For decades, the talent acquisition (TA) process ended the moment a new employee put on a nametag or settled into a cubicle. Recruiters wished new hires well and turned their attention to the next candidate. Simple yes, but rewarding? Questionable. Hiring was a transaction, one that required standardized approaches and minimal effort. You posted, you waited, you got a bite, you hired.
Patrick Rooney, Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer at Symphony Talent states, “Today, candidate relationships start well before a job hunt begins and grow stronger across multiple touch points. It’s no longer enough to have a short game; recruiters need a strong (well organized) long game too. Long term relationships built on trust will grow in importance as highly skilled alumni and current contractors are absorbed into the open talent marketplace and constantly re-engaged for project level work.”In today’s digital landscape, relationships are kick-started organically by the content we digest, the pictures we see, the stories we read. With that said, employee advocacy is more important, more critical than ever when it comes to talent acquisition’s bottom line -- the question at hand is how do you get your people, your employees behind your story and open to share it?
Employee Advocacy Explained
Before delving into the ways advocates can contribute to talent acquisition, a brief explanation of employee advocacy is in order. An employee advocate is an evergreen recruiter who is always on, always connected, and an organic brand messenger empowered to help advocate for your company and, ultimately, attract top talent. Advocates post on Facebook, publish pictures on Instagram, send out tweets, or spread the word in other ways via other channels. And the content they post could be their own or suggested by their employers or both—whatever makes the most sense for the TA strategy.
With the ability to share honest stories and content that reflect your employer brand across a variety of social networks, your employees organically begin to take on unique new role inside your company -- they become your power content contributors, your power ambassadors, your incognito recruiters.
Advocacy and the Modern Candidate
The modern candidate demands trust. They demand transparency, they want a floodgate of information available to them at a moment’s notice or a feed’s refresh. At the end of the day, candidates crave raw information -- raw information you get from people, you get honesty from people. Rooney continues, “So who do we trust? We now trust “someone like ourselves” more than we trust academic and technical experts. Without a doubt the most trusted spokesperson to communicate what it’s like to work for your organization is your employees. In an era of greater distrust comes a higher demand for transparency. Every organization is now stack ranked via Glassdoor and must compete for talent’s attention using the strength of their employer brand and the authenticity of their employee advocates. If either part of that equation is missing, talent will simply take a pass.”
Sounds a bit familiar right? Again, consumer advocacy makes a play into recruitment marketing -- something we are getting more accustomed to everyday.
Talent acquisition experts not just taking pages from the consumer marketing playbook, they are recognizing the invaluable connection between candidate and consumer. Madeline Laurano, co-founder of Aptitude Research Partners, says, “Organizations competing for talent acknowledge that candidates are consumers. If companies have not already embraced this truth in order to find, understand, and attract the best talent, the time is now.”
We now it has a place at the table, but in what way? How does Employee Advocacy play into the larger game of recruitment?
Advocacy and the Talent Lifecycle
Talent acquisition in 2017 is a complete life cycle, a unique experience -- not a one-way trip or at least it shouldn’t be! The journey candidates take through the hiring process guides them through multiple personalized and integrated touch points along the way. On the surface, employee advocacy seems like the final step in that journey, but dynamically, it loops back into the journeys of other candidates.
With the rise of omni-channel talent acquisition strategies and solutions, advocacy takes on a bigger role—candidates are connecting in more places than ever, and your advocates are there to promote your all-important employer brand. This new approach is employee advocacy on steroids, and it helps not only to amplify your brand message, but also to turn your engaged workforce into recruiters who play an innovative role in your TA efforts and restart the life cycle over and over and over….
Why Advocacy Helps
Candidate experience throughout the talent life cycle has become a core requirement of talent acquisition. With so many employment choices available in today’s candidate-driven environment, an unimpressed, or disengaged candidate will shift interest to another company without thinking twice. Organizations must keep a candidate’s rapt attention throughout the hiring process. Organizations must leverage the true voice of their employees to help initiate transparency and personalization throughout the candidate experience.
Employee advocacy helps because it connects candidates to current employees in ways that weren’t possible even a decade ago. Candidates consume content posted by advocates and may even engage in a dialogue with them, thus creating a connection not often established through traditional TA strategies. Social media users feel added trust from posts made by people they know—and with advocacy, candidates are, in essence, meeting and getting to know your workforce. The candidate experience improves, and that improvement is sustained all the way through hire, hopefully enough to turn new employees into advocates themselves.
How to Facilitate and Encourage Employee Advocacy
As employee advocacy emerges as an important piece of the talent acquisition life cycle puzzle, providers are incorporating various capabilities into their end-to-end TA solutions, such as what Symphony Talent does with its X-Cloud. For example, our gamification features activate and challenge employees to become stronger advocates. Furthermore, a kick-butt experience before and after hire can turn workers into evangelists—and the best talent acquisition solutions begin kicking butt long before an employee’s first day.
The “end” of end-to-end solution is somewhat misleading because employee advocates amplify your brand messages and drive high-quality referrals for future waves of candidates. The key is extending talent acquisition strategies beyond hire. No one likes any exciting journey to end; fortunately, with advocacy, your employees continue their odysseys as corporate citizens and recruiters.
How is advocacy fueling your talent acquisition strategy?