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I recently spoke with a job seeker who applied through a company's website only to discover via his networking activity that the employer was not hiring at this time.
The hiring manager shared that this was the company's way of 'seeing what's out there” but had no immediate plans to hire for that role.
This is an example of an employer filling their funnel for future needs, a strategy many organizations use.
It is frustrating for a job seeker to hear this, especially when they need employment now.
Applying correctly for a job is time consuming. In this case, the job seeker took the time to tailor his resume and cover letter, research the employer and do some networking.
This is in addition to the time needed to complete the online application.
He took all the right steps hoping to receive consideration from the employer.
Most of us would be frustrated to spend time on a project, only to learn that it was for nothing.
In my opinion, this recruiting strategy can be counterproductive for the employer. Word travels fast and an experience like this one can tarnish the employer's brand as the job seeker continues to network.
Further, this job seeker may decide to ignore future job postings from that employer because he doesn't want to expend energy on a job that doesn't exist.
An additional unintended consequence is that this approach to recruiting can create the impression that there is constant turnover in certain positions. That can raise a red flag with job seekers.
Rather than filling the funnel, the employer misses out on a great candidate and tarnishes its reputation.
Is it time to consider a different approach? One in which the employer establishes connections with individuals and builds its employer brand that will, in turn, lead to the creation of a pool of potential talent when a hiring need arises.
As a seasoned HR professional, it seems to me that the best way to fill a funnel with future talent and maintain a positive employer brand is to network rather than post jobs that don't exist.
While it takes time and effort, it easily can be done by leveraging social media tools and creating a strategy.
Where do your future employees work? What LinkedIn groups do they belong to?
What are their interests? How can you establish relationships with individuals who work in your field?
Filling a funnel with future talent also may mean talking with employees about their friends, former co-workers and other professional colleagues.
There are several professional groups, volunteer opportunities and other community resources that can offer ways to meet new people, establish relationships and expand one's network.
It takes this kind of effort to fill the employer's funnel, but the hard work will pay off later when there are positions to fill.
Another way to proactively fill a funnel with future talent is to consider the company's website and social media presence. What do these platforms show about what it is like to work for your organization?
Do you have a careers section, company history, culture or benefits, employee testimonials, etc.? Does your application process tarnish your brand by using a cumbersome application process?
Some job seekers tell us sometimes it is too difficult to work through an online application, and they give up midway through the process.
Is your website friendly, will you accept unsolicited inquiries?
If not, you may want to consider a way for visitors to your website to contact you about employment opportunities. That implies you are open to inquiries for future possibilities.
Think of your website as your front door. Will visitors want to knock? If they do, will you open that door?
Job seekers have shared with us other ways that employers inadvertently tarnish their brand.
Whether that's lack of preparation on their part, avoidable observations that are not favorable - noise, dirty environment - or some employers have asked inappropriate or illegal questions.
It's important for employers to put their best foot forward so as not to taint their brand.
As vaccines roll out, places open and a 'new normal” surfaces, 'We're Hiring” signs are popping up all over town.
Making the effort now to enhance your brand and create strong professional connections will go a long way toward bringing you the talent you need when you need it.
Jennifer Lawrence is the owner of Corridor HR Solutions, a career transition and consulting firm; email@example.com; corridorhrsolutions.com.