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Recruitment Marketing Basics: Can You Email Previous Job Candidates?

Turning people down for jobs isn’t most people’s idea of fun. It’s especially tough to say no to peo...

Posted by Lisa Farrell, Marketing Manager on Mar 2, 2020 9:15:00 AM
Lisa Farrell, Marketing Manager


Turning people down for jobs isn’t most people’s idea of fun. It’s especially tough to say no to people who you know would be a great fit —just not right now for this particular opening. 

For high-volume recruiters, though, it’s particularly valuable to cultivate a ready pool of qualified talent. One way to do that in a way that’s low-stress for you and the candidates is through regular email updates.

Interested in trying this popular channel for recruitment marketing? Here’s what you need to know to launch a great email newsletter campaign for staying in touch with candidates.

Where Should I Store Email Addresses?

For security and organizational purposes, candidate email addresses should be stored in your applicant tracking system (ATS) or one of the many robust email service providers, such as MailChimp, Campaign Monitor or Constant Contact. These platforms provide a layer of security that will help you protect your candidates privacy.

Who Can I Add to the List?

Ideally, you should only email applicants who actively opt-in to receive your newsletter.

You can ask for permission can be included as a checkbox in the initial application a candidate submits, says Matthew Burr, owner and HR consultant at Burr Consulting, LLC. “Candidates should be able to check yes or no easily,” he says. It’s important to explain the purpose of the email list to candidates, too. “You need to be transparent about your intentions,” Burr says.

If you choose to add candidates to your email newsletter list automatically, make it very easy for them to opt out, says Roberta Matuson, president of Matuson Consulting and author of Evergreen Talent. If the position has just closed, send an initial email immediately to inform the candidate that you were impressed by their application and would like to stay in touch. Let the candidate know that you’ve opted them into your emails, but make it really simple for them to unsubscribe.  “Ninety-nine percent of the time candidates stayed opted in,” Matuson says. “And for the 1 percent who prefer not to be on the list, it’s no problem for them to opt out.”

How Do I Track Engagement?

Most ATS systems include features that are useful for recruitment marketing. “You can use your ATS to source candidates, create and manage attraction activities such as email campaigns, manage engagement records and process activities that nurture candidates, like email newsletters,” says Crystal Miller Lay, CEO of Branded Strategies, an employer branding company.

At minimum, you should track open rate, click rate, unsubscribe rate and spam reports.

You can boost your tracking abilities by setting custom links in your ATS and recruiters’ email signatures to track engagement with your email content. As part of your branding efforts, any emails that come from your recruiters or are sent through your ATS should include links to your career landing page and social channels, Lay says. 

These links can be optimized with a CID tracking tag to measure engagement with those webpages. “UTM parameters can be put in the body of the email to track which links are being clicked, Lay continues. “The important thing with UTM tagging is to be sure to set the source as email so you can track that activity.”

Once these tracking links are in place, tools like Google Analytics can help you visualize the data. This makes it easy to see what type of content has driven most engagement towards your landing pages and social channels. Integrating this data into your ATS’s central recruiting hub allows you to share it with hiring managers and executives across the organization. This supports collaboration on content creation at all levels.

What Type of Content Should I Include?

Recruitment marketing emails usually contain a mix of company news, career advice and features, and open job postings.

You can A/B test different mixes to see what performs best.

Another option is to ask the candidates who opt into your email newsletters what type of content they would find most valuable and engaging. “Ask your prospective candidates what kind of information they want and how frequently they want it,” Lay suggests. “Provide a range of topics to create almost personalized newsletters sent at cadences that are set by the candidate.” 

This gives candidates a say in what type of content they receive and how frequently you send it. Giving candidates agency in the decision shows that you respect their privacy, listen to their needs, and want to curate content that they will actually read.

Human interest stories typically make popular content, and they demonstrate your employees’ lived experiences. “Showcase an employee who was promoted rapidly, or a day in the life of one of your drivers,” Matuson suggests. “A transport company trying to recruit drivers for day hauls might spotlight a driver who used to spend time away from his family doing long haul but now gets to have dinner with his family every night.”

Showcasing women and minorities who are thriving at your organization shows that you value diversity, while highlighting an employee’s career path demonstrates opportunities for growth. “Provide content your readers can relate to,” Matuson says.

You can also use content offerings to differentiate your organization from your competitors. For example, safety is a big concern in manufacturing. “If candidates are seeing that your company has zero loss time and zero injuries, that is very attractive,” Burr points out. “If your organization is ISO certified or someone on the team just completed Lean Six Sigma certification, those are incredible accolades.”

“Make sure that the content you send is realistic to the everyday work experience and reflective of your actual, not aspirational, values,” Lay cautions. Any mismatches between what you promise and what you provide throws doubt over the honesty of your content. 

Sharing this type of content shows candidates that you care about your employees, from the baseline of personal safety to supporting continuing education and credentialing. These little snapshots delivered to candidates’ inboxes form a brand they will want to become a part of.

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