The Most Effective Way to Build Brand

May 27, 2018 | Reading Time: 4 minutes

The loftier your company’s hiring goal, the more important it is to develop a thoughtful Candidate Engagement Strategy. Those lofty hiring goals lead to the following questions: How do we hire someone as fast as possible? How do we make sure we are getting to speak with the highest quality candidates?

In times of pressure, and in attempts to act with speed, companies often lapse into trying to engage a high quantity of candidates rather than focusing on delivering a quality message with a personal touch. Prioritizing quantity has negative results that go well beyond candidates just ignoring your message.

Impersonal messages destroy brands
Some recruiters are branded as ‘spam’ because they chase quantity over quality. Most recruiters, especially when they’re starting out, may feel under the gun to meet their quota. In doing so, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture–getting the company’s story in front of people in a thoughtful way to invite conversation. It can get so bad that the recruiter is mistaken for a spambot.

Candidates might respond with:

Take me off of your list.
Never email me again!
I seem to be missing the legally required unsubscribe button.

In these cases, candidates are responding to the message as if the recruiter were a machine, not a person. That’s because they feel like they were targeted by a machine. When candidates say these things, they are not angry at the recruiter for reaching out, they are upset with the type of message they received.

More than just making you feel bad, these negative candidate reactions destroy the personal recruiting brand and the brand of the company. When candidates feel spammed, it’s unlikely they will want to interact with the company in the future. The candidate feels like the company doesn’t value them – the relationship is in pieces.

Personal messages build relationships
Every time you reach out to a candidate, you have an opportunity to form a relationship. With thoughtful, customized content, your candidate will feel more respected and, in turn, treat you with respect.

Personal messages lead to responses like:

Thanks for actually reading my profile!
I normally don’t respond to recruiting emails, but it seems like you actually care.
I’m not looking, but my friend is. Her contact info is below.

The candidate may still conclude the email with a ‘this isn’t the best time’, but you’ve started to form a relationship and build a valuable connection. The candidate might not be ready to make the jump today, but when they are, you’ll be top of mind. You’ve left the candidate with a positive first impression of your company.

Personalizing messages for each candidate has four benefits:

  1. Develop rapport with a candidate
  2. Build a company brand
  3. Increased positive response rates
  4. Foster candidate referrals

What counts as personalization?
Before defining what effective personalization looks like, let’s also take a look at some common misses.

Think about it as Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Say you were Goldilocks and you got the following message instead of a bowl of porridge?

Here’s an example where Jimmy’s message to Goldilocks comes on too cold:

Hi Goldilocks,

I’m Jimmy and I work at TopFunnel. We’re hiring an engineer on our machine learning team. We build solutions that automate workflows and provide transparency to the process.

Are you up for chatting in the next couple days?

Best,
Jimmy

Everyone knows that mail-merge software can add a name to the beginning of an email. This message doesn’t show that Jimmy cares about Goldilocks, it shows that he bought a nice mail merge tool. Goldilocks might even mark this one as spam.

Here’s an example where Jimmy’s message comes on too hot:

Hi Goldilocks,

I’m Jimmy and I work at TopFunnel. I saw that you are at Google on the Search team. I also saw that you have some open source projects on Github. I’d love to connect and hear more about the way you invoked the FindInterestingData method on the BirdFromTheSouth tabular dataset. It’s super fascinating how you used a recursive method to narrow the search in only two lines of code. I also noticed that you do photography on the side – your website is beautiful. How did you capture the moon so perfectly behind the tree?

Are you up for chatting in the next couple days?

Best,
Jimmy

Too much personalization isn’t helpful either. In fact, it’s negative. This message is so long-winded that Goldilocks might think that Jimmy’s a stalker. This message also represents an inefficient use of time. Jimmy took 25 minutes to put this together. In the course of a day, he won’t be able to send out more than a handful of these. Personalized messages should convey a sense of care, without coming across as desperate.

Here’s an example where Jimmy’s message is just right:

Hi Goldilocks,

I’m Jimmy and I work at TopFunnel. I saw that you are at Google on the Search team so I’m sure you’re working on some fascinating ML problems. I also saw that you do photography on the side – your website is beautiful.

Are you up for chatting in the next couple days?

Best,
Jimmy

Jimmy took the time to research Goldi’s background and personalized his outreach. This message shows that he cares. By commenting on both her work and personal interests, Goldi knows this isn’t a mass email. The content in this example isn’t super long and didn’t take forever to generate, but it shows that he did a bit of research and that he knows why he’s reaching out. It’s not just because Goldi is an engineer at Google, it’s because she’s working on a specific team with a particular focus that’s applicable to the problems Jimmy’s company is solving.

Some tips to start building your own personalized messages
Personalization is a critical component of an effective Candidate Engagement Strategy. To get the best candidates, you need to humanize your outreach.

Write a couple sentences about the candidate’s specific professional experience that’s relevant to the role you’re recruiting for.
Reference any passions that the candidate has.
Ask thoughtful questions about the person’s work.
Show that you’re impressed by what the candidate has achieved.
Talk about the mission of your company to allow your candidate to imagine himself/herself working there.
Explain why the candidate’s past work is relevant.

The goal when engaging any candidate is to jumpstart a productive conversation. Even if you don’t hit that goal with every email (and you won’t), each message is still an opportunity to build your brand and your company’s. You’ll be rewarded with thoughtful responses and the foundation on which you can build a meaningful relationship.

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WRITTEN BY

Doreen Ghafari

Account Manager at TopFunnel

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