With candidates demanding more from recruiters, applicant tracking software alone isn’t sufficient to meet rising expectations. Marketing Automation could bridge the gap.


With the global economy steadily growing since the ’08 recession, job candidates are consistently in a better position to conduct their searches for a better career. Back in 2014, Deloitte author and recruitment strategist Josh Bersin succinctly described it this way: “The war for talent is over. Talent won.” The process of attracting candidates with in-demand skills is becoming increasingly competitive, and desirable candidates have growing leverage and more options. Plus, talent has near-total access to information about employers and brands, with around half of job seekers claiming that Glassdoor reviews have had significant impact on their perception of potential employers.

Adjusting to the new landscape

In the face of these new challenges, recruiters can no longer take a fire-and-forget approach to placement. They function now more as talent consultants, advising and negotiating career moves when candidates are ready for their next opportunity. This requires proactively attracting high-quality candidates, nurturing longer term relationships across multiple touch points, and acknowledging that the candidate experience has become increasingly consumerized.

Given this shifting landscape, recruiters need to develop increased capability as marketers. Most employment agencies have developed competencies around screening and selecting candidates, they aren’t quite up to snuff when it comes to generating demand, or nurturing it. Fortunately, marketing automation can provide recruiters with some of that muscle they need, and extend those sinews on the back end to continue connecting with candidates across those multiple touch points.

Keeping track of candidates

Automation helps staffing agencies work smarter and faster, without being spammy or robotic in tone. Marketing automation systems expedite the process by which you distribute jobs to boards, reformat job descriptions, email leads and capture additional skill qualifying information, and allow remarketing to candidates who aren’t hired. This last capability is particularly powerful. You can reenter old candidates into your funnel, and simultaneously capture new information about them and direct them to new opportunities. Without automation, you may be losing hundreds of candidates on which you’ve already expended resources.

Since the recruitment process has become more consumerized, candidates expect recruiters to be more transparent and communicative. However, it’s almost impossible to keep track of every candidate and personally respond to every inquiry they may have. In fact, as few as 40% of recruiters are even required to respond to candidates at all. Consequently, there are a lot of dropped touchpoints. When faced with this challenge, recruiters frequently have to engage in triage activities, spending all their time focusing on building stronger relationships with candidates who appear better-qualified, and often ignoring everyone else. A single, automated message, written in an authentic, on-brand voice, detailing next steps and when a candidate might expect to hear back ensures that all candidates receive that messaging without making additional demands on the recruiter’s time.

getting the most from your candidate pool

Setting up relevant triggers and workflows can also be a powerful mechanism to improve your pipeline. For example, setting a reminder email for applicants who don’t complete their applications within 72 hours of an application deadline could result in more completions. What kind of results might you expect from such a tactic? The Cheesecake Factory fired off 1,000 automated emails in the manner described above, and generated 182 new hires, all without any additional effort from a single staffer. Similarly, when your talent pools are properly segmented, you can push relevant, targeted emails to passive candidates, or respond to new actions they may take.

Establish candidate scoring to rank and prioritize candidates through marketing automation as well, to ensure that you’re actually spending time on higher quality candidates. Scoring could be based on any number of relevant factors: years of experience, interaction with collateral (are they even opening those emails?), expected salary, or rankings on skills (On a scale of 1-10, how proficient are you with Excel? Which of the following skills do you consider yourself an expert in? etc.). Messaging can be tailored to each stage of the pipeline, saving time and keeping candidates happy.

Marketing automation is a powerful tool that provides a better experience for applicants, enables candidates to move through the process on their own time instead of the recruiter’s, allows staffers to address larger candidate volumes, and helps prioritize work flows.

Ryan Hickey Ryan Hickey

Ryan Hickey is a rapid-fire, coffee-drinking devotee of hard data. As the Director of Digital Strategy, he guides S4’s strategic approach to both internal and client work with a near-obsessive commitment to critical thinking and substantiation through methodical tracking and analysis. Ryan studied diplomacy at Georgetown and has been known to turn a poisoned pen to album reviews in his spare time.