According to LinkedIn, the number of candidates who drop-off from the hiring process has increased by 20% in recent years. This trend negatively impacts the size of your talent pool.
Moreover, nowadays there are way too many companies to choose from. 62% of millennials believe that if they lose a job today, they will find a great job opportunity within 3 months.
We as recruiters have to take extra steps to attract and retain candidates. And it’s not only about employer branding. The term “candidate engagement” has become a widely-used one to describe maintaining great relationships with candidates throughout the hiring process. Your company may not be a well-known one but it might get known as a good one for candidates.
Candidate engagement consists of all interactions you have with a candidate. It ranges from posting a job with a clear job description, providing information about the product, teams, goals, and sending quality rejections.
The way where, how, when, and what you communicate can drastically influence the perception of your company. Candidates may either feel encouraged to apply next time or stop interacting with your brand and advice against applying to their peers.
You can also see candidate engagement as all the efforts you make to provide a great candidate journey. A great candidate experience results in 70% quality improvement of the new hires.
Why Should You Care About Candidate Engagement?
Some recruiters have this thought: if job seekers are not engaged enough on their own, then they are not motivated enough to join the company. However, it is vital to understand that candidates probably send many applications per day and only briefly get to know the companies they apply to. In order to drag them through all the interviews and test assignments, you should at least show that you care, make them interested in the brand and the product (and even the mission of the company), and help them understand that passing the process is real.
It really matters when you want to improve candidate engagement. 65% of candidates lose interest in the job opening after a negative experience during the process. You may lose a lot of talented people by the lack of communication and the mindset described above.
The second pattern we see is delaying the time to inform the candidates that they did not pass. It happens rarely now but a few years ago it was possible for recruiters to never even send the rejection letter and leave the candidate waiting for the answer. 80% of candidates don’t consider any other relevant job openings at a company that didn’t notify them about their application status. And on the contrary, they are on average 3.5 times more likely to apply to other open positions at a company that was keeping them updated.
Having a good relationship with every candidate, no matter if they passed or not, lowers the costs of talent acquisition later because you will have a pool of potential candidates, or because rejected candidates will spread a good word about the company anyway.
How to Boost Candidate Engagement?
Respond to New Applications Faster
52% of job seekers say that the lack of quick response from employers is a significant challenge during the job application process. Candidates apply to numerous positions in numerous companies, so you may lose a qualified person if you don’t act fast.
Utilize automation software to set up replies for applicants that adhere to your requirements, so they are updated about their status.
Set Up Calendar Invites
Calendar invites have become a real-life-saver in the business world. It is highly unlikely that you will miss the meeting when there are a bunch of notifications with all the details you need to know: time, address (or link), and what the event is about.
When one is looking for a job, they probably have many interviews scheduled and it is easy to lose track of them all. If you want to make sure that candidates will show up, do not hesitate to send a calendar invite. Save yourself from wasting time waiting in vain and avoid losing top talent because of one memory slip.
Ask About the Best Communication Format
Some applications like Skype or Zoom may not work the same on different computers. A candidate may struggle with GoogleMeet but have their Zoom running smoothly. Consequently, if you ask for the preferred communication format in advance, you may avoid bad sound and lagging video.
Negotiate on the Interview Time
A person in a job search, even unemployed, is probably busy. It is simply impolite to name a date on your own. It creates an impression that the company does not care about the personal life of its candidates (and probably of new employees as well). It does not make your company seem more attractive.
Therefore, it is better to discuss the date and time with the candidate first. Some companies like Amazon request candidate’s availability in the next three weeks. On the other hand, many other big companies prefer to give you the date and ask if you agree with it — which may be less convenient for a candidate who needs to spend time negotiating with the recruiter.
Follow Up Slow Repliers
42% of recruiters say that one of the major barriers to identifying qualified candidates is people not responding to emails and calls (yes, in some countries recruiters are still calling candidates via a mobile phone). Candidates may not reply as fast as you want them because of different reasons: they were on a holiday, they did not see your message in the pool of emails, the message got into spam, or they are not as motivated as you wish they were. Whatever is the reason, it is better to follow up than regret losing a great candidate.
However, if you see that the candidate is not engaged at all, do not overdo it. It is unlikely they will get re-engaged after 10 messages.
Create a Unique Experience with ATS
73% of candidates consider job search to be one of the most stressful experiences in their lives. Give more power to candidates through your applicant tracking system. Some platforms like Workday, for example, allow candidates to check on the status of their application, some platforms allow to edit the info they provided. When job seekers can manage their own profiles in their ATS, they might feel more in control. But at the same time, allow candidates to apply without using the time-consuming process of creating the account. Use ATS for the good, not for the bad. E.g., share more info about your company and the role within the application page. Nowadays many ATS allow you to customize career pages.
Provide Essential Information About the Recruitment Process
The average hiring process in the US takes 23 days and the time needed to fill a position can extend up to 53.8 days for some industries as the government.
To ensure that the candidates feel motivated to go through all stages of the recruitment process, make sure they know how many steps are there, what these steps are, and how much time they need to complete the whole process. Moreover, by knowing this information they could prepare for each stage better.
Send Details About the Interview Process
Interviews are nerve-wracking and make candidates anxious (at least 93% of applicants agree with that). You can ease the stress by simply providing more details about the interview, questions, and the hiring manager. For example, state whether it will be an interview about soft or hard skills, who will attend the interview, ask them to prepare their own questions.
Share More Information About the Company
47% of candidates fail job interviews because they do not have enough information about the company. When a person applies to many job openings, it is unlikely that they will learn a lot about every business. If you provide a short description with essential details, plus describe the company’s culture, policies towards remote work, office hours, it will help a lot.
It is also more likely that candidates will show up if you provide information about the company. They may get inspired by the mission and values or positive feedback from current employees.
Create Social Media Employer Accounts
79% of job seekers utilize social media in their job search, so make sure to post new job openings there.
Candidates would also like to know how the company lives and breathes, whether it is a fun workplace, and can friendships be made. However, you can barely get a glimpse into that on Facebook or LinkedIn because brands usually sell their products and services, rather than share details about a regular working day.
That’s when companies create stand-alone employer’s social media accounts to showcase the company’s values and culture and attract like-minded people. It might be a good idea if your company has a long-term hiring plan.
Create Candidate’s Newsletter
Candidates who failed on the first try may be still interested in the company, and the company may still be interested in them. Create a monthly newsletter with new open roles, tips on applying, and insights about working in the company for such individuals. In the rejection letter, or on the Careers page, offer candidates to subscribe and stay tuned on new job opportunities.
Provide Feedback and Ask For It
Providing feedback to the rejected candidates is great for the company’s image. Candidates do not think highly of organizations that send rejection letters containing only “Unfortunately we decided to move on further with other candidates”.
However, if you give candidates decent feedback mentioning what affected your decision (candidate’s weak points that do not match the job profile), they have something to work with and most of the candidates feel grateful. Even if they do not apply ever again, they will not think they were rejected on the basis of personal dislike, or a small issue with their resume.
Asking for feedback on your recruiting process is essential as well. 75% of job seekers were never or rarely asked for feedback by employers. However, collecting feedback may help to learn unique insights on your current hiring process and create a better candidate’s experience in the future.
Measuring the Performance of Your Candidate Engagement Strategy
Before you start implementing these tips, it makes sense to measure the current candidate engagement level. It will help you either understand that you are doing perfectly fine or you need to put more effort into building a feel-good candidate’s journey.
These metrics will help you to understand candidate engagement in your company better:
- average time spent by a candidate on every stage of the recruitment process;
- candidate drop-off rate;
- application completion rate;
- percentage of candidates who do not reply or do not read recruiter’s emails/messages;
- how many candidates re-apply to the company later;
- your company’s net promoter score (NPS) according to the candidates.
Candidate engagement is essential if you want to build a better employer brand image, encourage quality candidates to reapply, and cut recruitment costs. Candidate engagement is in little things you do for the candidates but it makes a huge difference in the long run.
There are many tips that may be helpful. However, try to start implementing them one by one to not get overwhelmed and drop the activity altogether. You may choose tips that are more relevant to your business.
Measure candidate’s engagement to know whether you have a problem and to see whether your efforts are paying off.
If your employer’s brand is not strong enough yet, and your business is lacking enough active applicants, you may need to be sourcing passive candidates.
Check out our Sourcing Hacks — a set of checklists and cheat sheets to boost your sourcing team’s performance, especially in remote reality.