If you are like most people, when you see the word “conversion” you think of the process someone goes through when they are shifting money around among their retirement accounts or the experience of changing identity from one set of religious practices to another. [Spoiler alert: Neither of these are the uses of the word “conversion” that I will be talking about today.]
For recruiters, though, conversion is about that very important – and often neglected – step between the “recruitment” phase of getting a candidate interested in a job and the “selection” phase, where we are assessing their interest, fit, and skills related to the position in question. In this context, conversion means the work we do to “convert” someone from an interested lead to a real, live, active applicant for the given role. And in my experience, this is where many of us fall down on the job, losing high-quality people in the process. It is crucial to have a systematic, persistent recruitment operation, cultivating potential leads and getting them excited about our organization. But we need to follow that up with encouragement to complete the application process so we have a chance to review their credentials and consider hiring them for our positions.
As someone who has focused much of my career as a recruiter on finding quality leaders for under-resourced public schools and the organizations that support them, I may put a little more stock that most in the need to work closely with quality candidates to ensure they complete and press “send” on their formal application paperwork. If I do, however, I come by it honestly. My clients do not have a wealth of exceptional candidates beating down their doors to take over these highly rewarding but very challenging roles. And I have seen far too often that if we do not continually court and reach out to those who are in demand throughout the recruitment process, someone else will. When we create cumbersome and opaque application systems, fail to follow up regularly with people to ensure they don’t have any lingering questions, or take for granted that candidates will understand our value proposition without really explaining it to them, high quality leads may decide in the end not to apply at all and try their luck with one of our competitors instead.
So as we start wrapping up our recruitment operations for this year’s education hiring season, don’t forget to evaluate your application systems to make sure that every step you include is vital to collecting the information you need to make great decisions – and not too arduous for candidates to complete. Take the time to look back over your leads and see if any of those folks you were excited about when you did your initial recruiting calls failed to actually apply to the role(s). If so, pop them an email or give them a quick call today and see if you can convert them from a lead to an applicant by giving a little more encouragement along the way.