Job Alerts: The New 'Weapon' in the War for Talent

Job Alerts: The New 'Weapon' in the War for Talent
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Blessed with social networks, search engines and smartphones, the generation that grew up witnessing and experiencing the world’s digital transformation has higher expectations than ever when it comes to job seeking.

Related: 3 Reasons Why Your Hiring Process Is Killing Your Company

For businesses to win the ongoing war for talent, whether at a startup or Fortune 500 company, they must keep pace with how people expect to be communicated to and interacted with, whether those communications occur on the web or mobile.

That said, it’s no surprise that recruiters are starting to act and think more like marketers. A few weeks back, when TechCrunch highlighted what it called the next big thing in marketing -- notifications -- its description had some similarities to what’s happening in recruiting with job alerts.

Although what has been called "job alerts" has been around to some degree for a while, incorporating modern marketing best practices into how they’re used can pay off big.

For years, a fundamental shift has been taking place in marketing. That shift involves transitioning resources away from traditional outbound efforts that push information on to buyers (trade shows, billboards) and toward modern inbound efforts that pull them in with high-quality digital content (blogging, social media, SEO). 

But, here’s the rub: People have so much information at their fingertips that it’s practically impossible for companies to stand out. What’s more, with this “always-on” lifestyle, marketers aren’t competing just for attention on desktops; they’re competing everywhere there’s an Internet connection.

Enter notifications. Notifications offer a way to cut through the noise and reengage people who have interacted with your company in some way. This requires content that is valuable enough for users to opt-in in the first place; but once they’re in, this new trend is about offering something that will keep them interested and provide opportunities to come back.

Here, notifications provide a goldmine of opportunities for recruiters to cost-effectively and efficiently fight in the ongoing war for talent. Tailoring information to the skill set of each individual, job alerts allow recruiters to connect with interested job seekers time and time again. Traditionally, if a resume was passed over by a recruiter, or if there weren't any positions open at the time, the employer would likely never hear from that job seeker again.

There have always been, of course, job seekers who resurface because they are dead set on working at your company, but the reality is that many qualified job seekers never have a reason to come back.

Related:5 Insights for Attracting Millennial Talent Inspired by the App They Can't Resist

However, some innovative recruiting organizations have started including calls-to-action -- in many cases nothing more than a simple “enter your email address” -- that allow them to send job seekers notifications for similar positions that may interest them. Once job seekers opt-in, an automated system notifies them with intelligent "alert" emails when new positions are available that meet their qualifications and criteria (location, desired skills, etc.).

The best way to highlight the job alert’s value-add is to share a real world example: In 2013, one of the world’s largest consumer electronics retail chains was looking for a more strategic solution to help keep pace with fluctuating personnel demands, especially during the busy holiday season.

While the team’s initial thought was to increase the number of recruiters earlier in the year, so each could start building a talent pipeline in his or her respective region, the retail giant ultimately decided to deploy job alerts on its career site. The result was that it began to organically grow its talent pipeline faster than ever anticipated. Over the course of 2014, the company had more than five million job seekers sign up for job alerts. Moreover, traffic to its careers site grew almost ten times higher during that year than in the past, with a large number of candidates filling out applications sometimes more than 90 days after opting into job alerts.

With the new system in place, the company was able to reduce its cost-per-applicant by 99.8 percent, from $30 to just $.05. Today, the company’s recruiting organization has completely revamped its talent acquisition strategy around job alerts, and now has one of the most proactive approaches in the industry.

When it comes to winning the war for talent, many of the tools that were “nice-to-haves” just a few years ago are quickly reemerging as “must-haves” today. But as any recruiter with an eye on the future knows, job alerts and other proactive steps like social recruiting are things that need to be thought about strategically. Tangible investments and planning in place are also required, to stop companies from going down the talent-acquisition paths that are losing their efficacy by the day.

The last thing companies want is to be stuck in a reactive state, fluttering helplessly to find the right candidates even as their competition moves talent right into the front door.

Related: Why It's Smart to Treat Your Employees Like Your Best Customers