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Sending Out An SMS: Recruiting Texts From Last Night

This article originally appeared on Recruiting Daily.

In recruiting we spend a whole lot of time talking about striking the balance between automation and personalization, and how best to blend high tech with high touch. But for all the talk about email blasts, talent communities and employer branding, for some reason it seems like we’re all ignoring what seems to be a pretty obvious solution to what’s become a fairly endemic problem in talent acquisition today.

Imagine if a new SaaS product came out today that could guarantee a 90% open rate within three minutes of being sent. You’d probably pay whatever it takes to get your hands on what sounds to be a silver bullet for sourcing and candidate development.

I mean, 9 out of 10 candidates read my message within three minutes, I’m pretty sure we’d all throw obscene amounts of cash in whatever vendor could confidently make that guarantee – those response rates, after all, are pretty much unheard of in traditional talent acquisition technology.

Seriously. Name your price.

Why Text Marketing Crushes Social Recruiting
The thing is that product already exists, and you’re probably already using it; it’s called texting, and several studies support the fact that texts are by far the best way to make sure your message gets heard by the right person at the right time, in real time, all the time.

With an open rate ranging from between 90-99%, and with 9 out of 10 texts being read within three minutes of being received, the most powerful weapon in mobile recruiting may have been sitting there on your phone this entire time.

How many millions of dollars, after all, have companies spent to buy up followers and friends on Twitter or Facebook simply so that they can have the capability to get their brand message out to hundreds of thousands of people who could care less about your sponsored story, in the unlikely event they’d actually see it?

It’s easy to forget, but the reason Twitter is capped at 140 characters is because it was developed based off the SMS (that’s short message system) limit of 160 characters; Twitter caps user names out at 20 characters, thereby splitting the difference and establishing a whole new form of communication that’s never betrayed its origins as an SMS service. Texts were the entire point of tweeting, once upon a time not all too long ago.

Still not convinced? Well, let me try the old peer pressure approach: everyone’s doing it! Last year, users around the world sent an estimated 200 billion Tweets, a big number dwarfed by the deluge of an estimated 7.2 TRILLION text messages sent globally in 2015 alone.

That statistic alone should convince you of the need for using texting for talent acquisition. Think about the sheer volume of data represented in those 7.2 trillion texts (and counting) we send every year. It’s mind blowing, really, and it’s fairly safe to say that texting has become the predominate form of human communication in the 21st Century.

Don’t worry. It’s not a sign of the Apocalypse. It’s actually a pretty incredible opportunity to transform your applicant acquisition and candidate engagement strategies to be more efficient, and effective, than ever before.

Recruiting Texts: High Touch Meets High Tech
I know what you’re probably thinking. Sure, you send lots of texts, but those are personal messages, not professional ones. Am I right? That’s kind of the whole point of recruiting, if you’re doing it right.

That said, the perception that SMS communication is entirely driven by individual users isn’t completely accurate. According to a Pure360 report from 2013, 54% of US consumers receive at least one branded SMS message daily, and 50% of those who receive branded texts at some point convert into actual buyers. That’s right – fully half of those potential prospects actually closed due directly to a branded text message.

I have to believe that, three years after this original study, that the reach and ROI demonstrated by such successful texting trial runs have made this marketing approach even more prevalent, with the volume of brand-based texts skyrocketing to the point of ubiquity in 2016.

What limited data there happens to be available on current consumer trends support this belief. But for some reason, even as marketing departments embrace texting, recruiters are well behind the professional adoption curve on a technology almost all of us are already using for personal purposes, never thinking that maybe, just maybe, that silver bullet might have been in their hands this entire time.

This shouldn’t be a surprise, as recruiters are often late adopters, but this is one trend no talent pro can afford to miss.

Consider the question of where, exactly, you’d find candidate cell phone numbers to call if you were starting a search today. I’m going to guess it’s your ATS. Even in the few cases where a candidate’s cell phone number isn’t a required field, almost every resume in there is going to have their direct cell number prominently posted right at the top of the page.

If you’re not finding what you’re looking for there, I’d look at tools like ZoomInfo, Netprospex, Prophet or Spokeo. If your candidate has a cell phone, there’s a good chance the number is accessible on one of these profile aggregators, which makes building a lead list for texting campaigns far easier than trying to test a bunch of email matrixes to find out what address to start spamming.

Converting Contacts Into Candidates With Text Messaging: A Case Study
OK, so you’ve got a bunch of cell numbers. Now, most of the time, you’d probably start straight cold calling through your lead list, but this is where the true power of texting truly comes in. Chances are the only way you know how to send texts is through your cell phone, and if you’re like me, there’s no way you’re giving that number out like candy to candidates.

Good news: there’s actually an app for that. TextMe is a free recruiting tool that allows users to generate a random number for sending anonymous texts. While you’ll receive responses directly to your phone, you’ll hear a different tone to let you know whether or not it’s from a candidate. Pretty cool, right?

So, what more can I say? If you know how to cold call, the rules of the recruiting road still hold true when it comes to approaching text messaging. As evidence, I’ve got an actual example that I used with my team at Hudson. Contact information has been hidden to protect the innocent.

And just like that, what would have been a wasted InMail turned into an actual phone interview easier than if they’d actually replied directly on LinkedIn, where we had originally connected. Now, I know what some of you in the back of the room are probably thinking: “phones are for calling (or sourcing) – they’re certainly not for texting!” If that’s what you really think, well, all I can say is, think again. In fact, there are a few things wrong with that mindset that seem to be fairly self-evident.

First, calling and texting aren’t mutually exclusive; second, while I still believe that you can’t replicate the connection you can make with a candidate over the phone, when it comes to sourcing, the number of recruiters actually making cold calls has plummeted precipitously.

As the old adage says, “you can’t change the wind, but you can adjust your sails.”

 
 
 

Growing Your Business? Start by Knowing What Talent You Need and When

Workforce Planning

How do you build a case for workforce planning? Start by working smart.

Take a good, hard look at your business: Is your company always in reaction mode, unable to garner resources in time to make the most of a new market opportunity? Or are you constantly scrambling to fill key staffing gaps, often at a significant cost and not getting the best hires? Is your staff worn down because they’re always doing extra work covering for vacant roles? There’s got to be a better way and robust workforce planning is the first step.

Workforce planning is a strategic process useful for organizations to help them anticipate their future resourcing needs. A Workforce Plan aligns with the business’s strategic plan and lays out the staff numbers, locations, roles and capabilities that will be required to meet it. It also outlines how to attract and recruit the staff which will help the company achieve its medium or long-term goals, as well as how to tap into obvious and hidden pools of internal talent.

Building your business case
If workforce planning sounds like it would add value to your company, you might be keen to get started. However, because workforce planning is not a quick fix and needs to be aligned to the company’s business plan, you will need input and support from senior leaders in your company to make it successful. The first step will be to build a compelling business case to bring key stakeholders on the journey.

A great way to do that is to show some powerful metrics. For example, if the business finds it is taking too long to fill critical open positions, then it is possible to show how this high “time to fill” is adversely impacting the financial results of the company by way of missed revenues. Showing how revenue can be increased can provide a pretty compelling argument.

To calculate missed revenues, start by choosing a few roles where it’s easy to measure the value of 30 days of revenue-generating work (sales roles are often a good option). You can easily look at expected revenue from each sales resource and then extrapolate out the missed revenue by not filling that role. Remember, the value of those 30 days is what you will ‘earn’ by filling that role 30 days faster. Next, determine how many of these roles require filling each year. Multiply this by the 30 days figure to arrive at a hard-to-ignore revenue impact.

Alternatively, you may look at the additional costs you are incurring by not having a proper Workforce Plan, such as the cost of over-using recruitment agencies or search firms to fill jobs. The cost-per-hire difference between you filling a job yourself (via your in-house recruitment team or RPO partner) versus the cost of doing so via a search firm can be large and may be significantly reduced with a robust Workforce Plan tied to the right resourcing plan and model.

Sometimes the cost of turnover can be included in your business case, especially where turnover is caused by a lack of internal career development opportunities, unmanageable workload or the wrong people being hired in the first place, as all of these problems can be addressed by the right Workforce Plan.

Bring key players on the journey
Once the business case is complete, you need to find the most appropriate person to present it to the Executive Team to build their buy-in and support. Typically this is the HRD or CFO. If the business case is done well, then adopting your recommendations should be an easy decision.

Once you have approval and enter the implementation phase, it is absolutely critical that the plan is kept live and relevant by regular contact with senior executives to ensure any changes to strategies are understood and reflected in the Workforce Plan. Without this, HR’s role of ensuring a Workforce Plan matches the future plans of leadership simply isn’t possible. Your CEO also needs to back the process, sending a signal across the business that workforce planning is both essential and valued.

While it is ideal to create a Workforce Plan that is truly company wide as it leverages talent and synergies across the entire business, this may not be possible for businesses embarking on this for the first time. In these instances you may have to focus your energies initially in one business division to prove the concept before expanding the plan and actions across the entire organization.

If there’s a mantra for those implementing a Workforce Plan, it should be: “Do something.” Don’t feel it’s vital to tackle the entire organization in one pass – this can often lead to the conclusion that the process is too hard. Your plan doesn’t need to be 100 percent perfect, but it does need to provide a practical guide for HR activities that are aligned with your business’s strategic objectives.

Sure, it can feel slow. And yes, you may strike resistance along the way from those wanting instant solutions. But stick with it: the pay-off will come when you have the best talent in the market, exactly where and when you need them, ready to seize every opportunity.

Download Hudson's Workforce Planning paper

 
 
 

The Creative Sourcing Myth

This article originally appeared on the SourceCon blog.

Herein follows a tale of sourcing woe, like that of Juliet and her Romeo.

Have you ever been in a meeting with a, fill in the blank, and at the end of the meeting the conclusion is, “we need to come up with some creative ways of finding more candidates.” Every time I hear that I wonder, “what does that even mean?”

Do you feel that way too? In this post, I want to share some stories of souring woe, with the objective of clarifying the conversation and helping you identify solutions for a happy ending.

The first part of understanding and dealing with a myth is identifying where it originated. At different points in different companies, operations professionals sat down with recruiters and came to the same conclusion – we don’t have enough qualified applicants applying for our jobs! During these conversations, the answer came from a study of the numbers. At any given time, only a small percentage of the job force is looking for a job. What if we approach people who aren’t actively looking for a job?

After some initial concerns, sourcing was born. A new role was born from the ashes of recruiting: The Sourcer. A person entirely dedicated to the identification, engagement, and submission of prospects into the candidate pipeline that would not have applied otherwise.

At First, Sourcing was a Great Success
Networks like LinkedIn gave sourcers a seemingly endless supply of passive candidates to approach about our jobs. It was a veritable Eden for sourcers and the profession. It was quiet, too quiet. Until something changed, as it always does, and like in all good stories, our time in paradise ended.

We evolved from being seen as opportunity knocking gently on the door into merchants of spam. As the devolution progressed our response rates dropped, our throughput suffered, and we tried to fill the gap with filler instead of substance. Our once standard 50% and above response rates have dwindled down to below 20% and in some cases even 10%.

Like many challenges, this one has evolved. The biggest challenge previously was candidate identification. We simply could not find enough qualified people to fill our open jobs. As a result, the technology of the last 15 years has been focused on identification of talent. Monster, CareerBuilder, Dice, LinkedIn, Talent Bin, Entello, and Gild are all tools that are primarily focused on the identification of talent that could be a match for our currently open and available jobs.

Given this pattern, it‘s easy to understand why companies turn to creative sourcing as a solution to the problem of lack of candidate flow. The consequence has been that the tools have allowed more people to contact more prospects in less time. Ironically, as we were able to reach more people, the likelihood of being ignored increased. This created a negative feedback loop.

We have now created a new problem for ourselves.

The new problem talent acquisition professionals face is engagement.

The Creative Sourcing Myth
The myth isn’t about the existence of creative sourcing; it’s about what creative sourcing really is and what it really means. The myth is that creative sourcing is the ability to identify new prospects. When in reality, creative sourcing is the ability to invent creative ways of engaging with prospective candidates we have already identified.

As Albert Einstein famously said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

This means that we need to change the way we think about sourcing. Finding an increasingly shrinking pool of unidentified contacts is not the solution to the problem on lack of candidate flow.

So what IS the solution?
Change the way we think about our internal relationships inside of our company.

The relationship between recruiting and marketing should become analogous to the relationship between Sales and Marketing. These two professions are related and on occasion overlapping, but they are different and distinct.

Improve the Candidate experience
A simple way to improve candidate experience is to keep candidates informed about the process and close the loop with them at the end of the process. Even if they don’t get hired, offer to help them network. This will do two things for you. First it will provide you with an actual network of people you can call on in the future. Second, it can create candidate referrals.

Candidate referrals are a source that no technology can create or compete with.

Learn the Language of Marketing
Understanding your target audience and learning how to engage with them in a way that prompts them to take the desired action is the most important thing you can do for your personal productivity. It is more effective to reach out to 3 prospects and have 1 respond to you than it is to reach out to 30 prospects and have 2 respond to you.

Improve Employer Brand
Work with your employer branding team to learn about the things they are doing to attract prospects to engage. If you don’t have an Employer Branding team, reach out to marketing. View it as an opportunity to increase your skill set. Start small and stay simple. Start by learning about the stories your company tells. If you can’t find them, ask. Ask your hiring managers about what impact their work has on their clients. Ask them to tell you why their work is important. Then, moving forward, share that story with the people you want to engage. You can use social media to share your story but the simplest way to share it is in your approach emails and phone calls with your prospects.

Employer branding at its core is an attempt to increase the rate at which prospective candidates engage with a company. Your effort doesn’t have to span every channel of social media, but it does have to start with one. The first step to a happy ending is having a story to tell that starts with, “Once upon a time.”

 
 
 

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Hudson is a global talent solutions company. We help transform the workplace and unleash the full potential of organizations and individuals. Our expert team and proprietary tools provide you with unique insights and services that help you maximize your success. Across 20 countries, we deliver a range of recruitment, talent management and recruitment process outsourcing solutions to get you and your business where you want to be.