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Elevating the Candidate Experience…We’re Spoiled!

As summer temperatures heat up, so does our economy.  Current economic indicators show incomes are increasing and oil prices are low.  Consumer spending is up and national unemployment rates are on a downhill slide.  Business is moving faster to keep up and employees are getting restless. A summer storm is brewing and resumes are flying!  Why?

When the economy improves, it becomes a job seeker’s market.  To survive, businesses must focus on talent retention, and purposefully differentiate themselves as an employer of choice in the market.

So how does a company standout in the recruiting storm?

It’s all in the experience. Today’s job seekers respond best to a high-touch, personal, carefully planned and orchestrated recruiting approach. Let’s face it, we’re spoiled.

Society has high expectations. We have personal mobile devices with 24/7 connectivity and are accustomed to immediate results and positive experiences.  We’ve come to expect a heightened level of attention.  We want what we want and won’t take anything less.

When I graduated from the University of Tennessee and interviewed for my first job, the recruiting process intrigued me.  The “wining and dining,” the social events, the build up to the offer… some companies managed the process so well.  It was an experience!  Every interaction with those superior businesses was united in making me want to work for them.  They subtlety demonstrated they were the best.  I was impressed and I wanted in!

I especially recall one company with whom I interviewed.  They were superb at the “art of the chase” and had recruits hyperventilating over the possibility of joining their firm.  From start to finish, everyone with whom I interviewed had a consistent, unified, effective message.  The process was well-choreographed.  Every touch, every interaction, every communication said they were the best.

Many years later, I still recall my experience with great admiration.

It was high-touch recruiting.  It worked then, and it works now.  A positive, focused experience, like a little black dress, never goes out of style.  If your company presents as well put-together, doing everything RIGHT, you will attract candidates who have the right confidence, abilities, attitude and leadership qualities to help drive your business forward.

Regardless of industry or the size of business, the power of high-touch recruiting works.

Presentation is everything. As the old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Remember this adage… always!  Missteps must be avoided at all costs, regardless of where you are in the recruiting process.

Be authentic. Candidates build relationships with people, not companies.  When interacting with candidates, be present, be personable. Candidates want to know that you are invested in their happiness.

Create the want. Recruiting is sales. From start to finish, interactions must be well-orchestrated. Hiring leaders, recruiters – actually, every employee — need to know, understand and be able to articulate the character and direction of the organization.  Emails, letters, interviews, recruitment dinners, phone calls, texts, site visits, tours, etc., all should be reflective of company culture and leave the candidate wanting more.

Ensure consistency. An intentional, well-organized process allows companies to seek out highly motivated, optimistic people with the right skill sets that match the job as perfectly as possible.  The process is responsive to the market and implemented well by every employee with whom candidates interact.

A well-oiled machine. Recruiting is not off the cuff.  Interviewing is a skill. Recruiting is a planned activity. To create a memorable candidate experience, every employee participant must be trained, practiced and prepared in the art of recruiting.  Mixed messages may scare away top talent, or worse, you risk unnecessary legal exposure.  So, train…then train again.

Choose wisely. …but choose! People are an imperfect product. The focus should be on finding the best candidate in the market at the time you have the need. You can’t talk to everyone. There is a fine line between taking your time, and taking too long.  In today’s market, top candidates will find a position quickly.  Recruiters and hiring leaders need to be confident decision-makers.   If you know a candidate is strong, and your intuition is telling you they are a great culture fit, why delay and risk having the candidate take an opportunity elsewhere?

Don’t drop the ball. The best of the best show respect and consideration for all candidates. Once hired, new employees should have a sense of completion and satisfaction, if their personal recruiting experience was successfully executed.  On the flipside, candidates who weren’t selected complain: “I had a great interview, but then I never heard anything more from the company.”  Don’t be THAT company.

It takes time for employers to intentionally deliver a high-touch experience, but it is time well spent. The process of recruiting reflects who you are and who you want to be as a company.  It’s your reputation.

It’s about hiring the RIGHT people, in the RIGHT jobs, to do the RIGHT things, RIGHT now. Period.

Savvy employers don’t stop recruiting employees on their hire date. The high-touch recruiting experience is only the beginning.

So, what high-touch recruitment strategies could you add to this list?  How do you make recruiting memorable and effective?

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