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While the quick answer to this question probably is a “better job” (or just a job in general), what I’m really going for here is figuring out what really drives your candidate to want a position.  Sure this can be a high salary but there is also a whole other list of factors that can ultimately affect a candidate’s decision to apply from benefits to work/life balance.

While some of these factors will be consistent across disciplines, this hierarchy of wants will most likely change depending on the candidate populations and skill-sets your organization is recruiting for.  Marketing professionals, for instance, will most likely have much different preferences and wants than computer programmers or engineers.  So it’s important to try and understand the motivations of the key candidate types that you are recruiting for so that you can not only shape the positions that you are offering but also so you can greatly improve your messaging to them as well.

Work with your current employees to improve your messaging

When trying to determine the needs and wants of potential candidates, talking to your current employees can be a great first step.  These employees chose your organization for a reason and getting their input on the variety of factors that affected their decision can provide you with a terrific idea on what’s important to this type of talent.

And when I mention “what’s important” it’s not just benefits or what drives them but also key terms for messaging.  Justing Miller wrote a nice piece on the use of RockStar for programmers in job ads.  Things like this are great to ask your programming talent to gauge how you can best present your opportunities in your job ads.  Do they like being called RockStars?  Is there another term or messaging that really piques their interest?  Do they respect problems, tests or games in the job ad description?

With all this information, you will be able to create a candidate persona of sorts that you can begin piecing together on how you present and market your opportunities to different groups and then test it through your job campaigns.  Using key recruitment metrics you will be able to measure the effectiveness of these campaigns and compare how well your messaging is at converting candidates along every step in your recruitment funnel.  It is through these metrics that you can consistently tweak your messaging and improve it based on both the qualitative and quantitative information you are receiving.

Determine where different candidates hang out

Another area to address when speaking to employees is to get their thoughts on where would be the best place to reach candidates and most importantly how to approach them.  Is it a popular forum, a niche job site, a LinkedIn group, through referrals, etc.?  And when a recruiter goes on these channels what’s the best way to reach out to a potential candidate (FYI posting jobs to discussion forums only is never a good way to go about it.)  I’ve heard some horror stories on recruiters reaching out to tech talent specifically in ways that you can probably vet in these conversations.

While you should definitely utilize their input on this, also measure the effectiveness of all the sources you use.  Some of it will definitely be direct sourcing but also make sure to track the effectiveness of the job ads you post on job boards, niche sites and social media as well.  This can help you gain important insights into where you truly get the most value online in attracting these types of candidates.

Target your positions and messaging

Understanding what drives different candidate populations is the first step in developing the messaging and opportunities you provide to candidates.  This knowledge should affect not only what you offer in your positions but how you go about communicating what truly differentiates your employment opportunities.  The more you can improve in your ability to provide the right message in the right places, the more value you will get out of every one of your recruitment marketing campaigns.

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