A company that knew of the award-winning recruitment training programme we have developed for our people approached us and asked if we could help them as they were struggling with their own recruitment processes.
Providing our training externally is not something we’d done before but their recruitment needs didn’t necessarily fit into the industries we cover, so we thought why not, and sent our Head of Talent Acquisition Josh Reavenall over to see them.
As a company, we’re passionate about providing the best, most efficient, and most ethical recruitment service possible, and generally helping raise the bar for industry standards. So I thought I’d share some excerpts of this training here in the hopes it can help someone else too.
Have a read and let me know what you think. Maybe some of these tips can help you develop, grow, succeed as our training has done to many past and present NonStoppers.
Let’s start at the beginning. What is advertising? Essentially it’s a piece of communication designed to raise awareness of, and ultimately sell a product. Good advertising elicits an emotional response in the viewer that encourages them to buy.
This is all well and good for a company with a product to sell such as Coca Cola, adidas, or Lego et al. It’s true job ads are not selling a product, but that doesn’t mean they can’t follow the same principles of selling and creating an emotional connection.
When written well, job ads should be visible to your ideal candidates, promote your role and your brand, and encourage people to apply. Again, if you use a recruiter such as NonStop, we’ll do this on your behalf but if you want to take a crack at it yourself, here are some of the key points to consider:
- Where will you post the ad? If you intend to post to LinkedIn [tag] for example, check what they say about writing ads. If you can adapt your ads to their style [link], you’re much more likely to benefit from the search algorithm.
- Introduction and hook. Just like the candidate call mentioned in my first post [link], use your introduction to start selling. Include something that will hook your reader in and convince them to stop scrolling and start reading the rest of your ad.
- What is the job? Who are you as a company? What benefits do you offer? These things can all be turned into subheadings with bullet points listing what you offer (search algorithms love subheadings and bullet points!)
- Call to action. Don’t just finish your ad with a list of benefits. Tell people what you want them to do next! For example: “If this role interests you, click the apply button below, or contact us for more information”.
- SEO (search engine optimisation). This is a tricky one for a lot of people to get their heads around and to be honest, as our marketing & communications manager Sarah Marquet often tells us, the algorithm is always changing. But this doesn’t mean you can’t adopt some core principles to help your ad gain more visibility. Namely keywords. What search terms might your ideal candidate be using to search for their next role? Make that the title of your ad and work that same phrase naturally into the body of the ad five or so times. It’s important to make sure you add it naturally rather than a whole section of keywords. Today’s algorithms are smarter than that! It’s not always possible but if you can, get the location and the salary in there too, as well as the key points mentioned above in the structure section.
Take a look below and read up on FAB selling. This is a great thing to include in your adverts to elicit that emotional response. Of course, you will not yet know your candidates’ needs, so keep it broad. Or think about what your candidates typically like. For example, a lot of coders and programmers like to work remotely. Is that something your company offers?
You’ve posted some ads but are not getting much response. What else can you do to boost your talent pool?
If you use LinkedIn or have access to the CV databases of job boards such as Indeed, Monster, CV Library, Reed et al, you will be able to search for candidates with the skills and experience you are looking for. This is particularly important when candidates are scarce as the best likely aren’t looking for a new role.
I’m sure you’ve all used Google to search for something. How many relevant or irrelevant results did you get from your initial search? If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been frustrated at the results on more than one occasion.
To maximise the efficiency of these searches and really narrow in on the most relevant candidates, we recruiters use something called Boolean searching (maybe some tips to bear in mind for your own CV if you’re looking for a job!)
We do this by enclosing our search terms in quote marks and using simple commands such as AND, OR, NOT to tell the search engine what should or should not be included in the results.
Your results should then be filtered something like this:
For example, say I’m looking for a social care recruiter in London. If I use the search term “social care recruiter London”, I will likely get results showing some recruiters (regardless of the sector), some social workers, and probably anyone who mentions London in their CV. Think about the sheer amount of time it would take me to go through all those profiles to find a social care recruiter in London.
What I want to do is apply Boolean logic and search for “social” AND “care” AND “recruiter” AND “London”.
You can even use this logic with the OR command to expand the search to other locations, for example, “social” AND “care” AND “recruiter” AND “London” OR “Manchester”.
Of course, it can get a lot more complicated than this. I’ve seen recruiters with A4 pages covered in one Boolean search term. But this is a good starting point.
Now your Boolean searches have generated a list of potential candidates, you can start contacting them about your job. Keep reading for advice about using sales techniques to generate interest in your role and turn some of them into applicants!
Elements of a Successful Candidate Call
As a recruiter, HR professional, or anyone else involved in hiring people, your aim is to find the right person for the role, right? Say you’ve got a stack of CVs from applicants, all with decent skills and experience matching your requirements. The next step is obviously to speak to them, but how can you make sure they actually are the right person for the role? Here’s a quick summary of some of the things we consider:
- Emotional response – how do they look or sound when you speak with them, when you question them, when you present information? Are they positive and happy, do they seem nervous, are they engaged in the conversation with you?
- Your introduction – introducing yourself and the role is a great opportunity to add some selling points. Remember, candidates are a scarce commodity in this current climate and if you want the best, you need to put in some effort to convince them this is the right role for them too.
- Needs gathering – what does the candidate want or need from their next role? Does this align with what you can offer? Be sure to ask some clarifying questions to really understand exactly what it is they want and what is important to them. Sometimes they initially might not even know themselves.
- Fact-finding and screening – before the call, make sure you have some prepared questions to test the claims on their CV and make sure they do have the relevant experience.
- Sell your role – use all the knowledge you have gained in the call so far to sell the role back to the candidate. As mentioned, if you want the best, you need to show them you are their best choice. It’s a two-way street, and this should ensure a longer-term, happier, more aligned employee too. Think back to the information you gleaned in your needs gathering and remind them what your company can offer based on what they want or need. If nothing aligns, maybe this isn’t the best candidate for you, or the best role for them.
- Pre-closing – go back through your conversation and clarify all the points you have covered. Confirm their interest in the role. Confirm their availability for start dates or further interviews. Check with them if there is anything that would potentially hold them back from moving forwards with you. Do they have any doubts about the role or your company?
- Close the call – check with them (gain their commitment) about moving to the next steps. Do they want to continue?
As a recruitment company, we take care of these calls on a client’s behalf but these are still important points to remember because at some point you will be interviewing the candidates yourself too.
Needs-Based and FAB Selling
I know sales is often a dirty word. It conjures up images of a slimy used car salesman. Rightly or wrongly, Hollywood movies and the like have made many of us cringe at the thought of sales. But that is far from the kind of selling I’m talking about here.
If you saw my previous post, you will have seen me mention we (businesses) are no longer in a position where if we open a role, we’re overwhelmed by candidates. It’s a different market now as most businesses try to expand post-pandemic and unemployment rates are just about the lowest I’ve ever seen.
This means if you want the best candidates for your roles, you need to work harder to convince them your company is right for them. You need to sell your company and the role to them. If you utilise a professional recruitment consultancy such as NonStop, we take care of most of this for you, but it’s still important to bear these things in mind when you interview the candidates we send your way.
Essentially what you want to do here is take the information we have learned about the candidate’s wants and needs, and highlight how our company can fulfil them. It’s not that slimy used car salesman trying to fob off a rust bucket with a pack of lies. It’s a simple highlighting of how your company can fulfil their needs. It’s needs-based selling.
How would that work in reality?
Say you have a candidate with young children. You’ve determined through your needs gathering that their main requirement is if a child gets sick and can’t attend daycare, their role could be flexible enough to allow alternate working arrangements such as flexi-time or work-from-home options.
Great, that is something your company can support. What we do now is remember the acronym FAB (features – advantages – benefits) to present this information back to the candidate. Tell them the features (your company has a work-from-home policy), present the advantages (this gives people the flexibility to fit work around urgent life events), and highlight the benefits to this person (so you can work from home to take care of your child if they can’t attend daycare). Why not also paint the picture for them using real examples of similar people (parents with young children) in your company who have been in this situation?
Remember, you’re not an unethical used car salesman. You don’t ever want to lie to your candidates. This is obviously not ethical and will undoubtedly cause issues for you long term.
Managing the Process
Great, you’ve got some ads out, got some applications in, you’ve been calling through some of them. What’s next?
My number one piece of advice is to make sure you manage the process well. Block leakages in your funnels, maintain candidate interest, and continuously pre-close your candidates and you will make the most of your talent pool. This is especially crucial for companies with long recruitment processes. You don’t want to lose candidates to your competitors, especially given the amount of time, money, and resource it takes to find great candidates.
As we know, people are not fully predictable. We have lives, family, pets, ambitions and problems. As recruiters, we want to check whether any of these things could become a potential issue for the recruitment process. We want to continuously check and reconfirm the information we know about the candidate and continue to sell the benefits of the role to them. For example, if you know your candidate’s main frustration with their current employer is a lack of project-based work, has that changed or is that still the case? If it has changed, the potential benefits they see in your role might have changed, or maybe they would be more likely to take a counter offer from their current employer.
Things will change. Be it family, other job offers or maybe they received some misinformation about your company. Rarely will candidates be forthcoming about these changes, hence investing some time in staying in touch continuously pre closing will more likely bring these changes to light, help you handle objections or issues early on, and keep the candidate interested.
I hope this quick overview proves useful for some readers. I you have any questions or feedback, let us know here.