The Easy Way to Boost Candidate Engagement

The competition for talent is still as fierce as ever. In the fight to attract workers to your business, how do you make sure you have the best people? And, how do you ensure high candidate engagement throughout the process so you don’t lose the best ones?

The answer is increasingly, personalisation.

Candidates are out looking for jobs and, just like you, they are concerned about finding a good match. Like you, they are looking for someone they can work well with and achieve their goals. To get the best candidates though you need to create the desire in them to want to work with you. You need to stand out from the sea of employers and show them why you’re an Employer of Choice and why it’s worth investing their time and energy into your application process and, if successful, your team.

To do this, you need to cultivate feelings of trust, engagement and desire.

Personalisation is the Key to Candidate Engagement

The good news is that it is now easier than ever for a company to reach out and connect with candidates. However this great ability comes with a trade-off. With all of the technology at our fingertips, there’s absolutely no excuse for a “Dear Applicant” email.

In fact, there’s no excuse for no answer at all. People want to feel like they matter. They have put time and effort into reaching out to you. In the candidate’s perfect scenario, they would be working for you. The last thing they want is to feel rejected, or worse not even good enough for an automated “no thanks”.

Personalised communication with candidates is extremely effective because of it’s two pronged approach. It entices a candidate to want to work for you but it also creates goodwill towards your organisation – even if they don’t get a job. This is especially important if you’re a consumer brand where your candidate might also be your customer.

Speed Matters

You’re busy, we get it. Candidates get it too. They don’t expect a handwritten letter or a 30-minute voicemail explaining exactly why they didn’t get the job. However, the waiting period between sending off an application and hearing back from the employer is often the worst part of the entire process.

We highly recommend setting a clear expectation with all applicants from the start so they know roughly how long it will take for you to review applications, respond to those who have been shortlisted and when the successful candidate can expect to start.

Responding quickly to candidates, even if it’s a gentle decline, shows that you value their time and the fact that they applied. Beware of saying “sorry” too quickly though. Sending a rejection email within hours after receiving their application definitely sends the wrong message to the unsuccessful candidate who may be thinking, “Did they even read my application and give me a chance?!”

Letting those who get further through the application process and into the interview rounds know they won’t be progressing really deserve a phone call in which case a script is ideal to have on hand. While this takes longer than an email, it shows another level of commitment to candidate engagement and that you value them as individuals.

The “Name” of the Game

We all like hearing our name. It’s one of the things that marks us as an individuals. What else would explain Coca Cola’s phenomenal campaign of putting names on the sides of bottles and cans from a few years ago? 

So, take a leaf from Coca Cola’s book and use the candidate’s name whenever possible. Whatever way you contact them (phone, email, text, carrier pigeon) use their name instead of something generic like “Dear Applicant”. It’s a small gesture but one that earns you lots of brownie points because it’s just common courtesy.  The last thing you want a candidate to think (especially one that you are hoping to win over) is that they are on the tail end of a huge mailing list. 

Understanding Candidates

Personalisation is the key to attracting and connecting with the best job seekers. In order to be able to personalise your recruitment process, you need to understand your candidates. One way to achieve this it to look at their social media accounts. This can give you valuable insights into what they like, hobbies, weekend outings, movies they like, etc. You can use this to create a strong sense of candidate engagement.

But, before you start stalking your candidates on social media — get a feel for whether or not they’d welcome it. Some candidates may see it as an invasion of their privacy. In this case it’s best to just leave it to some friendly “get to know you” questions in your interviews.

At the end of the day, you want to make it easy for your applicants to love you (and your company) and not the opposite. Whether the candidate is successful in getting the job or not, they should feel appreciated by you and the business. A job seeker that is happy with the application process and feels appreciated is one that is likely to continue being a customer or return down the track as the perfect candidate for a new job vacancy.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Make sure the way you are communicating to candidates makes sense. Some employers miss out on great candidates because their methods exclude the very people they are trying to reach.

For instance, most workers don’t want to be contacted on the phone about a new job while they are working at their current job. Calling them during the day is likely to end up hitting their message bank or imposing a really uncomfortable conversation on them while they’re sitting at their desk. If the applicant is currently employed, it makes more sense to organise a time to talk or send them an email or text letting them know how to get in contact with you when it’s convenient for them.

Another example would be if you’re looking for someone to fill a shift-work role, it would be a pretty bad idea to call them during the day when they are likely to be catching up on sleep from the night before.

Here, a simple text would be best. It tells them that you are interested in hearing more from them and can provide the candidate with a variety of ways to reply to you (at a time that suits them).

Both “best practice” options show the candidate that you value their time and you are interested in them as a potential employee. Most importantly it gives them an opportunity to communicate with you on their terms.

Remember, the golden rule of marketing — know your customer’s “What’s In It For Me?” By putting yourself in their shoes you can make sure you address their concerns and their needs and come across as the company that cares about it’s workers.

Show Don’t Tell

Don’t just tell candidates that you are an employer worth working with, show them. When dealing with job seekers, use videos and social media messages that show your brand as one that’s active, engaging and exciting. Don’t kid yourself that job seekers are buying that same stock standard lines that everyone uses like, “We are a forward-thinking organisation,” or “Our people matter.”  Anyone can say it. Be the company that shows it. 

What It Means to You if You Get This Wrong

Hiring managers and recruiters are at risk of being obsolete if they can’t do a better job than a machine.

We’ve already seen tech replace people in roles where they’re simply an order taker. Job boards are a perfect example of that. How often do you go to the bank to make a payment or get cash out? When was the last time you bought a ticket for a flight from a person?

The fact is, if the only thing between the customer and the service you provide is you pressing a few buttons in the right order, there is someone out there right now that is working on a program to solve that issue. If you are working like a human robot, your job will be replaced. It’s as simple as that.

To stay in your job, you need to do things that robots couldn’t even try. You need to embrace your humanity! To get real candidate engagement you need to understand the real needs behind a request for new staff.

  • Who do they need?
  • What skills do they need?
  • How do you articulate those skills to potential candidates?
  • How do you best screen for those skills?

In short, how do you add value to the recruitment job? You also need to understand the team they’ll be working with too so you can not just find a skills fit but a people fit. These are things that machines can’t do (yet!)

Things to Watch Out For

Although traditional ways of getting in contact with candidates has fallen out of favour, once again technology comes to the rescue. Candidate engagement benefits immensely from technology but it takes thinking to make sure it’s being used properly.

Job seekers today, especially younger ones, aren’t willing to answer phone calls. This goes double for calls from unknown numbers.

They are however, much more likely to respond to a text. Especially one that has been personalised using their details. Similarly, they might ignore an email but will engage with and appreciate a chat bot. 

Even relatively modern methods such as approaches through LinkedIn may be on the way out. Meanwhile, voice-based applications may be on the horizon. Already natural language processing through products such as Google Home and Apple’s Siri have changed the way people think about interacting with technology. Like mobile-based applications, those in the recruitment game should be aware of potential disruptors to the industry and how they can be ahead of the wave. 

The key to candidate engagement is focusing on them, not you. It’s about what works best for the job seeker rather than what suits employers.

It’s No Longer All About You

With the war for talent won, employers no longer have the luxury of waiting for the best candidates to simply come to them. Instead, now the competition between companies to get the best workers has increased. To win and get the best workers you have to embrace recruitment marketing – selling your (employer) brand to your customer (candidate).

Just like you would use marketing to sell your products and services. Use marketing tools to sell your company’s culture to job seekers. If you can open a personalised conversation with a candidate about your culture, that could mean the difference between them choosing to work for you or for your competitor.

Classic sourcing skills aren’t dead yet. Your tried-and-trusted methods of finding great employees should still be used. New technology has just made it even easier to contact people and generate great candidate engagement. It can keep promoting your brand as the employer of choice well into the future.

So, use your humanity, leverage technology and get those great new staff members on your team! 

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