As we have noted in past issues, the Internet is the perfect medium for relationship recruiting. Its technology provides a "mass one-to-one communications" capability which, for the first time in history, enables you to reach out and touch hundreds, even thousands of individuals with a message that is custom tailored to each and every one of them. It is an efficient and effective way to nurture the long-term recruiter-candidate relationships that are the bedrock of successful staffing.
But what relationships are we talking about? Ironically, the answer to that question has a greater impact on the outcome of your recruiting than does the technological power of the Internet.
Not surprisingly, many organizations focus on building relationships with candidates who are qualified for today's open positions. Time and resources are limited, and this approach gets the job done. But does it? Surveys and press reports have, for some time, documented widespread difficulty in meeting recruiting requirements. While full employment is often cited as the culprit (and it obviously plays a role), there is another factor that is exacerbating the situation: recruiters are selling their relationships short.
To be most effective, you should use the Internet to build relationships with not one, but three groups: your organization's employees, those who are candidates for your current job openings and those who are not in the job market but may be interested in a new position which they view as career-enhancing.
Your Own Employees. If your organization is like most, it now includes an employee referral program in its recruiting effort. The Internet can help you to extend and enrich this program and thereby expand its contribution to candidate development. For example, use e-mail to pro-mote the employee referral program, to announce awards and to thank those who participate. In addition, use your corporate Web-site as the platform for program participation. It should be the location where open positions are posted (so that employees can see what's available right from their desktops) and referrals are made.
Another way to build relationships with employees is to engage them in "selling" the organization to prospective candidates. Cisco's Friends program is a case in point. The company has en-listed its employees as "peer recruiters." They follow-up with visitors to the Cisco Web-site who have expressed an interest in learning more about the company and registered to be contacted. Their interaction with these candidates helps to personalize the recruiting process and gives them a psychic boost, as well.
Candidates for your current openings. Ask all respondents to your job postings to include an e-mail address with their resume. Then, use that medium to (a) respond to every application you receive (including those from individuals deemed not qualified for a current opening, as they may be a legitimate candidate for another vacancy in the future); (b) keep active candidates continuously informed of their status; (c) direct candidates to company information at your own Web-site or to articles in publications that appear on-line; and (d) continue the "selling" process by sending them a candidate newsletter or other regular communication about the organization.
Those who are not yet candidates. Build long-term relationships with high caliber individuals in a wide array of fields. Use the Internet to expand your networking from those you know (i.e., your Rolodex or Palm Pilot) to those who know you. Don't bombard newsgroups and other virtual communities (e.g., on-line discussions hosted by professional, trade and affinity organizations) with e-mail solicitations. Instead, join and participate in these groups, offering your expertise as a career resource for its members.
Similarly, transform the employment area of your corporate Web-site or your stand-alone recruitment site, if you have one, into a different (and more appealing) kind of job board. Make it a rich trove of job search and career management information and assistance that is open to and designed to serve everyone. Wherever possible and without being intrusive, capture individual information so that you can continue to interact with visitors after they've left the site. Focus on helping these proto-candidates to be successful, and they will eventually want to work with you.
The technology of the Internet enables you to conduct such mass 1:1 communications at a fraction of the cost and effort associated with conventional print and telephonic media. More-over, each interaction can be custom tailored to each individual so that it contributes to a positive and meaningful relationship ... and gives you a competitive advantage in recruitment.