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What Does a Candidate Nurturing Campaign Look Like

Candidate engagement is at the heart of our recruitment marketing efforts and, as we have shifted to a marketing mindset with campaigns and funnels, understanding how marketing automation and nurture campaigns work and adopting these same strategies for recruitment can be a game-changer in the current talent marketplace. In order to get a broad perspective on how nurture campaigns work in recruitment marketing, we’ll break it down into stages of the hiring funnel and discuss how each stage can be optimized within a campaign.

At the most basic level, lead nurturing in marketing is a series of emails (or other content marketing resources such as text messages or social posts) that are triggered by events in user behavior to deliver targeted information to help guide a prospect through the buying process. In recruitment marketing, the same principles apply, but we’ll substitute “candidate” for “user” and “prospective candidate” for prospect.

In general, nurturing campaigns in marketing lead to success. Recent content marketing research from Aberdeen shows that aligning content to specific stages of the buyer’s journey yields 73% higher average conversion rates for marketers who do so versus marketers who do not. And marketing automation is key to getting the maximum results from your efforts.

Candidate Nurturing and the Recruitment Marketing Funnel

Once a prospective candidate has been added to your recruitment marketing funnel, there are four primary touchpoints to consider when establishing the triggers and deliverables for your nurture campaigns.

1) Sourced candidate. This is any prospective candidate that tracks through to your job listing or career site from any source, including social channels, paid job listings, online ad campaigns, or organic search.

The nurture campaigns for sourced candidates are top of funnel. This is where you want to focus content marketing on awareness and consideration and sell your company as an employer brand, as well as highlight your exceptional workplace, employee value proposition, and job perks. This is also where you’ll want to encourage these first-stage prospective candidates to opt-in and subscribe to your newsletter or join your talent community on a social channels. This is an excellent opportunity to engage with “window shoppers,” or candidates who might be checking out your company but are not ready to leave their current position unless they have a compelling reason to do so. Your content marketing can give these passive job seekers the compelling reason.

2) Talent community member. These prospective candidates could be members of a LinkedIn or Facebook group in which you share industry-related content and open jobs, and candidates who signed up for your talent update email newsletter.

The nurture campaigns for these (now engaged) candidates should include content that serves them both short-term and long-term. Consider sharing content that is helpful within your industry in between highlighting your open positions, training and development, and employee value proposition. Share thoughts on changes in the workplace, highlight career trends in your industry or offer advice on resume building or interviewing. By sharing helpful content without expectation, you’re demonstrating that your company is an industry leader that supports all talent in your community, not just those who will eventually apply or work for your company.

3) Candidate who has applied and/or is in your hiring process. These candidates have moved past awareness and are actively engaged with your talent pipeline, either in consideration or in a screening or interview stage. The most important communication for this stage is going to be maintaining communication following application and during the interview process and keep candidates updated on next steps, what to expect, and when to expect it.

Consider setting up nurture campaigns that are automated but personalized, including: tips on parking and locating your company offices for in-person candidates, reminder emails ahead of an interview time, and information on how long a candidate should expect to wait before getting an interview time or other response. In a tight talent marketplace, not informing candidates of where they are in your hiring process could mean they quickly move on to another company that has responded more quickly than yours.

Related: Candidate Nurturing Best Practices for High-Volume Hiring

4) Alumni (qualified for rehire by your company). These candidates are former employees and are familiar with your company, brand and culture, they may have left your company for another position or to take time to raise children, return to college, or other reason, but are welcome to return and apply as a “boomerang” employee.

The information you’ll want to communicate to alumni is similar to your talent community, but with the added “ask” for referrals when sharing job opportunities. Employee referrals are an excellent and reliable source of hire; employees who left your company on good terms are just as good as your current employees at sharing information with their network. If they continue to engage with your company as a former employee, give them a reason to do it. Consider offering the same referral bonus payout to former employees as you do to your current employees, or other incentives for information sharing. This segment is going to be the most responsive to your content when you ask them to share open positions, encourage others to sign up for your talent newsletter, and social sharing.

Benefits to Candidate Nurturing

Candidate nurturing doesn’t have to be high-touch or high maintenance when you use marketing automation through your ATS or CMS (or third-party platform). According to a report from Adestra, marketers in general say that the biggest benefits of automation are saving time (74%), increased customer engagement (68%), and more timely communications (58%).

Marketing automation can differentiate between a candidate who just accepted a new job (who might be interested in tips to succeed in a new role) versus one who is still looking (who might be interested in interview advice) versus one who isn’t actively looking for a new job at all (who might be interested in a report on new trends in their industry). This is what helps you deliver the right content to the right person at the right time.

Personalizing Your Automated Messaging

While a completely hands-off approach isn’t possible for recruiters and talent acquisition teams, automating content for nurture campaigns can be as easy as setting up personalization fields that link to the candidate personas that mirror the four primary stages we’ve outlined here. The sheer number of channels through which prospective candidates engage with your brands means that automation is ultimately necessary to maintain relationships with candidates and execute effective nurture campaigns.