The importance of maintaining candidate engagement throughout your recruitment process

15th October 2019

Candidate Engagement and Putting it into Practice

We live in a digital era, where innovation and advancing technology are common place. If you aren’t keeping candidates engaged during your recruitment process by taking advantage of these factors, you could be losing out on that top tier of applicants. 

We all expect speed and efficiency in our modern lives, and the same is true of job applications. Just look at LinkedIn’s one click apply option or even your computer’s ability to auto-fill forms for you. Both of these applications are designed to make the UX as friendly and positive as possible. 

According to the Harvard Business review, applicants have started to “ghost” employers, abandoning their applications midway through the process.

So with this ever decreasing attention span, what can you do to ensure that candidates are kept suitably engaged throughout the whole recruitment process? 

Well, for starters, let’s take a closer look at what candidate engagement actually means.  

What is candidate engagement?

Candidate engagement is an incredibly simple concept, it is you keeping in touch with candidates to ensure that they’re kept in the loop at every stage of the process. 

However, it is typically the part of the recruitment process that most employers fail at.

Candidate engagement usually falls under the remit of three areas:

  1. The people. HR and key players who own the recruitment process, as well as the target audience i.e. the candidates themselves.
  2. The process. Knowing how you intend to engage with your candidates and your strategy for ensuring that engagement remains strong throughout.
  3. The technology. There is no shortage of tech in recruitment, so draw on suitable technology to help you implement your candidate engagement strategy, as well as execute it and of course measure it, so that you know what worked and what didn’t for next time.

4 reasons candidate engagement matters during recruitment

The employment rate in the UK is at an all time high. The UK unemployment rate stands at just 3.8% (May 2019) – the lowest level it has been since December 1974. Why does this matter? Because it means today’s job market is a candidate’s market, not an employer’s market. 

Candidates aren’t having to compete for the top jobs, instead, companies are having to compete for the top candidates. Winning the war for talent means having to adopt a candidate-focussed approach to recruitment. 

But why else do you need to focus on candidate engagement?

  1. You’re not the only company recruiting.

Don’t assume you’re the only company that candidates have applied to work for. A strong candidate for a Senior Digital Project Manager role we are working on cannot confirm a date for a second interview as he has 3 first stage interviews to prepare for, indicating that the job in question might not be his first choice. So, put yourself ahead of the other companies and make sure you’re the company that they would be excited to work for.  

  1. It’s all about relationships.

Job hunting isn’t a transactional process, not any more. Nowadays it is reliant on building strong relationships with candidates. And the best way to do that is through engagement. 

No longer can you send a blanket email at the start and then leave candidates in the dark; now people expect to be kept informed throughout the whole process, at every step, in fact, they want (and deserve) personalised responses

  1. Your reputation.

According to a survey by Ideal.com, nearly 60% of job hunters have been treated badly during recruitment at one time or another. 

Why does this matter? 

In our age of online sharing you are very much on show. Give a candidate a poor experience and you might find yourself with a negative review on Glassdoor which can impact on your ability to hire the talent you want.

More than 60% of job candidates will tell their friends and family about a negative candidate experience. 35% of candidates will share it publicly online.

  1. It reduces your time to fill.

The Dollar Shave Club has said that by implementing a candidate-centric approach and increasing candidate engagement, they have reduced their time to fill by 47%. For AccentCare, their reduction in time to fill equated to 5 days off their average time to fill. 

And when the top candidates are only on the market for 10 days, yet the average time to hire is between 14-30 days, you don’t have long to snare those sought after candidates.  

So what can you do to ensure you keep candidates happy and onside throughout your recruitment process? 

3 easy ways to keep candidates engaged during recruitment

  1. Outsource all or part of the recruitment process or utilise specific technology. 

If you’re not already using a managed service, such as Recruitment Revolution, there is a wealth of tech open to you to help you execute an effective candidate engagement strategy. 

  1. Get candidates excited – showcase your employee brand and company culture.

If you want to make sure you hire the top tier, you need to make candidates WANT to come and work for you. Get them excited from the off, in fact, get them going before they even apply. 

  • Make sure your social channels are up to date and are shouting about you. 
  • Ensure you have a dedicated recruitment page on your website showcasing what you offer employees outside the usual salary, holidays and working hours. Give them unusual perks as well as standard ones: maybe they get their birthday off, or you run a pet friendly office (if space permits), why not sub their discount to a gym, or offer flexible working as standard, or simply just provide free donuts with their morning coffee. Whatever you can do or already do, highlight why you’re putting their needs as your priority. 
  • Make company videos and share them on your social platforms and your website. Include ‘day in the life of’ videos, or what it’s like behind the scenes of your company, showcase the company culture as much as you can. 
  • Host an informal gathering where interested candidates can come and meet the team before hand. You could even show them round their potential new office. Or you might let applicants job shadow for an hour to see what their day to day work requirements look like. One of our London Agency clients offers a ‘Get to know us’ day.  
  1. Open communication channels. 

It is vital that you maintain open communication channels with candidates throughout the recruitment process. If you aren’t engaging with your candidates, you can rest assured that another company is, and your candidates will get snapped up and out from under your nose. 

Plus, if your job is similar to another one, the candidate will be likely to go for the company they feel they have a stronger relationship with. 

  • 36% of candidates expect to be kept informed throughout the application process. 
  • 41% expect to be told if they aren’t selected after they have interviewed with a company.
  • However only 26% of employers actually tell candidates what stage of the recruitment process they’re at. 

If you want to maintain great comms with candidates throughout, consider including these points in your engagement strategy:

  • Let candidates know that you have received their application, when applications close and how long after that date they can expect to hear from you. 
  • Tell candidates if they have OR haven’t been successful. Don’t just tell successful candidates and leave the rejected ones in the dark. 
  • Ask rejected candidates if you can add them to your talent pipeline for future opportunities – you don’t want to be throwing away interested applicants just because they weren’t suitable this time around. 
  • Inform candidates what to expect at each stage of recruitment. 
  • Let them know the best ways to contact you, whether that is through social media, email, text or the good old fashioned telephone. And then make sure that those channels are monitored and queries responded to in a timely manner. 
  • Make sure you aren’t bombarding candidates with needless information however, only get in touch when you have something to report, otherwise you’re wasting their time and yours. 
  • And always let candidates know if there are any unforeseen delays, and how long you expect them to impact the recruitment process. Make sure the candidate knows that the delay has nothing to do with them and that you’re still very interested in them. 

Conclusion

Maintaining candidate engagement throughout the recruitment process needn’t be complicated, but is absolutely essential to ensure you can secure the best talent whilst maintaining and building your Employer Brand to attract great hires in the future.