It’s Time to Get Req-less – The New Paradigm for Building the Candidate Pipeline
Traditionally, most companies start the talent acquisition process by opening a job requisition. Corporate recruiters and HR professionals work diligently with hiring managers to define job requisitions and post these openings to job boards as well as the company’s own online career site.
With rising unemployment numbers, more job seekers are heading online to search for employment, but unfortunately candidates are hitting a dead end because of the drastic reduction in open jobs (requisitions) that are available on corporate Web sites, and without any alternative method besides applying for a particular job, both candidates and hiring companies are losing out on an opportunity during this recession. In fact, according to the most recent National Online Recruitment Audience Survey (NORAS) the number of online job seekers has risen 50% over the last 12 months. However, as the economy continues to falter, hiring at many organizations is increasingly selective and anticipatory, forcing a ground-breaking paradigm shift in building the candidate pipeline.
As any historian will tell you, it’s only a matter of time until the economy begins to rebound and there will be a return in hiring. When the market comes back to life it might be too late for those companies that didn’t use the down time to cultivate prospect relationships, as the noise in the recruiting market will reverberate loudly making it harder than ever to market specific jobs to matching prospects.
Building your pipeline
How can companies better prepare for hiring resurgence and build their talent pipelines without open positions and reliance on expensive job boards? One way is to get “req-less.” Pursue alternative means to capture active and passive job candidates by leveraging search engine optimization (SEO) and the ways in which people search for jobs. And you can do this along with capturing prospective candidate interest in a talent community. This approach provides job seekers with the ability to subscribe to a company’s jobs (even if there aren’t any open positions) while enabling the company to build a pipeline of talent, even if they don’t have any open jobs.
Integrating an SEO strategy
Employers who integrate SEO into their interactive recruiting strategy will gain a competitive advantage because today’s job seeker isn’t just looking on Monster.com or Indeed.com, which are models that rely on job postings to drive candidate acquisition alone. When you consider that there are over 200 million job-related searches per month on Google alone, you begin to understand the powerful shift that is happening as candidates use the search engines to find career opportunities. Since a job posting will only rarely get ranked highly on the major search engines, employers have to think differently about how to use search engines for recruiting.
While search engines are being used dramatically more for employment-related searches, it doesn’t do a whole lot of good if the organization cannot be found by a quick and simple search. In fact, if you use Google to search for jobs you will mostly see that only job boards are “search engine optimized.” This is because they know this is the number one way to attract talent to their site online. Employers should take note of this along with noticing that the job boards have also developed targeted landing pages for every search combination that job seekers might perform. These pages stay online (even if there aren’t any jobs in them) and Google “ranks” these pages highly because they remain online and are a direct match for the hiring targets they are seeking.
Although many companies have an applicant tracking solution (ATS) that powers the data capture and search-and-apply function on their career site, it still requires a requisition as the starting point and is unlikely to be found via a major search engine. This is because the jobs are not keyword-optimized for logical searches that will drive meaningful results for recruiting efforts. However, when a site is optimized, job seekers can search for terms that would bring them directly to the corresponding company’s career site. For example, a search for “Seattle Software Developer Jobs” would return results for all of Microsoft’s developer jobs, which would bring them directly to Microsoft’s career site, rather than forcing the candidate to search through job board postings.
By driving prospective candidates directly to the career site, companies can not only exponentially grow their candidate pool but they can also capture talent directly instead of competing for shared candidates that come from the job boards. This approach increases the number of people directed to a specific destination within a site. It also delivers a better candidate experience because candidates land directly on the page which contains the job content they were interested in versus forcing them to re-search for jobs from your careers home page.
A talent-targeted SEO solution will indicate what keywords and source delivered every candidate to the career site, along with what keywords they used to search and find your site. Even if there are no open positions posted on the job landing page, the page stays online permanently and helps capture interest from both passive and active candidates. Those active candidates are important because they are online today and even thought they don’t see any specific jobs open, they are willing to hear about future jobs via email or RSS feeds. This allows you to recruit them in the future when jobs are automatically matched and emailed to them from your ATS system.
Backing into a strategic plan
This type of recruiting does force employers to know what their hiring needs will be in the upcoming year (and possibly beyond) so that they can launch a strategic network of targeted talent landing pages. A good SEO vendor can assist with determining how to build, launch and manage this strategy.
Once you’ve begun this approach – of building your own direct candidate database — you’re on your way to capturing relationships with passive job seekers, employees, and past applicants. When a site is easy to find and candidates are able to submit information that identifies their skill set, organizations can then build relationships with potential candidates. They can message matching jobs over time as opposed to posting to a job board, waiting for resumes to filter in, and then performing the arduous task of sorting through a potentially unqualified applicant pool.
By developing a full interactive recruitment marketing strategy, companies can ensure they’re findable in high search markets, which helps to harvest relationships with key candidate groups. This will drive repeat traffic and viral referrals in the future, which helps develop a self-sustaining long-term recruiting program.
Instead of relying on requisitions and expensive job boards to recruit candidates, organizations that get req-less and use these new Web 2.0 recruiting strategies to attract talent and build their own talent communities to create a robust candidate pipeline will broaden their reach, raise awareness of their employment brand, attract talent before the job boards before the competition, and will also develop career long relationships with talent that can be accessed on-demand over time.