Recruiting is a tough game. There’s more noise out there than ever before and, at the same time, dozens of other companies are often targeting the same candidates you really need.
Stacy Zapar is here to help. The longtime recruiter and current owner of her own recruiting consulting business, Tenfold, gave a presentation at Talent Connect Anaheim entitled “Stacy’s Secret Sauce: How to Recruit Like a Boss.” In it, she gave a plethora of valuable tips that any recruiter can adopt today in order to stand out from the competition.
Attendees loved Zapar’s presentation, giving it the highest rating of any single session at Talent Connect Anaheim. Six of her best actionable tips were:
1. “The Friday Feedback Blitz” – Use each Friday afternoon to update your active candidates
One thing Zapar preaches is the importance of providing a great candidate experience, and for good reason. Candidates who said they were treated well by companies during the hiring process are more likely to take an offered job, encourage others to apply to the company, apply again if they are rejected and are even more likely to be a consumer of the company’s products.
In that vein, Zapar marks off the last three hours of her Friday afternoons specifically for the “Friday Feedback Blitz.” During that time, she updates every candidate in the interview pipeline via email, text, or phone, giving them a quick update of where they stand.
Often, it’s just as simple as saying the company is still wrapping up interviews for the position and the candidate will hear back early next week, Zapar said. But that one message ensures that all of her active candidates go into the weekend knowing exactly where they stand, giving them peace of mind rather than assuming the worst.
“All of my candidates know that they’ll never go more than a week without hearing from me. And that there’s an open door where they’re welcome to reach out anytime if they have any questions or updates along the way,” she says.
2. “The Black Hole Buster” – Close the loop with candidates who apply but don’t get selected to interview
Not only does Zapar personally sign off on everyone who interviews and isn’t hired, something all recruiters should do to improve candidate experience. Before closing a req, she also reaches out to everyone who applied and didn’t even get selected to interview.
She does this by sending one customized template email to them all once the job is filled. “This is one instance where it’s okay to send a bulk message to multiple candidates,” Zapar said. “Candidates appreciate getting closure, even if the news isn’t good. And I am always sure to include a way for us to stay in touch going forward.”
The email she sends reads like this:
Dear (Filled name),
Thank you so much for applying for the (specific position) at Acme Company.
At this time, we decided to promote an internal employee in the role (or hire an employee referral, etc.), but we really appreciate your interest in Acme and would definitely be interested in considering you again for future openings.
In the meantime, I’m happy to stay in touch with you personally. Here’s a link to my LinkedIn profile and I’m happy to connect with you there. By the way, I’m pretty well connected here in town, so if you see a position at another company, I’m happy to forward an introduction request to the recruiter or the hiring manager at that company.
In case it’s helpful, feel free to follow my blog, which includes lots of networking, LinkedIn and job search tips.
Lead Recruiter at Acme
Granted, some recruiters might be uncomfortable giving out their LinkedIn profiles or email, but for Zapar, it was just a way for her to build her talent pipeline and develop even more relationships with people who could potentially turn into candidates or referral leads.
Additionally, that one bulk email – signed by a real person with a real title and a real email address – serves as an unexpected surprise to applicants who often apply and never hear anything back, falling into the proverbial recruiting black hole. Not only does it make for a better candidate experience, you’re also boosting your personal brand, your employer brand and growing your network with candidates who’ve already expressed interest in your company.
3. “The Shortcutter” – Use every tool out there to work smarter, not harder
While Zapar is willing to put extra time into important things like creating a great experience for candidates, she doesn’t want to waste any unnecessary time on menial tasks that could be automated.
Examples? Well, she believes in having an auto-scheduler, which drastically cuts down on her number of emails. Instead of back-and-forth emails wasting precious time to schedule interviews and phone screens, it’s all done in one email link. And while she will personalize each message, she does work off of customizable templates so as not to have to rewrite messages from scratch every time. She also uses autocorrect hacks to fill in sentences or closings she writes over and over again.
Bottom line, there are a thousand hacks out there for people looking to save time at work. Zapar recommended using them, giving you more time to focus on the work that really matters.
4. “The Pipeliner” – Start looking to fill positions even before they open
One of the best ways to avoid stress during recruiting is to be proactive, instead of reactive. A great way to do that is to have talent pipelined for when jobs do open up, Zapar said.
To do that, Zapar tags her “silver medalists” – i.e. candidates who were your second choice candidate if your first choice didn’t accept the offer – in her ATS for future positions and works to keep a relationship with them.
She also makes sure to connect with every candidate who crosses her path, so they can stay in touch down the road. Also, she does her best to plan for what positions are likely to open up, and starts networking to find possible candidates for the role. Some teams are even dedicating resources to source for hard-to-fill roles that are slated to open 3-6 months from now. That way, they know exactly who they want to bring in to interview the day the position officially opens. Genius!
Her ultimate goal – start each new search with at least a few viable candidates already in the hopper.
5. “The Weekly Meeting” – Really build a relationship with your hiring manager
Many hiring problems often are the result of poor communication between the hiring manager and the recruiter. To combat that, Zapar believes in scheduling weekly 30-minute meetings with her hiring managers for each position.
In those meetings, she’ll commit to bringing the hiring manager a fresh batch of 7-10 resumes of potential candidates, which they’ll go through together if they have time. Conversely, the hiring manager will give her feedback on any interviews they might have done since the last meeting.
The goal is to keep things moving forward, stay on the same page throughout the process, and avoid any of the finger pointing that happens when communication breaks down, Zapar said. It also helps build rapport if you’re meeting with your hiring manager regularly. “No more blame game or throwing anyone under the bus when a role isn’t filled quickly. We’re both in this together.”
6. “The Crowdsourcer” – Share what you know with the world and they’ll share back
One of Zapar’s core beliefs is to always give back. Knowledge sharing is one way to do this. She has a blog, speaks at conferences, volunteers for organizations like #HROS and the Candidate Experience Council and is active in social media groups, all in an effort to help recruiters and job seekers alike.
Granted, you can build your own brand doing that, but that’s not why you should do it. It’s a great way to give back, share what you know and learn from others. But even more than that, Zapar encourages recruiters to share their knowledge because it is the right thing to do, and when we all share and learn from each other’s successes and mistakes, it furthers the entire industry.