November 2016

Attracting Top Talent – The 5 C’s of Effective Candidate Marketing

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Marketing to candidates can be hit or miss. Sometimes, your posts, ads, and other initiatives draw in a slew of talented people. Other times, only a few mediocre candidates respond.

What causes these successes and failures? Where you market is one factor, however, it’s not typically the cause of a low response rate. What is the primary cause? How you communicate your opportunities to top talent. This includes what you say, how you say it, and how long it takes you to convey your message.

How you communicate to prospective job candidates will be our focus in this five-part series. In each segment, I’ll cover one of the 5 C’s. These are the attributes that create an effective candidate marketing message.

The 5 C's of Effective Candidate Marketing

When you’re correctly using all 5 C’s, you’ll attract more top talent. Your marketing content, whether written or spoken, will help you effectively maximize several key talent streams, including advertising and referrals. There are eight streams in total, each of which gives you access to different pools of people. More details about the eight talent streams are covered in High Velocity Hiring, my forthcoming book being published by McGraw-Hill.

What makes the 5 C’s powerful? Marketing messages created using the 5 C’s are provocative. They’re more likely to capture and hold the attention of top talent. Highly qualified candidates are picky. Their careers depend upon continuing to make good job choices. Talented people pay attention to the details, starting with how you communicate with them.

The 5 C’s come with a big payoff. In my work with organizations across the globe, there’s a pattern — those that employ all 5 C’s attract at least three times more highly qualified job candidates.

The First C — Concise
Why soundbites are an important part of effective candidate marketing.

We live in a world of soundbites. Our inboxes, social media feeds, and news sources bombard us with hundreds of soundbites each day. These soundbites inform us of news, provide updates from our friends, and tout new products and services.

The dominance of soundbites has created the need to be concise. We’ve become a society that consumes tons of information in small chunks. Brevity has become the standard for all types of communication, including how you market to candidates.

To compete for top talent in today’s fast-paced, content-packed world, you must be a soundbiter. What does this mean in practical terms? Here are two important rules:

Rule #1
rule-1When writing, your first 15 to 20 words will capture or repel attention.

Think about how you review social media. You scan from post to post, clicking on those that grab your attention. Top talent does the same when looking at jobs posts, career ads, and other content about job opportunities. They scan and selectively choose which jobs appear to be worth further consideration.

For example, here’s the original opening paragraph of a job post from a large technology company I advise:

In business for more than 60 years, our continued growth has created the need to add to our team. You’ll be responsible for leading the efforts of a creative team of 12. This will include overseeing their work, mentoring each person to advance their careers, and driving each project to a successful conclusion.

It’s dull, long, and boring. It should be no surprise that only a handful of mediocre candidates responded, none of whom qualified for an initial phone interview.

Here’s how the opening read after the COO turned key features of the opportunity into a soundbite.

Ready to lead your team your way? Want five weeks vacation your first year? Then read on…

How’d this change the results? Four highly qualified people responded within 24 hours. Two, in particular, stood out, making it difficult for the COO to choose which one to hire. A “good problem” to have, as he put it.

Rule #2
When speaking, the first nine seconds are the most important.

rule-2When people speak, which ones grab your attention? What do they have in common? Chances are it was what they said in the first nine seconds. In those first nine seconds, you’re making a determination. You’re asking yourself, “is this person worth listening to?” If so, you remain engaged. If not, your mind and attention wonder.

Candidates do the same thing when listening to you. Those first nine seconds either engage them or prompt them to tune out.

What’s an effective verbal soundbite? Notice the difference between how a VP of Engineering previously began conversations with referred candidates…

“Hi Susan, I’m the VP of Engineering for a local company. I wanted to discuss your background for a opening I have on my team. It’s an engineering role with some solid opportunities for travel and advancement.”

…and how he does it today in a compelling soundbite fashion…

“Hi Susan, I work for XYZ company. I’m looking to add an engineer to my team. Someone who’d enjoy traveling to our offices around the world.  

In recent calls, his soundbite quickly grabbed the attention of five candidates. Two of them weren’t interested in changing jobs, but each offered him additional referrals. Three candidates quickly became excited about the opportunity, one of which he hired four days later.

The first of the 5 C’s, being concise, is where we begin for two reasons. First, being concise is a failing of many leaders. Second, it is the most important of the 5 C’s. Even if you flawlessly follow the other 4, top talent is turned off when you’re overly wordy. Highly qualified people shun the long-winded blowhards and, instead, gravitate to the organizations whose leaders communicate confidently and concisely.

In our next segment, we’ll move on to the second C – Clear.

Scott WintripAttracting Top Talent – The 5 C’s of Effective Candidate Marketing
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Got Election Fatigue? Channel It Into Hiring Speed

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Got Election Fatigue?

We’re days away from the end of one of the longest, most painful hiring processes I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Next Tuesday, November 8th, it’ll finally be over. One of two candidates will get the job.

You guessed it, right? I’m talking about the Presidential Election—which I like to think of as the American people filling a soon-to-be-vacant spot in the Executive Branch of the U.S. government.

This round of Executive Branch hiring has been interesting and occasionally entertaining. But overall it’s been a slow, painful ride to get to the point where “We, the People” can offer someone the position of President of The United States.

It’s been dragging on for over a year. Many people made their choice long ago. A handful are still up in the air. They’re waiting until the last minute to decide. Why? They’re afraid of making a bad choice.

Thankfully, this chaotic, unpredictable, interminable job interview has a hard end-date. The loser will cast blame; the winner will heap praise. Pundits will analyze and say even more than they have already. I know I’m not alone in hoping we learn something from all this, and the next election won’t be quite so bad.

Well—here’s to hoping.

Believe it or not, there really are lessons to learn inside all this madness. Lessons those of us in the business world can use to hire top talent more quickly and efficiently. Here are a few:

LESSON #1: Delayed decisions don’t create better hires.

Lesson #1During this election, we’ve operated under a faulty premise. We assume the long process will result in a quality choice. How’s that working out for us? Not so well. We’ve ended up with the opposite: our final two candidates both have obvious, glaring flaws. Polls rate Clinton and Trump as the two most unsatisfactory candidates in decades.

When it comes to hiring, most organizations operate under the same faulty premise. They think the more time, money, and energy they expend, the better the hire will be. It gives them a sense of control.

But it’s a false sense of control.

Taking lots of time to hire doesn’t save companies from bad hires; it only saves people from making decisions. It’s not that these are bad people. No one wants to make a hiring mistake, so they put it off and hide behind process and procedure. I don’t blame them…they’ve simply bought into a bad idea. The old way of hiring is to keep a job open until the right person shows up. The result is long time-to-fill, lots of open seats, higher expenses, more effort, and frustrated leaders.

LESSON #2: Being slow to hire has consequences.

Lesson #2590 days and counting.

That’s how long this election has been going on. Compare that to Canada: in 2015 they took 78 days. In the U.K.: 139 days. A long election cycle is distracting, exhausting, and expensive. It keeps candidates stuck in campaign mode instead of doing the work of governing.

Slow hiring is no better. The longer it takes to hire, the longer a job remains open. Work piles up, which creates extra demand on everyone from staff to leadership. Not to mention to gradual accumulation of unnecessary expenses including but not limited to overtime, lost business, and missed opportunities.

LESSON #3: This is how it’s always been done, so it must be right.

Lesson #3During the primaries, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders touted a similar message: the status quo is broken. This resonated with millions of voters, making both campaigns more successful that anyone thought possible. However, after the primaries, both Democrats and Republicans went back to their same old tricks. The deluge of negative ads, campaign surrogates spewing soundbites on TV, and daily robocalls threatens to drive us all insane. It’s no wonder we have election fatigue. Politicians say Washington needs fixing, but they certainly aren’t interested in fixing the way they campaign.

When it comes to hiring, many organizations are no different: they keep doing things the same old way, even though the same old way is ineffective. Why? It’s easier to maintain the status quo, especially if you’re afraid changing things won’t work. Companies are stuck in the slow lane of hiring, losing valuable time and top talent to faster competitors.

Election fatigue isn’t just about the long campaign process. It’s also about powerlessness. Our powerlessness. As citizens, there’s nothing we can do. We can’t make this election any better or faster. As a business leader, however, you’re not powerless. You can make things better and faster. You have the power to effect change in your organization. What better way to channel that power than to implement a fast and efficient hiring process?

You already have a perfect example of how not to hire: the absurd, lumbering monstrosity known as the 2016 Presidential Race.

If you’d like more details on the three key fundamentals of a speedy and efficient hiring process, read When It Comes to Hiring, Top Leaders Never Go With the Flow.


Scott WintripGot Election Fatigue? Channel It Into Hiring Speed
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