Employee Advocacy and the Candidate Experience: Getting to Know You (Phase I)
December 04, 2019 by Lindsey Sanford, Global Employer Brand Manager, Palo Alto Networks
The biggest factor in your candidate’s experience? The people they meet along the way. The easiest thing for you to manage as a TA professional? Eh, probably not the people. Building a strong process that supports an amazing candidate experience is one thing. Building a strong process that is consistently executed across the world through different cultures, hiring verticals, and times of stress? Now, there’s a challenge.
You can build an amazing process that at its heart develops a strong candidate experience - but what your candidates will remember the most is the experience they had interacting with the people.
Those interactions happen in every stage of the candidate experience - and we’ll start with the beginning: when the candidate is getting to know you as an organization. Whether that’s through an advocacy program, an informal connection made on LinkedIn, a formalized event strategy where your employees network with your potential candidates, this is the first step to creating an incredible candidate experience.
Leveraging your employee population to share their story, their perspective, and their insight into your organization is such an important factor to creating an authentic employer brand and a positive candidate experience. The best part? It’s a very low barrier to entry to start building up an organization that is capable of stronger recruitment marketing tactics - mostly because all sides win by participating. The “what’s in it for me” is strong, it’s a logical story to tell, and most hiring managers and interview panels will want to participate.
Starting with advocacy, it doesn’t have to be a formal system or tool. If you saw my previous blog on Advocacy, the primary focus was building a business case on using an advocacy platform (or not), and what that meant in terms of pros and cons. But moving forward into other opportunities around advocacy, I wanted to share a few quick ideas that could help pique interest in a formal advocacy program around your organization. Or even regardless of where you are in developing your program, some of these tips might be a helpful way to revisit your or evolve your program.
Why advocacy? It’s a simple way of saying that we use our employee voices to court the candidate as they are in their decision-making process. It’s getting more content in front of potential candidates before they have decided to apply, or while they are applying.
But the best part about the advocacy program is what I’ve mentioned below. Advocacy empowers both the candidate and the hiring manager. The hiring manager benefits from an increased pipeline, brand awareness, and network; the candidate benefits from more insight into the organization, network, and a better understanding of alignment. Walking our hiring managers through an advocacy pitch has opened their eyes to the competitive nature of the market, and the benefits to themselves when they participate.
Tying this back to the process question - you can design the best process, but people are involved. There will always be individuals who vary in the process - but the more that you can show them the logic behind the program, and build a strong business case for their participation - the less it will vary.
Start with something called “The Elevator Pitch”. This is a low barrier for hiring managers unfamiliar with advocacy (or not so savvy with social), and it’s an easy win for improved candidate experience.
Each week we gather content that is produced around our organization. Some of this content comes in the form of social posts across our Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Some of the content comes in the form of employee stories published across our Medium page, our blog, or our employee’s own presence on LinkedIn. Last, we check our corporate blog for product announcements, PR, and earned media releases by chasing the news and media through google alerts and listening tools.
Once we have that week’s content put together, we chop it up into a Google Doc, add the links to the content, and then provide talking points for each story. These talking points can be a variety of perspectives - but they address all of these:
- Perspective from the candidate lens - what would the candidate want to know? Why is this important to the candidate?
- Values-driven material - we hire by values. It means that we have to create talking points and content that comes full circle to share that with our employee-base and candidates.
- Underlying threads and themes that address any negative content that might have been published elsewhere (think: glassdoor, etc)
The talking points aren’t copy and pasteable - instead every talking point is a teaching moment for our hiring managers to guide them through the story of “what’s important to our candidates?”, “how should I be talking about our company to our candidates?”, and “what’s on the candidate’s mind this week?”.
When we first started out - our elevator pitches were small, with little content. But as we’ve grown in size and in content library, our elevator pitches highlight anywhere from 3-10 pieces of content per week for our hiring managers. And our distribution list? It’s grown tremendously. Every time someone hears about it, they ask to be added so they can more proactively share on their own networks to raise awareness of the org and our opportunities.
But the best part? We include gifs because we just can’t take ourselves too seriously.
It’s one way to guide the candidate experience to a more consistent positive one, with hiring managers who’ve bought in to the why of “candidate recruitment and candidate marketing.”
Next blog? We’ll dive into creating a consistent candidate experience as your candidates progress from phase I into something more.
After many years organizing communication efforts for local, federal, and international campaigns, Lindsey gave up her constituents for candidates upon entering the recruitment marketing world. For seven years, she worked at Symphony Talent, assisting Fortune 100 companies with their recruitment marketing content marketing strategy, attracting talent to organizations by encouraging the right fit for both the company and the candidate. She now manages a Global Employer Brand Program for Palo Alto Networks, innovating new ways to reach out to candidates, leveraging regional stories, and improved candidate experience, and pushing the boundaries of how we think about the recruitment and candidate process. In her allusive "free time" she can be found picking up new hobbies like Girl Scouts leadership, reading all the books, speaking for her cat, and asking her kids for the 100th time to pick up their toys. Follower her on Twitter @LindseySanford.
For more from Lindsey, join us in San Francisco this January 28-30, 2020 at #SRSC where talent acquisition leaders connect to leverage emerging recruiting practices. This year we are excited to host SRSC at Talent Acquisition Week, along with EBrandCon and the Talent Sourcing Strategies Summit.