Eighty percent of working adults are more willing to take one job over another based on personal relationships formed during the recruiting process—and Gen Z is no exception. According to a Handshake survey of over 1,000 students and alumni, early career job-seekers rank informal chats as the most valuable way for them to learn about employers.
But with limited time and team bandwidth, recruiters can’t manage all of these relationships on their own. By including teammates from across your organization—also known as an “advocate program”— you can scale up relationship building for a more meaningful candidate experience .
What is an advocate program?
An advocate program is an intentional, structured initiative that brings in other employees from your organization into the recruiting process. Advocates are current employees who can speak authentically about their functional roles and build connections with candidates applying for open roles. They can serve as evangelists for your business, company culture, and talent brand.
Looking to strengthen your recruitment strategy? Here are 5 steps to help you get started on building your advocates program:
Step 1: Establish the goals for your advocate program
Though advocates may look different from one company to another, having a clear understanding of your goals is your first step to building an effective program. Consider the following questions to identify your goals for establishing an advocate program:
- Are you hiring for specific roles now?
- Do you have challenges hiring for particular roles?
- Which DEI initiatives are you responsible for?
- Are you trying to generate a pipeline of candidates for future roles?
- Are you trying to build a general brand affinity?
Step 2: Identify your ideal advocate profile
Your ideal candidate qualifications should ultimately determine how you choose your advocates from your organization. Consider factors like role, department, years of experience, and even alma mater when choosing advocates for your program. If you’re primarily sourcing for engineers, for example, you’ll want to choose advocates that can speak on behalf of the engineering department.
Step 3: Outline and pitch your program internally
Once you’ve established your program goals and your ideal advocate profile, pitch executive sponsors to get buy-in. Highlight the business value of the program, including:
- What is the benefit to the overall business
- Which departments are participating and how will advocates be matched to your audience
- Who are your key stakeholders
- How many advocates are needed
- What are the requirements for an advocate
- How will you manage the program
- When are you going to launch this
Step 4: Select your advocates
With support from your executive sponsor and department champion, you can assemble advocates from the necessary departments and teams. When selecting your advocates, be sure to ask yourself: “Is this person genuinely excited to connect with candidates?” and “Do they clearly understand the time commitments for this program?” And be sure to articulate clear expectations for the program when you’re recruiting advocates within your company.
To build enthusiasm for the program, it’s always best to highlight the benefits teammates get from participating. Mentorship and leadership opportunities are excellent areas to highlight. In fact, 9 in 10 alumni have reported saying they are willing to support younger job seekers who reach out for advice.
Step 5: Launch your program
To successfully launch your program, it’s important to align all participants on goals, expectations, and timelines. Start with an internal kick-off meeting and address the goal of the advocate program, which teams are involved, expectations for advocates, program timeline, and next steps.
Whether you’re looking to drive new applicants or convert applicants who are on the fence about accepting an offer, advocate programs are an excellent way to build authentic relationships between current employees and candidates. In turn, engaging in the candidate experience offers employees professional development, recognition, and meaningful interpersonal connection building.