All the free!🔬 (EBH#182: I Can Dream About You)
Behold the awesome power of making recruiters more effective and valuable!
Mission: Democratize Employer Branding (it is for EVERY company, even yours!)
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Employer brands don’t just belong to the big companies. They help smaller ones, too. In fact, smaller, more nimble and focused companies can build employer brands that run rings around “the big guys,” allowing them to compete for talent (and win) against anyone.
In the talent world, there are Davids and Goliaths. Employer brand is the sling.
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The Big Idea
As we talked about last week, doing great employer branding work using the free ideas and resources at your disposal is the surest way to make an impact and get access to the real money. That’s why all the newsletters in January will do a deep device into free stuff you can do RIGHT NOW.
This week: A better (free!!) candidate outreach strategy.
The biggest issue in recruiting outreach emails is that recruiters tend (tend! Not always! Tend!) to see them as one-offs.
They send a single email, usually some variation of something that worked for them years ago so they keep using it. They tend to look like this:
“Hello [name], I noticed that you posted [something about something] on LinkedIn and was really impressed by what you said. Clicking into your profile, I was struck by your experience and thought you might be interested in [role that they just happened to be recruiting for]. We’re an innovative company and you might be a great fit. Here’s the link if you’d like to learn more…”
Unsurprisingly, those emails have a pretty dire conversion rate. (Ahem, 🗑️🔥.) And having gotten no response, the recruiter moves on to the next person and does it again.
But as the employer brander, you are in a position to offer a different strategy that will almost certainly be more effective.
Instead of thinking of outreach as a “I have one shot to get them to look at the role,” get them to think in terms of outreach as a kind of simple campaign.
Campaigns are designed around the assumption that it takes multiple touch points to get someone to change their behavior (and… you know… apply for a job).
Here’s my suggestion for a mini campaign that I know increases conversion rates for recruiters.
The first email doesn’t ask for anything. Not a thing. It offers something of value. Maybe it’s a video that the team made to talk about their latest release, or a blog post that describes their approach to development, or your tech lead presenting their perspective on the trends coming next year within the industry. The email is just a friendly, “Hey, since you seem like a serious [function] pro, I thought you might like to hear how [quick description of the video]. Have a great week!” and that’s all. That’s ALL.
A few days later, another email where you don’t ask for anything at all. If you sent a video in the first one, send them a link to a white paper or blog post. The key is to make sure whatever you’re sending is clear value to the candidate. It can’t be some self-serving “look at our pretty office” or “look how fast our stock price is growing.” It has to be of value or this doesn’t work. Do not share a job. Don’t ask for anything!
The third email is where you make the turn. A little less than a week later you mention that you hope that the recipient saw some value in the content that was sent, how it is indicative of the kind of company this is. If they found it interesting, there’s an open role that the recruiter should love to share… Make sure when you pitch the job, you connect it to the first rounds of content, about the stuff shared in the videos or articles about the company.
This works because prospects are used to being asked for things: time, attention, application, etc. When your recruiters start giving instead of asking, it helps them stand out. When they do it again, it suggests that the first email was no fluke, and sparks the beginnings of a relationship with the recruiter. It shows that the recruiter “gets it” and isn’t here for the quick application. They might actually have the candidate’s best interests at heart.
The last email is where you give them an exit. Let them know that the recruiter understands that the timing isn’t right, and that if the candidate is willing, would they be okay with the recruiter pinging them in a few months with other opportunities?
So, where do you fit in?
First, you’re going to write all these emails for the recruiters. Yes, this will be some real work. But I assure you, this will pay off. One smart email used by a recruiter to engage a long-dead candidate turns into a “holy crap! it works!” slack message to the entire TA team very quickly. This kind of attention will bring more recruiters into your camp.
Second, you’re going to help them schedule these emails. Now, people often have to spend money on expensive CRMs to get this kind of functionality. So how can this be free? Well, you probably already have a basic CRM at your disposal. (I’m stunned by how many recruiting teams have a CRM installed but don’t use it at all.) Lots of ATSs and web platforms have them. Sourcing tools often have them built right into them. Maybe your sales team will give you access to their tools. If nothing else works, HubSpot and MailChimp (among others) offer simple free drip campaign systems that can be used for free (I don’t get any money from any of these companies).
Start with one recruiter and when this show results, expect more interest from others. And once you’ve got examples from recruiters showing how much more effective this model is than their usual, be prepared for recruiters to become greedy for your content. Those blog posts and videos you’ve been making are suddenly much more useful to them and they’ll want more. Yay! Which is good because you’ll eventually test to see if sending three free things before you ask them to look at a job works better than two free things, and suddenly, you’ve got even more content to build.
🔎 I suspect Alex Her wrote this article for two reasons.
To build a “so you’re an employer brander now, huh?” site that all newly minted (or drafted) EBers can use to figure out what their agenda should be.
To admit that he has a favorite Backstreet Boys song.
🔎 Do you ever get asked what the ROI of employer branding is? Of course you do! Reject the temptation to list metrics (it’s a trap!) and instead focus on what matters: The business.
🔎 Further reminders that just because you said it once doesn’t mean anyone heard it, remembered it, or even cared.
🔎 Unlike product marketers or consumer marketers, we don’t deal in ‘What’s. We deal in ‘Who’s. So how come we try to explain What our brand is instead of Who our brand is?
🔎 If your marketing team seems to be keeping all the marbles for itself, perhaps remind them that brands work best as bridges rather than silos.
🔎 Huh. It seems like TA is starting to realize that the job (and the offer) doesn’t have to be all about salary. That the subjective values matter a LOT more than we think to whether people accept that job. (Remember: you need to work 10x as hard to “prove” a subjective value, but the result when you do is pretty clear.)
🔎 If you understand why people like their job, you understand why people stay, but you also know why they showed up in the first place (and what you need to be communicating).
This is the last weekly installment of Employer Brand Headlines. After 182 editions (that’s 3.5 years without missing one Monday morning!), it’s time for a change.
I’m going daily.
The thing I notice with a weekly newsletter is that it takes me 3-4 hours to stuff it like a Christmas goose full of links, ideas, inspiration, thinking, and music from the 1980s. It’s a lot of work, and because it’s so big, it might feel daunting to read. Trust me, I’ve got some newsletters I subscribe to that are so long, they feel more like homework than inspiration or information. I don’t want to be that for you.
So starting tomorrow, you’ll be getting short emails every weekday. The same thinking will go into each one, but in this new model, I plan on spending some time showing examples, breaking things down and suggesting ways they can be better, alongside links and quotes and other thinking (… and I think it’s time to put an end to the 1980’s playlist. I know! I’m sad, too!).
I expect this to be a better way to help create a million employer brand thinkers, to help folks like you get even smarter about your talent attraction, hiring, retention and communication strategies.
If you hate this idea, please feel free to unsubscribe. I promise, we’ll still be friends.
“The rest of our lives will happen in the future,
so we might as well get with the program now.”
- Neal Stephenson
Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help you:
EVP Masterclass: Develop your own Employer Brand/EVP alongside other recruiting leaders in my next guided cohort.
Employer Brand Mastermind Group: Four months to hunker down with other employer brand pros and talk real shop. No topic off limits.
Coaching and support: Email me and we’ll set up time to talk 1:1 about how I can help you and your company take advantage of your employer brand.
Cheers and thanks!
-James Ellis (LinkedIn)
Read Talent Chooses You for free from this open source Google Doc.
Search all 1,800+ links historically referenced in the article archive.
Here’s the 2022 version of The Employer Brand Manifesto.
220+ episodes of The Talent Cast podcast.
Where the subject line came from:
Dan Hartman - I Can Dream About You
You have probably never heard of Dan Hartman, a white-boy soul singer with a Motown-ready voice. In fact, his most famous song, originally intended for Hall & Oates, got famous when someone else lip synced to it in a movie (the cheese-tactular faux-noir pop-art fever dream Streets of Fire (where lead Michael Pare has a sledgehammer fight on the street with Willam Defoe!>?$!) which is just hilarious in the right mood). In the movie, this song is the apex of the “plot” wherein the black soul band gets to show what they can do on stage (this, in the same movie with Rick Moranis as a sleaze-ball agent and… sledgehammer fight!), so we hear this song as a paid audience of extras pretend to flip out over the song.
It is easily the best marketing a song could ever have.
And this is the last in my EBH 80’s playlist, I wanted to go out on something perfectly 80’s. And I think this is it. A plastic soul tune milli vanilli-ed by a white guy who’s been in the industry forever but whose name no one knows, in a movie that was memorable only for being insane (I cannot stress how crazy the sledgehammer thing is), polished to a high sheen and making it to #6 in the US charts.
None more 80’s. Enjoy!
If you are enjoying the music, congratulations, you have great taste in music and/or you’re old! Just for you, I made a Spotify playlist of all the subject line 80’s songs I’ve referenced over the last year and a half. You don’t even need hairspray to enjoy it:
***This newsletter contains no ChatGPT***