Candidate engagement has become a hot topic over the course of the last year. Indeed a talent acquisition survey from Jibe and Kelton Research recently revealed that "more than anything else, optimising candidate experience was identified as the top recruiting trend heading into 2014".
With hiring levels rebounding, recruiters are increasingly thinking about what it is that will help them to make the necessary hires for their business. That’s one reason candidate engagement is such a hot topic. However, in truth candidate engagement has always been a key differentiator. How we make candidates feel about our brand, about wanting to work for us, about how they’re being treated during the application process… these are things that have always had a big impact on recruiting success.
What has changed, though, is the increasing ease with which recruiters can research and reach out to potential new hires. With the playing field being levelled in this respect, candidate engagement has become a far more critical differentiator for recruiters wanting to hire the best.
With this in mind, here are 9 tips to help you engage candidates more effectively.
9 Tips To Engage Candidates More Effectively
Before candidates have applied to an opening:
Be the person or the brand that candidates want to reach out to. Have you built a welcoming recruitment presence on all the social channels where your target candidates are spending time? Do you ensure your presence is all about serving and helping candidates, rather than self-promotion? Do you actively engage with your followers and make them feel that interactions are something you’d welcome? Showing that you care is a key success element in achieving greater candidate engagement.
Grow your network. The larger your networks, the more candidates will be exposed to your personality and brand. Both directly – as followers of your accounts; and indirectly, via retweets and re-shares of your messages then reaching an extended audience.
Invest in your company careers page. Do your careers pages sell what it’s like to work at your company in a way that is engaging and welcoming? Try to incorporate engaging content, videos and the provision of some scope to interact with your recruiting team – be that via a live chat facility, posing a question or following your social channels.
Personalise and be personable. Whenever you can, make the experience of interacting with your website, company and social profiles more personable and personalised. When approaching candidates cold, take the time to personalise your message and make them feel like you’re writing just to them. When interacting on social media, take a moment to use their name and see how you can help. Ensure all your candidate follow-up emails and newsletter subscriptions are personalised. If candidates create an account on your careers pages, have the site worded to say “Welcome back Firstname” each time the person returns, “here’s the careers information we think will be most valuable to you today”.
So few companies really make the effort to do these things consistently that you’ll definitely stand out when you do. Consistently conversing with candidates – making them feel part of a conversation – goes a long way towards improving candidate engagement.
Know your company culture – or your client’s company culture – inside out. Ensure everyone who will interact with candidates has a similar understanding of company culture and will present a unified experience to the candidate through whichever channels they come to interact with you.
Candidate experience doesn’t stop at the point candidates decide to apply to you though. Once a candidate has decided they’re interested in applying you also need to:
Make it extremely easy to apply. This is often a major source of candidate frustration. All the goodwill and enthusiasm you’ve built up in candidates can evaporate if the process of applying makes the candidate feel like you’re more than happy to turn away candidates who aren’t committed to jumping through hoops. High calibre candidates don’t have to jump through hoops, so this kind of attitude just encourages only the more mediocre candidates to apply!
Make your application process – and the status of a candidate’s application – as open and transparent as possible. Having an application disappear “into a black hole” and having no idea where they stand in the process is one of the most common frustrations you will hear from candidates. It’s common because a lack of communication on the part of employers is the norm rather than the exception. You can turn what has the potential to be a very negative experience of your company into an extremely positive one – just by going the extra mile to be the company that does things differently.
When candidates apply, ensure they get a personalised message back confirming their application has been received and advising them of the likely timescales in which you’ll be reviewing applications. Ensure they receive regular personalised updates about how the application process is progressing. Make them feel wanted and valued – so that even if they aren’t hired for this opening they’ll be open to being approached about other openings in the future – and receptive to referring other candidates to you.
Manage expectations from the outset. Almost every applicant who passes through your application process is going to be rejected. You can’t change that, it’s just the way the numbers work. But what you can influence is how each candidate feels when that’s the outcome of all their efforts. You do so by managing their expectations and making them feel valued from the outset.
What if your first email update to all quality candidates flagged that “we’ve received over 30 applications from candidates who look a really strong fit for this role, so a lot of very high calibre individuals are going to be disappointed when this recruiting process reaches its conclusion. Hopefully you’re the exception! However, even if that’s not the case we’ve seen enough in your CV to be really interested in staying in touch over the coming months and seeing what other roles you may be a great fit for FIRSTNAME.”
All those strong candidates who end up not being hired are much more likely to remain interested in your company if their expectations are managed and their standing with you as a quality applicant is reaffirmed. Showing consideration towards your candidates and their feelings can significantly enhance candidate engagement.
Treat all quality candidates the way a company should treat their high-value customers. Every quality candidate who applies to you is both a potential future hire and a potential referrer of future hires. If someone’s not a match now that doesn’t mean that they won’t be a fit for future openings. Just because they’re not a fit for this opening doesn’t mean they don’t know lots of people who could be a great fit for some of your other openings. Treat candidates the way that would make you feel valued and the long-term benefits will be felt for years to come.
About the Author
Gavin Speirs is the CEO of Solutions Driven, a recruitment business serving clients and candidates internationally across a number of key sectors. You can follow Gavin via twitter on @gavin_speirs or alternatively connect with Gavin on LinkedIn. If you'd like to find out more about Solutions Driven and the sectors we serve, please see our company website for further details: www.solutions-driven.com.