Personalization is a prevalent buzzword in the talent acquisition space. Starting in the consumer experience with retailers like Amazon, Netflix and more, it’s now become a top priority for organizations’ candidate experience.
The trend toward personalization in talent acquisition is spot on. No matter our experience online, we all expect personalization in some form. We want to determine our own journeys and appreciate relevant, targeted content that speaks to our interests and needs. However, as I hear and read more about personalization in talent acquisition, I can’t help but get a little irked. The common narrative is that personalization is about delivering targeted jobs on the career site to candidates based on their personal information.
This narrative is shortsighted, so I’m going to myth bust some of the claims about personalization
Myth 1: Personalization is about jobs.
The basic premise around this point of view is that jobs, and thus job recommendations, are the most important content you can provide to candidates. This is not the case. While job recommendations are useful, they only impact a portion of your candidate audience.
A lot of talent acquisition leaders believe that jobs are what they sell to prospective candidates. I’m here to tell you they aren’t; brand and culture is what talent acquisition sells. Sixty-nine percent of candidates are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand. That means talent acquisition leaders, and more broadly, organizations, need to sell value as an employer of choice first to recruit quality talent. Not just jobs, but the people and culture that make or break the job.
If personalization isn’t just about job recommendations, how else can talent acquisition teams personalize the candidate experience? It’s about delivering valuable content that candidates truly care about when making the decision to apply. Content such as:
- Employee Stories: First and foremost, talent acquisition teams need to find authentic employee stories and deliver those stories to each prospective candidate based on their skills, interests, actions and channel. If I’m an engineer, I should receive videos about the projects that engineers at the organization are working on and why they are happily growing in the organization.
- Marketing Content: I guarantee your marketing team has content that your candidate audiences would find valuable based on their skills and interests. This might be industry news or key trends skilled workers need to know. The more knowledge you can provide to them, the more they will associate you as a leader in the industry and consider you as an employer of choice when the time comes in their career.
- Career Development Resources: Personalization is valuable because it is helpful. A simple way to personalize a candidate’s career search is to guide them through it. This is personalization by what stage a candidate is at in his or her journey. Use email nurture to give advice on the recruiting and application process once a candidate applies. Send talent network leads tips on resume building, social media networking and how to ask the right questions in an interview. You might also offer content that helps candidates develop industry skills or point them to resources that help them in their current roles.
- Open Jobs: Personalization through job recommendations can be valuable, but you need to understand who you’re personalizing for. When you build personalization through the candidate experience, job recommendations can help conversion with active job seekers who have already been sold on you as an employer of choice. A job itself is not differentiating; a Sales Manager job description from company to company is probably quite similar and not terribly enticing. But a job recommendation can ensure quicker conversion if you’ve properly personalized your brand, culture or employee value content to convince the candidate to search for a job.
These are the types of content that can help personalize an experience for candidates. Remember that no person wants to feel like they are being sold – and that’s precisely what job recommendations are meant to do. Talent acquisition leaders need to personalize content to help candidates to choose the right employer first and then help them find the right job for their skillset.
In Part 2, I’ll discuss the role of different channels in a personalized, high-touch approach.