Kevin BinkoMay 30, 2023

Everything You Need to Know to Implement a Corporate Alumni Network

Businesses are always looking for new ways to expand the talent pipeline and maximize their existing talent pool. One of the best ways to do both of these is through a corporate alumni network. Corporate alumni networks can help businesses build a community with their past employees. 

For example, think about where you attended college. After graduation, universities do their best to stay in touch with alumni for fundraising efforts, to promote school athletics, and to foster a sense of community that stretches well beyond the borders of the physical campus. 

Alumni networks can serve similar functions in a professional environment, allowing workers to stay engaged with the company and interact with other former employees. After all, they all have something in common whether they worked at your organization for five months or five years. 

Corporate alumni can be an untapped source of top talent for TA teams to consider. With the right program, your recruitment marketing teams can easily engage, nurture, and convert past employees that might be interested in returning to your organization — increasing your talent pool with high quality candidates that you know are aligned with company culture and values. 

In this article, we’ll cover why it’s important to have a corporate alumni program, how to get started, and what tools you can use to ensure a smooth implementation with meaningful results. 

What is a corporate alumni network? 

A corporate alumni network is comprised of former employees who actively maintain a connection with an organization and former colleagues after their employment ends. 

Alumni networks are important because they foster employee engagement and retention, and cultivate a community of both current and former employees. But the impact of a successful program extends beyond your employee base. A vibrant alumni community and welcoming company culture signals to candidates that this is an organization that is well-liked, and cares for its people. 

Many organizations choose to use a dedicated technology platform or tool to encourage this engagement. Other alumni groups might even be created by former employees who are passionate about the organization. In these cases, individuals tend to leverage a Facebook page or LinkedIn Group as a way to stay in touch. 

By implementing a corporate alumni network tool, however, organizations gain immense benefits, including the ability to engage former employees, provide relevant, personalized open roles, organize local in-person events, tap into former employees' professional networks with referrals, and even welcome them back into the fold. 

Now, let’s dive deeper into the benefits that can come from implementing an alumni network at the organizational level. 

How can corporate alumni programs benefit your business? 

Alumni networks are paving the way for talent acquisition and talent management practitioners to hire, develop, re-engage, and re-hire quality workers who are already familiar with the company. 

Through an AI-powered alumni network, like Phenom Alumni Network, you can open up a wealth of potential opportunities — providing TA teams, talent marketers, talent managers, and HR designers with access to one of the most valuable categories of job seekers: previous employees. 

In other words, your hiring teams can expand the talent pool and promote open roles to a group of individuals that already understand your company culture, values, mission, and vision. 

The importance of fostering alumni connections  

Not only do returning employees already have experience with your business, there’s also a smaller learning curve when it comes to hitting the ground running on their first day. Most will already be familiar with the systems and processes you use, so they likely won’t require as much training or onboarding as someone coming into the organization for the first time. 

This makes them more productive right away, allowing them to contribute quickly without having to learn all of your procedures from scratch. Additionally, rehired workers often become mentors for newer team members — providing valuable insight into workflows that may otherwise remain unknown until after months of trial and error by less seasoned personnel.

Having a foundation of understanding before starting on their first day puts alumni employees in a great position to succeed. It can also spark a new sense of loyalty that goes a long way when you’re looking to improve engagement and retention within your workforce. 

Why invest in an alumni networking tool now? 

Unprecedented access to new opportunities, higher wages, remote work, and more have sparked massive shake-ups in employee retention. Yet after leaving their current role for a new opportunity, many workers realize the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. More often than not, individuals come to regret leaving jobs or organizations that actually were the right fit for them. But without a clear road back, these workers might not feel confident enough to reach out and express their interest in returning. 

Companies need a scalable way to bring these workers back into the fold while recognizing the value their experience and perspective bring to the workforce. One of the most important actions an organization can take is to implement an alumni network to foster connection with, and between, alumni employees. 

Without a dedicated program and technology to support, it can be difficult to gauge levels of interest among previous employees. This leaves recruiters focused on finding new talent to bring to the table — which can be increasingly difficult with a tight budget, reduced labor market, and overwhelmed hiring teams. 

But, staying in touch through an intelligent networking tool helps inform the employee that the business is interested in having them back, effectively leaving that door wide open to new possibilities. 

Offering current and former employees a chance to stay informed, connected, and potentially return in the future will only add more value to your company. Taking this step goes a long way toward maintaining a robust, diverse talent pool and an experienced, resilient workforce that’s ready to take on any unforeseen challenges. 

What features should you look for in alumni networking technology? 

There are many options to consider when you start researching alumni network tools. But there is a list of must-have features that shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re looking for the right alumni networking technology. 

Here are a few to keep in mind: 

  • Event planning — Hosting in-person or virtual events is a great way to stay connected with former employees, build a community, and help them feel close to the organization even when they’re no longer involved in day-to-day operations.

  • Talent communities — Having the ability to capture passive leads and build an engaged community of past employees that you can nurture with email and SMS campaigns is critical to driving engagement and keeping individuals informed of new opportunities as they become available.

  • Email and SMS campaigns — A critical element of an alumni network, campaigns allow for consistent communication to ensure everyone is receiving the most up-to-date company information, effectively keeping the lines of communication open with your corporate alumni.

  • Integrated analytics — Designed to help you measure the ROI and positive impact of your corporate alumni program, analytics highlight what is and isn’t working. With this insight, you can duplicate the efforts that work well and improve the processes that aren’t helping you reach your goals. 

Overall, it’s important to look for a solution that offers an integrated approach to your existing systems while simultaneously giving you the tools you need to engage alumni. With the right technology, you can ensure your former employees are informed and connected.

How to get started with an alumni network 

A great first step in designing and implementing a corporate alumni network is to define the goals and objectives of the program. Is the main objective to leverage former employees as a viable talent source for open roles? Or simply to build a community of corporate alumni and encourage networking. 

The goals of the program will dictate the tactics you can use to engage former employees. Once you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, start reaching out to alumni and building your network. 

Pro tip: Proactively collecting the information you’ll need to engage with individuals — like their personal email address or mobile phone number — is an impactful best practice. 

1. Create a space where former employees can stay connected with your organization 

Leveraging an alumni network to foster relationships with past employees only works when it’s easy to access, up-to-date, and valuable. Implementing a program that’s easy to use and can be integrated with campaigns, event planning, and talent communities is critical to ensure the success of your network. 

Having one location that highlights your employer brand, recent activities, available roles, and more is better than relying on various Facebook groups to communicate your messages. An integrated platform gives the organization control over the branding, messaging, and offerings, adding more credibility to your alumni program. 

2. Make signing up for your alumni network simple

After you’ve set up a branded alumni network landing page, the second action item is focused on improving visibility for your new program. Using embedded forms on your website and hyperlinks within alumni oriented content or social posts, you can streamline how easily former employees can sign up to stay informed on everything your organization is doing. 

An alumni network program is only impactful and valuable when it’s full of former employees who can network and foster a sense of community. To grow this community and stay connected, embed an email sign-up form on the career site for alumni and employees. 

Another impactful step you can take is to proactively identify former top performers. You can do this by reaching out to team leaders or using a tool like AI discovery within your CRM or talent marketplace. Knowing who you would want to retain or rehire is critical so you can effectively target those individuals through your preferred communication methods. 

3. Spread the word about your alumni network 

Another important element to consider is how you plan to promote your alumni network. Here are some questions to consider before you determine the methods and channels you’ll use to communicate with potential network members:

  • Do you want former employees to find it easily on your social media profiles?

  • Do you want to create specific blogs and content targeted toward former employees?

  • Should you include messaging about your alumni network in exit paperwork or emails? 

  • After an employee completes their last day, how do you stay in touch with them if they haven’t joined your community yet? 

  • How do you want to recruit existing employees to enroll in your program to make connections with former employees? 

  • What kinds of information do you want to highlight on the network dashboard? 

  • What automation workflows should be set up to nurture former employees that have engaged with the content in your alumni network? 

  • How will you personalize content for network members? 

These are just some of the things your team should think about when designing your alumni network. Answering questions like these will help you start off on the right foot before you implement a new program. 

Once you’ve determined where and how you want former employees to discover and engage with your alumni network, consider what SMS or email campaigns you’d like to implement to nurture new members. It’s not enough to just have a long list of interested individuals — you still have to keep them engaged and informed to successfully keep the lines of communication open. 

Remember that behind each employee or alumni is a real person who cared for the organization — so we recommend skipping the advertising and marketing jargon. Instead, communicate in a human, personalized way and strive to foster meaningful relationships using authentic content and messaging true to your employer brand.

4. Set up events and activities to foster a sense of community 

Communication doesn’t have to all take place digitally — think about hosting regional events for company alumni to get together. Plan events centered around alumni interests and needs, whether it's a career fair or a reunion. And don't forget to keep track of your progress through regular evaluations and surveys. 

Also, think outside the box! Consider renting a box at a baseball game or hosting an alumni tailgate during football season for your local team. People are more likely to get excited about an event that they would actually want to attend even if an organization wasn’t hosting it. 

By taking these steps, you'll be well on your way to creating a successful alumni program.

How to measure and optimize the success of your alumni program

Regardless of your specific talent acquisition strategy, one thing is certain: you need to be able to measure the effectiveness of your strategy and tactics. Strong analytics capabilities have been, and always will be a top priority for taking TA and recruitment to the next level. 

Success will depend on your specific company goals, which means it won’t look the same for everyone. The clearest signal that your corporate alumni network efforts are paying off is the number of former employees who you re-hire. 

You can also look at the number of alumni who have left the company but chosen to sign up for your network, or the number of referrals made by former employees. 

Additionally, TA teams can look at the ROI of campaigns and events related to the corporate alumni network. Event attendance, number of applications, conversion rates, open and click-through metrics on email or SMS campaigns can all be indicators of alumni programs' success in terms of engagement. 

The most critical piece of the puzzle? Implementing your alumni network program using the right technology. With AI-powered insights, data analytics, and campaign management, you can implement, adjust, and assess your strategies with ease. 

Unlock alumni communities with Phenom Alumni Network

To continue to thrive in a competitive labor market, companies have to consider former employees as viable candidates for open positions across the enterprise. Past employees have the skills, competencies, knowledge, and experience required to make an immediate impact. 

Creating a successful corporate alumni network requires thoughtful planning and implementation. Clearly identifying your goals, as well as the strategies you can use to engage former employees, will allow you to make meaningful connections and rehire lost talent. 

With these steps in mind, you’re sure to create an engaging program for current and former employees alike!

Discover what you can achieve with Phenom Alumni Network by booking a personalized demo today

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