Leveraging Alumni to Fill Open Roles

Have you considered the role alumni (or former employees) can play in your recruiting and hiring strategy? If not, it’s time to take a closer look at this important group of talent.

Unlike any other group of talent you may be in touch with (e.g., employee referrals or inbound applicants) you already personally know your alumni. They’ve already completed your interviewing and vetting process. You also know their skills, career goals, and work ethic. And your team has spent time working with them in the past.

Your familiarity with your former employees makes this group a critical piece of your talent relationship management (TRM) puzzle. As a refresher, TRM is the HR and business practice of building and nurturing long-lasting relationships with talent and then sourcing candidates from that pool when looking to fill open roles. 

So where do alumni fit in? Let’s dig in further.

Why alumni make great candidates for future roles

You might think that when someone chooses to part ways with your organization that they’re gone forever. But the reality is that good employees can and will leave your organization for many reasons and most of the time it’s not because of a negative attitude toward you as an employer. Maybe they felt they didn’t have room to grow in their role. Or they wanted to gain different experiences you simply couldn’t offer. 

Regardless of why they left, former employees who performed well at your organization and left on good terms are always worth staying in touch with for two reasons. First and most obvious is that they’d make great candidates because, well, they’ve worked for you before. They’ve already proven they can do the job and they have organizational knowledge of your business. There’s also a chance they’ve upskilled and gained additional experience while they were employed elsewhere that would make them even more valuable to your business than they were before. 

The second reason you should stay in touch with alumni is to leverage their networks for referrals. When you think of referrals you typically think of generating referrals from existing employees, but former employees can make referrals too! You can even incentivize them in the same way you incentivize your existing team with cash bonuses.

What’s more, most of your former employees are open to both returning to your organization and participating in alumni referral programs. In fact, a recent Hireology survey found that 67% of job seekers would be open to returning to organizations they’ve previously worked for. And 86% said they’d refer a friend to a company they no longer work for if the experience was positive there

How to engage alumni

First, you’ll want to build a centralized database that houses all of the former employees. Of course it’s important to only include folks you want to stay in touch with — those who left on good terms and have the potential to be successful should they return. This might require adding a step during offboarding to identify whether or not the departing employee would make a good addition to your alumni database.

Next you’ll want to stay in touch with them strategically over time. You might want to set up a regular messaging cadence where you share open roles, invite them to apply, or incentivize them to refer a friend. Additionally, you should share any company updates that will keep your organization top of mind for them, such as:

  • Changes in your employee benefits and other offerings
  • Company milestones such as years in business
  • Exciting company wins such as office expansions

Of course the best way to maintain a database of alumni and remain in touch with them regularly is with purpose-built technology. Look for an advanced applicant tracking system that allows you to easily maintain, group, and search for contacts. And the best tools will allow you to automate messages to those contacts via text or email directly from the platform.

Alumni are an often overlooked group of talent when it comes to recruiting. Strategically engaging with this group can help you make better hires and fill your open roles faster. And automating this process can not only improve your outcomes, but also free up your team’s time to focus on the human touch often required in recruiting and hiring. Stay tuned for some exciting updates to come from Hireology!



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