. Smart recruiters apply the same logic to candidates.

A healthy recruitment strategy includes nurture campaigns to prepare passive candidates to become your future employees. “The majority of people – 75% – are passive candidates, who could be tempted to apply for a new job if the right opportunity came along” says Vaida Vaitekunaite, product development manager at Candarine. “Even if you aren’t recruiting for certain roles right now, creating an inbound talent pipeline means you will have hundreds more resumes on file than taking the reactive approach to recruitment.” By nurturing candidate leads before you need them, you have a much larger pool of contacts who can become applicants once you need to fill a suitable position.

Especially in the modern job market, where having a career-long tenure at a single company is no longer the norm for many American workers, it is important to always be prepared to need to fill a position. In a 2015 iCIMS study surveying 2,092 adults across the USA, 41% of respondents had changed employers within the last three years and 43% said that they were looking for a new job in 2015. Higher employee turnover creates a demand, in turn, for increased hiring. Having a pipeline of passive talent ready prepares your company to smoothly manage an employee’s exit.

How to run a Successful Candidate Nurture Campaign

There are a number of things that contribute to a nurture campaign. We broke it down for you into seven keys to a successful nurture campaign!

1. Make it easy for candidates to open the conversation.

According to SmashFly’s 2015 Recruitment Marketing Report Card for the Fortune 500, 27% of companies in the Fortune 500 allow candidates to join their talent network without applying. Those companies understand the benefit of developing a talent network from which they can pull talent to fill positions quickly, easily, and efficiently in the future.

Allowing passive candidates to join your company’s talent network isn’t enough. You must also promote the talent network, so that passive candidates know that it’s an option. In a 2015 iCIMS whitepaper, 64% of job seekers surveyed were not aware that some companies have talent pools or talent communities where you can receive company updates, job alerts, and other announcements even if there are no job openings.

Make it both obvious that passive candidates are welcome and easy to join your talent network by strategically using CTAs on your career site and company website. Make it as simple initially as signing up with just a name and email address, and then gather more information in later communications.

2. Collect candidates from all sources.

Research by Glassdoor and SmashFly found that 74% of candidates don’t finish their applications when they apply online. Aside from what this may mean for the potential benefits of streamlining your initial application process and getting to the first interview or fifteen minute phone interview sooner, it also means that your applicant tracking system (ATS) is a good source of passive candidates for your talent network.

Don’t simply dismiss incomplete applications — save the contact information from those applications and add those candidates to your talent network. If you nurture them properly, you might be who they think of when they are ready to commit to making the leap with a new job.

3. Don’t overlook the potential of short-term nurture.

Don’t be satisfied with just adding candidates from incomplete applications to your talent network for long-term nurturing. Some of them may be almost ready to make the leap already, so try giving them a little extra nudge.

The Cheesecake Factory used short-term nurturing to nurture some candidates into completing their applications, with great success. Their automated candidate nurturing system sends an email reminder to candidates who don’t finish their application within two days. In 2014, the organization made 182 hires out of almost 1,000 candidates that were reminded to complete an application by that automated system.

That example shows both the power of nurturing candidates, even in the short-term, as well as the great value of automated candidate nurture systems. With an automated system, no candidates slip through the cracks and you also don’t have to redirect the efforts of your recruiters to doing follow-up tasks that can be completed effectively by a computer.

4. Share relevant content.

Send your passive candidates content and resources that they might find helpful and you’ll make a positive impression. “The more targeted you can get with the content, messaging and jobs you send talent network leads, the more seamless and valuable it will be for them” says Elyse Mayer, Content Manager at Smashfly Technologies. You should know what sorts of candidates you are interested in. Create personas for each major type of ideal candidate to help you better extrapolate what types of content would interest them.

You can also extend that beyond targeted materials and to materials shared on the company blog or social media channels. “When planning your publishing schedule, consider job candidates as a potential audience and develop resources that these individuals would find helpful” says Tracy Lewis, talent director at PR 20/20. “By integrating marketing and human resources, you can better get in front of top professionals when they are looking for job-related information—without the need for expensive advertising or the hiring of head hunters.”

Mix in company-specific information along with the content that’s purely of interest to the candidate. “Keep candidates in the loop about new opportunities that match their skillset, major company news (e.g. funding) and relevant events (e.g. graduate hiring fairs)” says Ben Slater, VP of Growth at Beamery. Employee stories now and then can also be a fun way of giving passive candidates a taste of your company’s culture and a glimpse at the the great coworkers they could have if they join your team.

5. Think outside of the box.

Email campaigns aren’t the only way to nurture candidates. Lewis recommends communicating with passive candidates via social media for light contact, to keep your company on their minds. She also recommends holding informational interviews, even when you aren’t actively recruiting, to get to know your candidates a bit better and let them get to know you. Encourage candidates to keep you in the loop as their careers progress.

6. Analyze and Optimize.

You use performance metrics and analytics to inform your actions in other areas of business and recruiting is no different. Track things like email open rates, click-throughs for various links in your emails, conversions from emails, and so on to see what’s working and what isn’t. “Ultimately, the key to optimising your inbound recruiting machine is finding a repeatable model” says Slater. “You need to know what kind of content helps you connect with talented people and start producing more of it.” Swinging in the dark is never the best strategy.

7. Be aggressive enough, when the time comes.

In a 2015 iCIMS study, 78% of people surveyed said they would be open to pursuing a new opportunity if a recruiter reached out about a role that was a good match for them, even if they were not actively looking for a new position. Don’t falsely assume that being actively employed means that a candidate would not consider leaving to work for your company, instead. Reach out to all talent in your network who are qualified for a job opening.

Bon-Ton, a department store chain, used email nurture campaigns to build talent pools to meet seasonal hiring needs for the busy Thanksgiving season. “In regions that weren’t receiving enough applicants to fill open seasonal positions, the company launched a geo-focused email campaign to send information about the benefits of working with Bon-Ton during the holidays to both passive and active job seekers in the area” says Colin Day, founder and CEO of iCIMS. The campaign, which also featured graphics showcasing the employee brand and providing details about available positions, was a success.

The key to success in recruiting, like in so many other things, is planning ahead. “Just because you don’t need to hire today, doesn’t mean that you won’t tomorrow” says Lewis. A strong pipeline with a good mix of active and passive talent, nurtured properly, can make filling open positions at your company much easier, faster, cheaper, and all around more efficient.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Danai Kadzere

Danai is a Content Marketer at Happie. Before Happie, she worked as a freelance writer, ghostwriter, and children's book author, after graduating from Harvard University with a BS in Human Evolutionary Biology. If she's not working, she's probably reading, baking, or getting lost.

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