Raising the bar: Candidate Relationships

Inspired from a post originally published on Social Media Explorer

Recently, I have been a little focused, some may say obsessed, with lowering the bar. From talking about creating less content to my ideas on having a point in your social recruiting. I’ve been talking about being more deliberate, I’ve encouraged people to lower the bar in terms of being useful instead of human and being a trusted resource instead of a thought leader. Well, today, I want us to raise the bar on one thing: candidate relationships.

People are publishers now. These people are your candidates. And we desperately want to be in a relationship with them, the kind of relationship where they trade their time for our money over and over again. But currently, it’s a transactional relationship. One centered around jobs. And applications. It’s fleeting. And it is on-demand. When they need a job, they come see us. Until then, we don’t register in the daily life of our talent. Are there epic exceptions to this idea? Absolutely. But generally speaking, we are pretty distant in this relationship. We spend a lot of time posting, praying. And when we do email talent, it is from a “do not reply” box. Basically, we’re a bad boyfriend.

First of all we need to recognize that the current candidate relationship is more than the transaction and WAY more than having an email address, or an application. Having a relationship with talent, like with actual human people is deeper than either of these two tests that we normally view as a customer relationship. Relationships are two-way and should be mutually beneficial. They are not always one party waving their arms at the other party saying “Hey! Over here! Look at my JOB” This is where many brands live. Many brands think that having an email address = relationship. This is simply not the case. An email address is a piece of data. It is an indicator that you have a form that someone filled out to get something. In the best cases, the person who filled out the form actually checks that email address. So, the first step in building a relationship is admitting we currently don’t have a relationship at all; we have some data.

Talent relationships are valuable and if we really want to build one, we need to implement features that build trust and give the talent some authority over their data and your use of it. And I do not mean 100,000 word privacy policies that no one reads. I mean things like asking her how they wish to be contacted, if at all. How frequently they’d like to be contacted, if at all. And what would they like to receive from your brand? Then design content around those interests. Is this a perfect approach, nope, not at all, people will still pick the first choice in the list, but it is a little more useful to her by at least asking what kind of things she likes. These small changes show her you care about what she wants out of the relationship. It also might show you that your relationship is tenuous at best. You might see a lot of people say they don’t want to receive messages from you. Most people are too lazy to opt out; they simply delete or set up a separate email account for marketing messages because it is insanely easy to set up an email account. It isn’t sometimes as easy to opt out. Finding out their preferences and then living up to what you say, you will win trust, but you will still only have better data. But, at least you have an understanding of preferences.

When you have a better sense of the types of information they wants from you, start crafting content that helps them get that information from both you and from other sources. If they are looking for new ways to advance their career, share your ideas, but also share the ideas of others. If they wants to get inspiration, inspire them and curate in content from others that inspire them. Ask them how they understand your brand and what they would tell others to inspire them. Include them in the conversation.

In relationships, it isn’t a one-sided arrangement. It takes two parties to be in a relationship and if we want to have a relationship with our talent, we need to start caring about what they want out of the relationship beyond trading money for time. It’s time to raise the bar on customer relationships and remember that a relationship is grounded in respect and trust by both parties.