The San Francisco Bay Area is extremely competitive when it comes to finding talent, especially in technology. The region is home to a bevy of forward-thinking companies, a cursory glance at which reads like the who’s-who of modern American business: Facebook, Google, Lyft, Uber, Twitter, Airbnb, GoPro, Cisco, Salesforce.com. The list goes on.
The Mercury News reported in January that the number of jobs grew by 2.7% in 2016 in the Bay Area. The unemployment rate in the San Francisco-San Mateo area is 3%, the lowest it has been since April 2000. While this ground is fertile for employees, the basic economic law of supply and demand has made filling roles—especially those relating to technology—quite tricky for employers, especially lesser-known start-ups.
This is the atmosphere with which Lindsey Dal Porto had to recruit a software engineer to 1-Page, a San Francisco-based start-up that markets software products to HR departments.
Dal Porto, former head of recruiting with 1-Page (she now works with RJR Partners as a senior associate), says all of the people best-suited for the engineer role were already employed, well-paid and consistently being barraged by messages from recruiters.
The solution to finding the best and brightest talent possible was to bring in the marketing department and start thinking creatively.
Bringing marketing into the recruiting process may soon become common at companies across the world. Matt Alder, who works in talent acquisition and innovation consulting at MetaShift and hosts the podcast “The Recruiting Future,” says companies now have to work harder to find and hire new talent.
A 2016 Glassdoor report found that it takes $4,000 and 52 days, on average, to fill an open position, just north of 1-Page’s recruiting time before the beginning of its marketing-assisted campaign. In 2015, Glassdoor reported that 90% of recruiters said the market is candidate-driven, up from 54% who said the same in 2011. Candidate shortages and lengthy hiring practices were noted as the top two obstacles to hiring more employees.
For this reason, Alder believes HR and marketing will be working much more closely together in the near future, an area he says many businesses are already experimenting with and finding success.
Companies looking to coalesce HR and marketing resources likely want to do what 1-Page was looking to do: save time, cut costs and take some initiative in a crowded market.
Dal Porto and the 1-Page marketing team defined five tenets to abide by: Put the candidate first, nail the intake meeting, optimize and automate the sourcing function, learn from other parts of the business and leverage the hiring manager consistently throughout the hiring process. Next, Dal Porto built a list of the candidates 1-Page wanted to pursue. Then, she and the marketing team drafted e-mails and selected optimal times to send introduction messages to perspective candidates.
During the campaign, Dal Porto—working with the marketing team—was able to adjust the campaign by focusing the messaging, collaborating with the position’s hiring manager and changing who was being targeted midway through the campaign. These moves cut “not the right fit” responses by candidates from 7% to 1% during the campaign, she says, and allowed the company to focus on how they could sell candidates on the value of taking a job with 1-Page.
Additionally, Dal Porto and the marketing team created a dedicated landing page for the role, giving prospective employees a more detailed job description. The pages were designed to be simple and show off additional benefits of taking the job, she says.
When it was time to recruit, the team sent out five e-mails, alternating between the recruiter and hiring manager as the sender. Leveraging the hiring manager in e-mail communications was a key to the campaign’s success, Dal Port says. Sending recruits an e-mail that appeared in the inbox as from a hiring manager gave a personal touch in a world where candidates mostly receive e-mails from HR professionals.
“The messaging truly portrays a relationship between recruiter and hiring manager,” she says. “From a candidate perspective, this makes the opportunity all the more attractive and the recruiter all the more legitimate.”
Dal Porto and the marketing team set two keys for success from the outset: Always reply to recruits, even if busy, and take candidates off the five-message campaign after they respond. Otherwise, “you risk revealing all” as far as automation is concerned, Dal Porto says, likely sullying credibility in the eyes of some prospective employees.
“An important mantra to remember here is any response is a good response,” Dal Porto wrote in a blog post.
Dal Porto says the results of the pre-campaign legwork put her in “total positive shock.”
“To see multiple responses come in, in a matter of hours, was both exciting and overwhelming,” she says. “In the end, the amount of time we spent pre-campaign to get all of the candidates selected and uploaded into the campaign was still hours—even days—less than what the traditional sourcing and outreach model would require. This made the responses even sweeter.”
Twenty-four percent of the responses from potential recruits were positive, Dal Porto says, and conversations were started with another 60% of candidates who said it wasn’t the right time to change roles, but became aware of 1-Page for the first time.
The campaign also cut search time for an employee from six weeks to two weeks, Dal Porto says. The response rate was 26% for the software engineer job and varied from 21% to 27% for other open positions that used similar campaign framework. Additionally, the percentage of “please take me off your list” responses were under 1% of the total responses received, something 1-Page took as a huge win in cold-call recruitment.
“It meant that our messaging was, for the most part, really well-done and sounded personal,” Dal Porto says. “At the end of the day, recruiting is about relationships, so this was a great way to begin any relationship with both interested and uninterested candidates.”
Sending five e-mails paid off for the 1-Page team. The first e-mail, automated to be from the recruiter, saw a response rate of 4.89%, something of a dud. However, e-mails No. 2 and No. 3 from the hiring manager and recruiter saw respective response rates of 8.3% and 7.87%, giving the campaign a spark. Dal Porto says there was a 10% spike in positive, interested responses after an e-mail from the hiring manager.
Dal Porto is tempted to say there will need to be a necessary marriage between recruiting and marketing, much of which is already in play through social posts and events.
“Rarely is there a relationship between lead generation and recruiting. I see this happening in the future,” she says.
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