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May 26, 2021

Building a Healthy Candidate Community and Why It's Critical to Recruiting Success

Welcome back to our series on the most effective new recruiting methods you haven’t tested yet. (And if you’re here for the first time, take a look at the first post in this series below.)

In our last article, we looked at why a great candidate experience is important, how to improve it and customize it, and the positive effect that doing so can have on a recruiter’s brand. We found that you can have the best of both worlds, leaning on technology to enhance the experience while reducing your workload.

Enhancing your candidate experience makes the job of attracting and retaining the best candidates so much easier. In fact, when done right, you can begin to build a community of top talent within your vertical: a deep well from which you can pull the very best candidates whenever you might need them.

In this second piece, we’ll be taking a look at the whats, whys, and hows of building such a community.

 

Taking a community-driven approach to recruiting

You only hear from a recruiter when they want something from you. It’s a perception that continues to be shared by many candidates, because this is the way that many recruiters continue to operate, only getting in contact when they’re desperately trying to fill a role. It’s not exactly a healthy relationship, and far from an effective one.

Consider a recruiter tasked with placing high-level IT talent: the likes of software engineers, application developers, cybersecurity specialists, and CIOs. Candidates for these roles are difficult to find on platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Monster, and even if you do find someone, they aren’t often keen to take a call from a perfect stranger.

A different approach - and a far more healthy and effective one - must be taken. Instead of attempting to snipe candidates from the shadows, you need to put yourself out there as someone worth knowing. You need to be where your candidates are, or better yet, get candidates to come to you.

You need to take a community-driven approach.

The first steps are simple enough. Join the networking groups and LinkedIn channels where your ideal candidates can be found, and become an active member, asking and answering questions, driving conversation, and positioning yourself as someone worth knowing.

Once you begin to establish yourself within these communities, the next step is to begin building your own. Get a sense of the questions that candidates are asking, and create content that answers them. A blog, regular LinkedIn posts, short videos, a podcast; these things build your credibility, positioning you as the go-to recruiter for [insert your vertical here].

“Through smart use of content, recruiters can build meaningful relationships with a candidate before they've even met the individual, which I think is really interesting,” says Jessica Rowen, National Marketing Manager at TalentWorld. 

When done well, a community-driven approach to recruiting creates a huge pool of relevant and high-end candidates that can be pulled from whenever necessary. Rather than relying on outbound recruiting means - the fishing on Indeed, the cold messages on LinkedIn - a recruiter arms themselves with warm, inbound candidates who are excited to work with them.

Recruiting Methods You Haven't Tested | Able

 

The role of brand in building a community 

Building a community isn’t a quick or easy process. Realizing the rewards will take time and effort, which is why this approach continues to be underutilized. A recruiter also can’t be expected to do it alone: the support of the firm is absolutely critical, making community building one of the most important modern marketing strategies for staffing agencies.

“The firm brings credibility, the recruiter brings value,” Rowen continues. “The firm’s brand must be there to build brand awareness and support recruiters in building their own brands. Creating content will be outside the comfort zone of many recruiters, so a firm’s marketing team must support a recruiter in their efforts.”

But a firm can only help a recruiter so much and take them so far. At the end of the day, the recruiter will need to make a name for themselves.

“You don't necessarily have to create your own content” advises Robert Mann, Sales and Content Specialist at Great Recruiters. “You can go in and comment on other people's content, or share it with a little fact about why you thought it was interesting. Begin with curation, work out what your candidates want to hear about, then slowly begin to develop your own content.”

Creating landing pages for your recruiters is another simple way to begin developing their brands, thus granting them the ability to build their own communities. “People want to do business with good people,” explains Joey Brodsky, Manager of Business Development, BlueWave Research Partners. “Landing pages are a fantastic way to proactively show credibility towards that. Share some of your successes, put up some case studies, develop a Q&A section: take the opportunity to introduce a recruiter, and set them apart.”

The recruiter brand can be thought of as the foundation of the community-driven recruiting approach. It’s the first thing that needs to be laid because everything else is built on top of it.

 

Tips for community-driven recruiting

Building a community from scratch can feel like an overwhelming task for an already busy recruiter. But by being smart about how you do it, you can make the task easier and more fun.

Go analog

While a platform like LinkedIn may now feel like the obvious place to build a community, there’s still room for more analog methods - a point ironically proven by Brodsky, a high-end tech recruiter.

“We used to run Tech and Beer, a local tech networking event where we gave out free beer and tacos to professionals in the tech sphere, and maybe put on a guest speaker. It quickly became a staple event in the tech community pre-COVID. 

Tech and Beer is a big example, but you can do this on a micro-scale. There’s value in just being seen, showing the human behind the screen, and selling yourself as the go-to recruiter in your niche. Doing this in-person makes people a lot less resistant to engaging with you.”

So host a meet-up, throw a party, put on some beer, and, if COVID-safe, get candidates in front of you.

Think outside the box

What does your target candidate look like? It might seem like an obvious question - if you’re hiring for IT, you’ll want to build a community of IT professionals - but in many verticals, such tunnel vision might mean you miss out on huge opportunities.

“We were tasked with finding long-term caregivers across Quebec during a global pandemic,” Rowen says. “It was impossible because anyone with any experience was already working. We instead had to identify an entirely new candidate pool that we could pull from quickly. 

“We asked ourselves two questions: what are the key transferable skills required, and what type of person is available right now. We found an answer in hospitality and retail workers: they’d been hit by a lockdown, and had great soft skills that were valuable in care. So we built a strategy around what was motivating them (money, new career opportunities), and quickly began to build a community and fill roles.”

Ask yourself: what is an overlooked demographic that could be a useful addition to your community? “The number one untapped resource for staffing right now is moms, because unfortunately a lot of them have left the workforce” advises Mann. “There are about three million women at home right now, so if you can figure out a way to utilize them, you're going to crush it.”

Such diversification of your candidate pool really deserves a conversation all its own, which is exactly what we’ll be having in the third and final piece of this series. We’ll also be looking at the increasing role of social media in the future of staffing agencies, and how a recruiter might go about making the most of it.

Stay tuned for part three.