Fun fact: recruiting a software developer can take more than 6 months and cost more than $30,000 on average—and that’s without accounting for lost productivity during a lengthy recruitment process. Though the numbers may be less eye-popping in other fields, there’s no denying the fact the recruiting even a single employee can be a costly and time-consuming affair, one that makes it difficult for many businesses to attract and engage the type of high quality talent that can make a real impact on their operations. Luckily, there are steps that recruiters can take to speed up time to hire and decrease hiring cost. Chief among them? Building a strong talent pipeline.
1. Create a Powerful Employer Brand
In the tech world, taking a candidate from the initial application to a job offer takes an average of 33 days, but many businesses have found that a strong talent pipeline can reduce that number, often significantly. In part, this reduction in time to hire (to say nothing of time to fill) is a due to the strong employer branding and messaging that it takes to attract potential candidates into your pipeline. For this reason, the most important strategy for strengthening your talent pool is to ensure that your employer brand gives a clear, accurate portrayal of your mission, values, and employee value proposition (EVP). Of course, an employer brand is no good to anyone if goes unseen—that’s why a crucial component of this tactic involves not just crafting a brand, but disseminating it widely on social media and other channels. In this way, you can reach the 80% of workers who, though not actively job seeking, would switch jobs for the right offer, familiarizing them with your brand in the early stages of awareness and priming them to consider applying as they gain more exposure to your branding. If and when that happens, they will already be familiar with your core values and your EVP, thereby smoothing out the rest of the process and potentially adding an element of self selection.
2. Target the Right Talent
This strategy can almost be thought of as a caveat to the one above, but that doesn't make it any less crucial. In the same way that a strong employer brand offers no real value if no one sees your messaging, the value of your employer brand is significantly reduced if you don’t reach the right people. Think carefully about the demographics of the talent you’re trying to reach: How old are they? How much education do they have? Where are they located geographically? If you haven’t done so already, it may be helpful to develop employee personas for each position that needs to be filled, laying out all of the characteristics that an ideal (but realistic) candidate for the position would have. Once you have a clear picture of the right demographics for your messaging, you can make a deliberate attempt to promote your brand where those demographics are likely to see them. Developers, for instance, might be more easily reached on Stack Overflow or Reddit than on Instagram, while other positions might call for different kinds of targeting.
3. Make Life Easy for Applicants
Time for another fun fact: Only 35 percent of Fortune 500 companies have mobile friendly careers sites. In an era where recruitment has tremendous incentives to go digital, it should be shocking that there are so many businesses who fail to prioritize the convenience of their applicants. Though earlier recruiting wisdom has sometimes held that long or cumbersome applications can be an effective tool for weeding out low-interest or low-commitment candidates, in the current job market, with such a premium placed on high quality applicants, the exact opposite is true. By providing not just a mobile career site, but intuitive, streamlined, and easy to use landing pages for your various job postings, you demonstrate the value you place on your applicants’ time and stop them from dropping out of the process before they have even submitted the initial application. Many job seekers think of candidate experience as a proxy for how well an business treats its employees, which may account for some of the 50% of candidates who do, in fact, decline to complete the initial application. Conversely, by making it easy for applicants to apply (and, better yet, easy for them to continue through screening and interview phases) you can help to ensure a steady stream of potential new hires in your pipeline.
4. Define Future Needs
We’ve mentioned employee personas once already in this blog post, but with this strategy they take on a new importance. After all, if you’re trying to attract a large volume of candidates, there’s a decent chance that it’s because you’re actively growing your business. If this is the case, then it’s important to think of your future needs when making decisions about your talent pipeline. Are your employee personas the same as they will be after the business has scaled to a larger size? You might conceivably want to shift your focus to potential applicants who would be enticed by a more growth- and opportunity-centric EVP; or you might need to turn an eye toward filling out your company’s managerial structure as it takes on more personnel. Whatever your future organizational needs will be, it’s important to sketch them out in advance, so that you can get reach people with your employer branding even before you have a need for them, so that they’ll be ready to apply as soon as you’re ready to accept their applications.
5. Track Your Successes (and Failures)
All of the strategies above should help you to create a stream of qualified applicants with a genuine interest in your company, which will ultimately improve metrics like time to hire and time to fill—but that’s not the end of the conversation. Once you’ve implemented one or all of the strategies above, it’s important to then measure the impact your actions are having on your recruiting key performance indicators (KPIs). In the best case scenario, you’ll know how to replicate successes and continue building a stronger applicant pool. Conversely, if your efforts aren’t yielding the desired results, you can accurately identify any bottlenecks in the application process (i.e. low total applications, low conversion rates for applications into hires, or slowdowns at any step in between) and adjust your strategy accordingly. Once you’ve made whatever adjust you deem optimal, keep measuring the effects and readjusting until your recruitment efforts run like a well oiled machine.