Employers: it’s time to engage with your talent pool

Employers & recruiters: it's time to engage with your talent pool

Having just dipped my toe back into the employment market, it’s interesting to be gathering some first hand insights into the good, the bad and the ugly of the candidate experience. So far, it’s been a roller-coaster ride that ranges from the incredibly professional, through to mind-boggling unprofessionalism.

What the application process shares in common is the way candidate resumes and personal details are captured by non-human systems that spit back faceless “no-reply” messages to which you cannot respond, without so much as an indication as to whether it has been viewed by human eyes.

Which got me thinking… with all this incredible candidate information being collected, what are recruiters and employers actually doing with it to keep their firm or organisation ahead of their competitors while providing the best candidates?

Talent pooling is nothing new, however having now engaged with several prospective employers and recruitment agencies, I’m yet to experience any talent pool messaging, engagement, or contact. Now, perhaps this is because I don’t ‘fit’ a certain criteria for contact or I’ve simply not ‘made it’ into a talent pool at all. But if you consider the undoubtedly thousands of applications an organisation or recruitment agency receives for various roles, surely with some well thought out, creative and engaging communication to candidates, these companies are sitting on recruitment gold? Right?

Wrong! Take the example of a recruiter through whom I applied for a role recently. Having called them and after a (very) brief discussion, I was encouraged to send my cover letter and CV. I requested an email address, but was told to just apply via the link. I raised my preference for building a relationship with her rather than with a software application and was told, “you’ll be in our talent pool this way”. This firm markets themselves as connected and candidate-focused, yet the only communication I received from them was an automated rejection to a role I had only discussed, but not actually applied for, and a newsletter which covered their recent business wins and a few recruiter profiles. Absent was anything around how they might assist in connecting candidates with potential opportunities and employers with active candidates.

With a wealth of information at hand, it’s perplexing to find there’s little engagement, either around the employment market in general, specific job categories, roles that align with candidate’s experience, invitations to discuss career aspirations, or informal meet and greets with potential employers. Aside from setting up a job-alert that sends roles matched to selected criteria, there appears to be a distinct lack of anything personal, meaningful or useful.

As recruitment and search is an experience based on personal interactions, some basic questions come to mind.

  • When was the last time the candidate who registered months ago was called to see how their job search was progressing?
  • Did the employer call personally to let the candidate know that after two phone interviews and one Skype interview, they had been unsuccessful out of the final two candidates; or did they just get their ‘system’ to generate an automated response?
  • When was the last time personalised, relevant, and timely communication was received by the candidate who had taken the time to entrust an employer with their career history, aspirations and information?
  • When was the last time a candidate was ‘engaged’ as opposed to ‘processed’?

As an industry that, by its own admission, struggles with its image, the information gathered from candidates provides a golden opportunity to reclaim a positive position as a service that is highly personalised, intimate and genuinely concerned with the well being of candidates and clients alike.

More reading:

Why do companies struggle to define their employer brand?
Where did the ‘human’ go in Human Resources?
Is HR Social-able?


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