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.
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:
When 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.
When speaking, the first nine seconds are the most important.
When 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.