Leveraging Corporate Alumni Program: The Value of Building Relationships with Former Employees

Though incredibly beneficial for the company's recruitment practices and even the sales and closing capability, Alumni Programs are still the most underrated way of creating and maintaining relationships with your talent network. Even when researching the program through Google, there are only headlines regarding "corporate alumni programs" with no word about other companies leveraging their alumni. But why do other smaller companies neglect the benefits of maintaining relationships with former employees by building an alumni program? 

Struggling to attract and hire high-quality talent, companies turn to numerous creative ways to dig out the passive talent from around the globe. But, at the same time, the same companies fail to recognize the value of talent that already knows the company, its products or services, and used to walk its office hallways - the former employees! And while big multinational organizations (such as McKinsey, Accenture, or Microsoft) recognized the benefits of creating a community of former employees, other smaller companies are still rarely focusing on similar programs.


However, not only does this group of talent know your company, but you also know them, their skills, talents, strengths and even weaknesses. On top of that, you don't have to be a corporation to have the right budget for forming a similar program. 

So how come companies still neglect the development of Alumni Programs, and how to start changing things around to improve your recruitment?

Building relationships with former employees via Alumni Programs

It is no secret that today, people change jobs more frequently than ever before. More specifically, Tony Audino, a Founder of Microsoft Alumni Network, stated back in 2018 that "More than 20 percent of workers change roles every year" while further predicting that the amount of disruption in the workforce will only increase in the upcoming years. 

And, we have to admit, he was right. The market has never been tighter and more candidate-centric than it is today. More specifically, Google reports that their Search queries for "job application" have risen by 100% since 2020. 

However, The Alumni Enterprise recently reported that an astonishing 72% of past employees would return to the company they used to work for! Additionally, the same source says that 24% of employees who turnover end up regretting their decision to leave. 

With that being said, creating a well-functional Alumni Program to stay in touch with your former employees makes a lot of sense when attracting talent in today's competitive job market. 

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Benefits of Company Alumni Program for Recruitment

As the VP of Global Talent at LinkedIn, Nina McQueen said

"Your company probably spent a lot of money recruiting talent, so don't let those employees just walk out the door on their last day. The cost of investing in alumni is much less than you think, and the returns are much greater than you might think. The days of lifetime employment might be over, but remember, relationships will always matter."

Building and maintaining relationships with former employees is beneficial for the company from both the HR perspective and the company's financial aspect. Therefore, there is a range of benefits associated with the creation of the program. Here are the two major benefits of maintaining relationships with former employees and building alumni program:

  1. Saving time and money spent on recruitment

  2. A valuable source of referrals 

Saving time & money spent on recruitment

Even though you need an initial investment to create the alumni program, finding, hiring, onboarding, and training new employees unfamiliar with the company is still much more expensive. Despite fluctuating numbers depending on the role, you can save at least 6000$ per employee. This is calculated based on an average cost of recruitment of 4000$ per employee and employee training that costs a company around 1500$.

Maintaining relationships with former employees by keeping them up to date with the news from the company and gathering in the form of an alumni program strengthens your bond and allows your company and your former employees to track each other's progress. While the company gets an opportunity to see what their former employees are working on now, the former employees have insights into what is happening inside the organization they left. Of course, there must have been a reason for them to leave in the first place, and a better understanding of those reasons on a more general level can lead to positive organizational changes. 

Ultimately, winning over the talent that previously worked for the organization saves time and money on both the recruitment process and onboarding. Such candidates don't necessarily have to go through the entire process as the unknown candidates and will take far less time to get acquainted with the specifics of their job as they are already familiar with everything regarding the organization.

A valuable source of referrals

Employee referrals are one of the most successful sources of high-quality talent. Additionally, a referral can save the company over 7,500$ per new hire

Expanding the talent network and having former employees as a form of "brand ambassadors" who bring high-quality talent is a win-win situation for everyone. 

What happens is that the former employees, who are already familiar with how things work at your company and know which skills are valued, can more easily connect the right talent with the company. Additionally, if the company invests in its relationships with former employees, they become great ambassadors for attracting talent. Ultimately, it is a mutually beneficial relationship.

How to Develop and Execute a Company Alumni Program?  

In order to create a functioning Alumni Program that helps you build relationships with your former employees, there are several essential steps you have to take. 

Plan your program

Before any execution comes planning. There is no point in creating an Alumni Program without a clear program goal. Additionally, having C-level executives on board will drive the program's popularity and make it easier to advertise it. However, their activities and communications strategies also have to be well-prepared. Therefore, deciding what framework you will use to establish the program, what the application process will look like, who will be the program's ambassadors, and how to promote the program are just a few things to think about before setting up your Alumni Program. 

Figure out how to promote the program 

Promotion and ways of communicating about the program are among the essential elements of the corporate Alumni Program. This is where you strategize the best way to attract your alumni. Whether you wish to make your C-level executives the primary spokesperson of the program or make it a trademark for the company - such as McKinsey or Coca-Cola; each approach requires adequate strategy. However, once you determine your company angle for the program comes the promotion. 

Email campaigns

Before creating your email campaigns, create a pool of former employees where you will be making a list with all of them and refreshing it when needed. For example, if you plan different activities with different groups of former employees, you offer different events and company newsletters to former developers and marketing managers; you can go further by separating these two groups into two more sections.

Talent Pool Former Employees

Once you have your pool of former employees (or you may see them as potential candidates again), you are ready to kickstart your campaigns for inviting former employees to join the program. To avoid too much manual work, create your emails in advance and schedule them based on the stage the former employee is in the funnel. For example, this can be any time a person is added to the base of former employees to send information & invitations to join the program, once they applied for the program to send further information or send out invitations to alumni events to the members of the alumni.  

Pipeline Former Employees

Your options for the promotion are endless, and you can send over newsletters with company & Alumni Program updates, have the current participants say a few words about the program, or promote your most recent events.

Dedicate a separate page for your Alumni Program

In addition to spreading the word about the Alumni program through email campaigns, go the extra mile and dedicate a whole page to share member experiences, add a call to action button for joining the program, or apply for a specific event. Here you have more freedom to express all the benefits that the program offers and put them in one place with some of the testimonials of current alumni. There are numerous ways to leverage this space to shine the light on your Alumni Program; you need to find your angle! 

Engage your alumni network

Engaging the alumni is its most crucial element. Whether you organize live events, online gatherings, create an online group for exchanging thoughts and experiences, or everything from the list - your goal should be to engage as many alumni as possible. Your events and activities should be frequent enough for everyone to build and maintain their relationships and rare enough so that the members don't get overwhelmed. 

Ultimately, the goal is to create an environment where alumni will keep returning to the network and catch up with other members and professionals from their field. 

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