Countless recruiters have told me that recruiting is sales. Well, if this is true, why are so many companies not treating the recruiting function the same way as they treat their sales function. There has been a long-brewing war on talent. And as we get closer to a post-recession economy, hiring is going to get even more challenging.
And I know, we have about a billion new grads looking for work, I am not talking about the next 2 years, I am talking about the next 10. Baby Boomers are going to be retiring any day now and there is going to be a big gap in skills at senior levels. You couple this with the rise of what I call “Freelance Nation”, and you have a recipe for a skilled worker shortage. Most talent acquisition pros know that post and pray is not a strategy if you intend to win this war.
The Difference Between Recruiting and Sales
When I look at recruiting and sales from a funnel perspective, they are not all that different. Both start with creating awareness. Then they focus on activation, or getting people to take action of your message. Finally, brands work like hell to convert people who have raised their hand in terms of interest in the brand. Funny thing is, these two functions are working in incredible different states and it shows in the candidate experience, or lack thereof.
Here’s the big difference: The marketing function generates leads. The best marketers are taking their leads and segmenting them in different ways, one of which is their likelihood to buy and their stage in the funnel. Leads are then nurtured within a marketing automation system. These systems provide leads with drip campaigns that provide them with relevant information during the decision-making process and once the decision has been made and the lead has been converted into a sale, the marketing function works to upsell and earn referrals from this new customer. The brand aims to build a relationship with this customer that overtime will create a lifelong valuable asset to the organization.
The conversion point in the recruiting function is placed in the wrong spot.
On the other hand: Today’s recruiting function is structured to advertise opportunities everywhere and hope people apply. Aside from “Talent Communities”, there is very little nurturing, because, in the minds of most recruiting functions, this person is already converted into a candidate. And THIS is the problem: The conversion point in the recruiting function is placed in the wrong spot.
An applicant is not an employee who is delivering value to the organization. Applicants are prospective employees. This relationship might evolve over time. In the current structure, an applicant is just someone who might deliver value under the right circumstances. An applicant is a lead.
The Candidate Experience
The biggest brands get up to 30,000 applications (or leads) every month. To my knowledge, these leads are not being segmented and scored in the system and nurtured based on their talent or cultural match, or anything. And guess what, these leads are also customers. If you nurture them, you build your brand, as an employer or otherwise. When you fail to nurture them, well, the opposite happens. Lack of nurturing creates brand resentment and it absolutely impacts future purchasing decisions as well as the decision to apply again for a role. This is 100% lose-lose. Not only do you lose a customer, you lose talent.
Lack of nurturing creates brand resentment
Imagine what would happen if the recruiting function moved the conversion metric to the real point of conversion? What if we stopped measuring volume of applicants and focused on conversion at hire or better yet the lifetime value of an efficient and effective employee.
We would create candidate experiences that are transparent and nurturing, encouraging the right people to apply at the right time. We would be more streamlined about our marketing and advertising. We could be more honest in our job ads. We could communicate the realities of the job so that we are attracting the right leads.
The sales function doesn’t just want leads, they want the right leads and when they market with laser precision, they get that and more. They get higher quality of customer who spends more. The same could apply to recruiting if we can have that conversation.
As the war for talent starts to re-ignite, we need to start thinking about how the process has to change and how we want to market to people. Step one would be looking at how we measure the effectiveness of recruitment marketing. Step two, is to start treating candidates like potential hires and customers. It’s just good marketing. It is brand enhancement and when done right, it builds experiences that strengthen the brand.
Recruiting is sales.