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Donald Duck and the complexity of reaching candidates

complexityI always smile when I hear a news report about the ‘labor market’ – as if a thing so vast and and full of complexity could ever be described easily. If you’re in our industry, you know that ‘unemployment’ is not a condition that applies equally across every sector of the labor market, and phenomena such as ‘hiring frenzy’ can vary by geographic location, industry, week, or even job title. In other words, oversimplify at your own risk!

As I mentioned in my last post, jargon can be the enemy of communication. So too is the oversimplification of the candidate audience you are trying to reach, whether you are operating a traditional job board, a marketplace, a hybrid solution, a sourcing tool, or something else. Unless you are a global generalist (such as Indeed), your candidates have some cohesion – perhaps they are looking for entry-level jobs, or solar energy jobs, or accounting jobs, or jobs that don’t require a college degree. In other words, your candidates have some similarities – at least in their goals or backgrounds.

That’s where things start to gather complexity. Consider: suppose you are running a hybrid job board for travel nurses. It’s hybrid because you offer traditional job postings, but you also provide some minimal vetting of your candidates (certifications, past employment, etc.). So the candidates you are trying to reach are nurses, right? Well, yes and no. It’s a travel nurse site – travel nurses are essentially contractors that work in various locations for various periods of time. Imagine 6 months in New York City, followed by a month in Billings, Montana, followed by 3 months in Barstow, California. So you are looking for certain types of nurses that the various employers want – ICU nurses, RNs, etc. But…you are also looking for nurses with a willingness to move around a lot – so probably not nurses with dependent family members (although that happens sometimes!). And you’re looking for nurses that are wanting to maximize their earnings (yes, travel nurses do well!).

What did I say? Any given candidate audience is complex! And guess what – you’re only halfway there! Once you’ve done an honest and accurate analysis of your candidates, you have to reach them. How do you do that?

By learning where and how they live. In other words, by becoming the candidate. For example, in the case of the travel nurse site, you should have an ‘advisory board’ of nurses who tell you how they live – what they listen to, what they do for fun, what bugs them, what makes them take a new assignment, and so on. Then you back that up with some surveys and tests. Does everyone on the board follow a particular Instagram feed about the philosophical importance of Donald Duck? Before you sink big bucks into cartoon-related ads, validate it with a survey! If the survey comes back 100% Donald Duck, run a few tests. Rely on data. Perhaps there will be a duck in your marketing future!

Another suggestion – internalize the language of your candidate audience. What are the phrases and tics that make travel nurses sound different from insurance salespeople? Use that language in the ads and posts and promos and blogs that you send out to lure them in.

Finally – remember that reaching your candidates is a dynamic process. What works in 2021 may not in 2022. Humans are full of complexity – and so are candidates (in fact, they tend to be the same thing!). Embrace the complexity – and you will succeed.

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