Keep Talent Engaged When You Don’t Have an Immediate Hiring Need

As a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many employers across industries have had no other choice but to make layoffs – at least temporarily – and put hiring on hold. And while nobody can predict how long the pandemic will have an impact on the broader economy, it’s important for any organization to have the right people strategy in place to navigate these uncertain times and drive success in the long run. 

If your team doesn’t have an immediate hiring need, you can still work toward building a pipeline of qualified candidates that you can tap into once active hiring picks back up. Below, we’ve highlighted some tips to build relationships with top talent – even if your hiring is on hold. 

1. Build a network of prospective job applicants

Highlighting open roles on your career site can help you attract job applicants for roles you need to immediately fill. But it’s also important for you to build a network of prospective job applicants for roles you fill on a regular basis or will likely need to fill down the road. To meet this need, you can also include an option for interested job applicants to join your network and hear about future open positions. 

One example of an organization that does a great job building a network or engaged job applicants is Zappos. The online shoe and clothing retailer receives more than 30,000 job applicants each year, but only hires about 300 roles. Because of strong interest from job seekers, Zappos reinvented its hiring process and employer brand by developing an “Insider Program.”

Instead of highlighting open open roles and accepting applications in a traditional sense, the Zappos Insider Program is essentially a network job seekers who are interested in working for the company at some point in the future. In just a few clicks, prospective job seekers can sign up for the program, and in return, they receive regular highlights about the company, its culture and team, as well as updates about potential roles Insiders might be interested in. The program is referred to as a special membership, which boosts job seekers’ excitement about the opportunity of joining the Insider Program and eventually working for Zappos. 

While your team might have hiring on hold for the time being, you can consider developing a program similar to the Zappos Insider Program. And with the right hiring platform in place, you can keep all data from prospective applicants centralized for easy access once you have immediate open roles. In doing so, you’ll already have a network of prospective candidates to tap into once hiring activity picks up, rather than starting the entire hiring process from scratch. 

Share relevant open roles with past applicants 

You might run into instances in which two qualified job applicants reach the final round of the hiring process, but you only have the option to hire one. Just because a job applicant doesn’t receive a job offer the first time he or she applies doesn’t mean they’ll never be a fit for your team. If this is the case, you’ll want to stay in touch with the other candidate about future open roles. 

By centralizing data about all job applicants in one place – such as an applicant tracking system and recruitment CRM platform like Hireology – you can easily engage previous candidates for future opportunities. The next time you have a similar open role, you can easily find the candidate’s contact information and share the role either via email or text message. Or if a candidate applied for a role, but based on his or her background and experience, you realize a different role would be a better fit, you can easily share this role with the candidate. 

Excite job applicants about joining your team 

While hiring might be on hold, it’s still important to keep your career site updated with engaging content to get job applicants excited about the possibility of joining your team. Beyond including an option to join your network of candidates, you can also share content and company updates that will excite job applicants about the opportunity joining your team presents. 

Compelling content you can share on your career site include: awards such as local “Best Places to Work” recognition, your employment brand video showcasing what it’s like to work on your team, company milestones, employee testimonials and success stories, and more. 

On your career site, you should also highlight any efforts your team has in place to keep your employees safe and healthy during these uncertain times. 

Set up informal meetings with qualified talent 

For top candidates you can’t hire right away and don’t want to miss out on, consider meeting with them informally every so often – set up a phone call or video call while social distancing guidelines are in place, and meet for either for lunch, coffee or something similar once these guidelines are lifted. 

When you do have ideal open positions for these candidates, they’ll remember all the time and effort you put into building the relationship and be more interested in applying. Even if candidates have secured other roles by this time, they might still be interested in joining your team. And if this doesn’t result in hiring the candidates you’ve been in touch with, supporting a positive candidate experience can lead to future job referrals and even new business.

By building relationships with job applicants, you can maintain a pipeline of prospective talent to turn to once these uncertain times are behind us. And you can also keep top talent excited about joining your team as soon as they express interest in your open roles. For more tips on engaging both candidates and employees as you navigate the implications of COVID-19, read our resource, “Staying Connected During Uncertain Times.” 



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