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Picture two journeys.

Journey 1:

You are a candidate. You research potential employers. You’ve updated your resume. You wrote that cover letter. And you went through a 20-minute-plus application process to submit your application. You receive a confirmation email that your application was received. A day goes by. Three days go by. A week goes by. Nothing. Not a single email saying you’ve been taken out of consideration. Not a call from a recruiter or hiring manager. Just nothingness and uncertainty.


The above scenario is what everyone in talent acquisition knows as the “black hole” in recruiting (i.e., enter the ATS and rarely come out). I’ve seen hundreds (if not thousands) of presentations on this black hole and how we need to fix it in the candidate experience. And we should. I’m all for setting better expectations and improving communication with candidates who apply – and organizations are improving in this area. But let’s picture journey #2 for a second.


Journey 2:

You are a candidate. You research potential employers, looking at a number of different organizations you could bring your talents to. Dissecting their brand, their culture, their purpose. Determining if you are a right fit for them and they are a right fit for you. You’re not ready to apply today, but you want more information. You want to know more about these organizations, their people and the value they provide to their people. You sign up for their talent network so you can stay in touch, learn more about them and see new opportunities (because that’s what the talent network promised). You get a confirmation email after you sign up. Great, it worked, and you’ll be receiving future messages. Or so you think…

But then:

  1. A week goes by. A month goes by. Two months go by. And nothing. What you signed up for never comes. Your life, and your research for a better opportunity, goes on. Instead of fueling your interest with information to help you make an informed decision, the brand you raised your hand for gives you nothing but silence. And they become nothing to you. OR…
  2. You start getting emails that are lists of jobs. They aren’t branded, and the jobs aren’t relevant to you. They come every week (maybe every day). There’s nothing about values or people or culture or projects. There’s nothing human. They are spam. You unsubscribe in less than a month.


Journey #2 is the new black hole in recruiting. Companies across the world are building talent pipelines that are going un-nurtured or spammed by jobs. And data proves it.


Talent acquisition is notoriously bad at nurture.

Earlier this year, SmashFly released our 2016 Recruitment Marketing Report Card for the Fortune 500 – and the results clearly proved this new black hole.

In this year’s report, we saw an increase in the number of companies that capture leads via job alerts or talent network on their career sites. This is an important advancement in proactive hiring, as organizations look to build relationships with candidates much earlier in the recruiting process.

The problem is that once they get candidates to opt in, they fail to send them anything of value. Get ready to have your mind blown: Of the organizations that captured candidate information for job alerts or a talent network: 48% of them never sent an email to them after confirmation. 48%!!!!!!!!

That means one out of two candidates who are interested in an employer and sign up to learn more never receive a message back. What a way to deliver on a promise to a candidate who could have been your next great hire. Plus, think about all the interested candidates who are now turned off by your brand – even worse, share that experience.)

What’s more, is that only 1% of organizations sent content other than jobs to candidates!

Think about it. Job alerts are fine for candidates that know they want to work for you and are looking for the right position. But think about the candidate that is not ready to change careers just yet, the candidate that needs to be convinced to take the leap (the majority of people today). These are the candidates you need to communicate to about your culture, brand and value. This is Generation Why.


Hiring Generation Why requires a brand-led, relationship-based strategy.

Generation Why is impacting how we recruit. People today, regardless of generation, have a uniquely personal reason for they why they work, where they work, how they work and who they work with. And that decision is changing:

  1. Candidates make decisions much earlier: The mindset of a candidate has shifted with consumerism. 57% of all purchase decision making happens before a person ever talks to a company. That means one thing: the way companies represent and communicate their brand, culture and value helps attract quality talent to consider applying – the first major hurdle. And awareness is a major hurdle!
  2. Candidates care about who they work for and with, not just the job they do: 69% of candidates are more likely to apply to an organization with a positive employer brand. Candidates increasingly care about the organizations they will be working with, about the culture, about how their purpose fits with that of the organization. Jobs are becoming a distant second in the decision-making process for candidates. Get buy-in for the organization first, then market jobs that will fit their skillset.

These evolving expectations are flipping talent acquisition on its head, forcing employers to think through not how they better market their jobs, but how they better market their brand and align with candidates’ “why.” Talent acquisition leaders, along with the C-suite, need to prioritize their efforts, resources and time to be successful in attracting and hiring this emerging generation of thought in the workforce.

The point here is simple:

Just-in-time recruiting just doesn’t work anymore! Organizations need to get infinitely better at building and maintaining relationships with candidates over time, when the opportunity is right for both parties: right-time hiring.

If you can’t communicate your value and brand to candidates well today, you’re in trouble. If you can’t communicate your value and brand over time (months and years) with target candidates, you will be on the verge of extinction.


Let’s fix the talent network black hole.

The talent network black hole is hurting your business more than the ATS black hole ever will. It’s turning away interested candidates who never got to apply due to the lack of communication, lack of relationship, lack of brand, ensuring you’re never even in consideration for that candidate’s next career move.

A talent network and nurture strategy provides a tremendous opportunity to differentiate your organization and your employer brand against your competition; to build relationships earlier with skilled candidates; and to nurture relationships into meaningful interactions that make you a top choice employer when that person is ready to for a better opportunity; and to fix the real black hole of communication that’s plagued the candidate experience for so long.

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