Attracting and Building Relationships with External Applicants

Posted by Judy Fort on July 20, 2016

employee

While looking at your current employees and their referrals is a strong way to fill open positions, many times external applicants are going to make up a large percentage of your applicant pool.  So how can you best attract these applicants to your company, and once there, how can you make sure to build a relationship with those applicants?  And what is the downside if you don’t get this right?

Attracting Applicants

When it comes to getting applicants to visit your career center and apply to jobs, you cannot just rely on the job description to get them through the door.  There are many other factors that you need to consider to make sure that it is easy for applicants to learn about your company and find a job that interests them.

First, make sure you are advertising your jobs in the right places to attract the right applicants.  This could include local universities, job board, social media, the newspaper or emails to previous applicants.  Every company may have a different strategy on how to best get information about your jobs out there – take a look at where your previously successful hires have come from and start from there to attract similar applicants.

Also, don’t assume a one-size-fits-all approach with your career center.  Different applicants have different needs, and your career center needs to cater to those.  Be able to direct applicants to corporate jobs to a career center specific to those jobs, and do the same for your hourly workforce.  By breaking this up, you make it easier for applicants to find jobs that they are looking for and qualified for, and improve their user experience.

Finally, don’t forget to make your site mobile friendly.  According to Beyond (http://about.beyond.com/infographics/mobile-job-search-apps) 77% of job seekers use mobile devices to search for jobs.  So, if your career center doesn’t support this capability, you might end up missing out on some really good applicants.

Application Experience

Once you’ve made your jobs easy to find and learn about, make sure it is easy for applicants to apply.  The process, the rules, the requirements – it is important that each one of these items is clear and easy for the applicant to follow.

Over the years, one of the number one complaints I hear about the application process is that it is too hard, too long, and too repetitive.  Really evaluate your current process and get rid of the things you don’t need.  As mentioned in our Step Away from the AppliCANTion blog post, if you are asking every applicant to submit a cover letter, but you never read it, remove it from the application.  Having extra steps that don’t provide value to your or the applicant just makes the process longer and increases the odds that the applicant won’t finish.

Communication and Follow Up

Feedback to your applicants is one of the best ways to ensure you develop a good relationship with potential talent.  After someone applies to a job, it is really important that regular updates are provided throughout the entire hiring cycle.  Whether it is good news that you are reaching out for an interview, or the more dreaded news that they aren’t qualified for the opening, applicants need to be apprised of the status of their application.

Also, you may have heard of the resume black hole, and you probably know this isn’t a good thing.  Providing follow up and communicating with applicants can help alleviate this issue, which is so prevalent that there are many articles and videos on how to avoid the black hole (like this one from Forbes - http://www.forbes.com/pictures/fmlm45efmeg/how-to-avoid-the-resume/#66fd03c76c0c.

So What If You Don’t?

The cost of dissatisfied applicants is more than them giving up and looking elsewhere – it can leave applicants with a negative perception of your company as a whole.  Whether the process is too rushed, too slow, or lacks any meaningful feedback, there are repercussions with how that potential applicant views the company, and whether or not they will share their experience with their friends or elsewhere on the internet.  And don't forget that studies have shown that job seekers are less likely to buy or use services from a company that is unresponsive when they apply to work there (http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?ed=12/31/2012&id=pr703&sd=6/20/2012).