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The Ultimate Guide to Candidate Engagement: What, Why and How

September 1, 2022

Acquiring talent is getting trickier every passing day. Why? The recruitment space has transformed to the limits that candidates are ‘ghosting’ recruiters after attempting interviews with multiple companies at the same time. This surge in drop-off rate at the bottom of the recruitment funnel isn’t stopping anywhere – it has increased by 20% in the last few years. Not to forget, the ‘Great Resignation’ of 2021 made the global attrition rate go up to 19%. Hence, both talent acquisition and retention are of great concern today. With the aim to keep your recruitment pipeline filled and hire quality talent, effective candidate engagement becomes the key to execution.

The other side of the equation is, that businesses cannot afford to halt their growth no matter how stiff the competition for top talent gets. Attracting and converting the top qualified candidates is now much more about the all-around value you as an employer add to their lives. Traditional forms of recruiting don’t work anymore. It’s a candidate driven market and their expectations have completely transformed. 

Recruiters today need to primarily focus on two strategies to attract, hire and retain quality talent:

  • Understanding the deep wants and needs of candidates both personal and professional.
  • Build relationship with the candidates, and help them rather than sell to them directly.

And accomplishing these steps is only possible when you consistently engage with your prospective candidates. It enables you to analyze their personality and work ethics much more efficiently. 

But how can do you engage proactively with candidates? How do you ensure your efforts at the sourcing stage bring out positive results? In this blog, we will discuss the ins and outs of candidate engagement. Stick around for a deep dive into the top engagement strategies you can use to ace your recruitment.

With the aim to keep your recruitment pipeline filled and source quality talent, effective candidate engagement becomes the key to execution.

What is Candidate Engagement?

Communicating with your candidate pool consistently with the objective to keep them updated regarding the recruiting process – is a major part of candidate engagement. In addition, the process also involves nurturing prospective talent, sharing information about your company culture, having conversations around their career goals, helping them find a suitable opportunity that aligns to those goals and establishing a positive connection with them. 

Contrary to popular opinion, candidate engagement is not just about persuading and acquiring quality talent that has been sourced. It also covers being in touch with job seekers who can be value addition to your current  or future talent pools.

Further, effective engagement ensures candidates are kept intrigued throughout the application procedure. It’s vital to understand the core motive – to enhance your chances of acquiring top talent, and the more often they get communicated by your company, the better. 

The most optimal way to persuade your target candidates and trigger action, is by conveying Employer Value Proposition (EVP) and more importantly, positively engaging them. At each stage of the recruitment funnel including application or sourcing, screening, assessment, job offer and final onboarding – candidate engagement plays a vital role in offering favourable experiences. If you’re wondering why serving a great candidate experience is so important – it helps with a massive 70% improvement in the quality of new hires.

Why is Candidate Engagement Vital for Organizations Today?

Traditionally, recruiters were approached repeatedly by candidates for jobs and candidates were made to wait without any updates. Fast forward to today, all thanks to the huge demand for qualified talent, recruiters need to engage candidates constantly for keeping them hooked on the recruitment process. Modern candidates rarely apply to only one company at a time, which means they rarely do in-depth research about an organization before applying. 

Candidate engagement also tops the chart when it comes to recruitment trends of 2022. A large number of organizations have an applicant drop-off rate of 80%. Clearly, making candidates finish the recruitment process is a big challenge in itself today. As a recruiter, you need to show them that you care, drive their motivation with your brand, share your company mission and make them understand the recruiting process thoroughly. 

Ineffective communication is the biggest source of negative candidate experiences which makes 65% of candidates lose interest in a job. Let’s take a look at the top reasons why candidate engagement is a key aspect in sourcing, acquiring and retaining quality talent.

#1 It’s More Competitive Than Ever

The demand for skilled talent currently is disproportionate compared to the supply. Amidst the rapid growth and innovation in almost every sector, and an exponential surge in the number of freshly formed startups, the battle for quality talent has become even more intense. As candidates are attracted to organizations which seem exciting to work in, it can be game-changing to portray your company as one such destination for them. By leveraging effective and unique candidate engagement strategies, you can stand out among a pool of companies or options for candidates.

#2 Candidate Experience Impacts Your Reputation 

Over 50% of job seekers surveyed had declined a job offer due to poor candidate experience. The entire world is now connected via digital and social platforms, and 69% of candidates share their experiences publicly online. The way you engaged them or the experience they had while interviewing with you, could define your future recruitment pipeline as more than half of potential candidates - 55% to be specific, avoid engaging with such organizations which have negative reviews online.

#3 Optimizes the Time to Recruit

Strategic and proactive candidate engagement cuts down the time to hire, as candidates feel more assured about your company and you work on pre-decided recruitment timelines. Additionally, the role of candidate engagement in establishing a rich talent pool shouldn’t be understated. As you keep on sourcing and engaging candidates, the talent pool becomes more concentrated and your time to hire significantly drops. 

#4 Helps You Build Relationships

Recruitment is becoming more of marketing and don’t forget that candidates are just like the customers you ideally want to acquire for a lifetime. An effective candidate engagement strategy does not only convey the necessary information but also caters to the target candidate’s career goals and professional objectives. Once you cross the awareness stage as an employer, the more personalized value you add through engagement, the stronger your relationship becomes with the prospective candidates.

How to Engage Candidates Effectively? 6 Easy Steps

Now that you know what is the deep meaning of candidate engagement and why it matters, it’s time to create a roadmap and execute it to optimize your recruitment. 

Here’s a step-by-step approach to creating a winning candidate engagement plan:

1. Optimize the Top of the Funnel

60% of job seekers abandon the application process if it takes too long or is too complex. The problem is not just limited to difficult applications but a number of other top-of-the-funnel tasks that require huge efforts from candidates to enter the recruitment funnel often end up being harmful to your talent acquisition plans.

Take a look at the most common issues faced by candidates:

  • An application form that takes more than 15-20 minutes to fill
  • Undefined length of hiring processes
  • Unclear recruitment flow
  • No acknowledgement emails
  • Missing updates when the recruitment is completed/positions are filled

How many of these did you relate to? Unfortunately, these practices have become so mainstream that they feel normal now. 

Recruiters need to solve these issues to remove the virtual roadblocks for job seekers. If you’re not facing any of the mentioned ones, but still the applications aren’t coming, try surveying your candidates and be transparent about wanting to serve them better.

2. Ensure You’re Seen as an Exciting Employer to Work with

What comes to your mind when someone says they are working with Google or Netflix? Apart from their consumer-facing brands, these giants have worked deeply on their employer brands, work culture, public relations and all the other touchpoints which contribute to making an organization ‘fascinating’ to work in.

Here’s how you can attract a huge number of qualified candidates by portraying your company as an energetic and exciting place to work:

  • Up your Social Media Game: Be it LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or any other social platform that you want to target as per your ideal candidate persona, make sure you proactively post content and engage with your audiences. As per the latest trends - quirky, relatable, shareable and user-generated content is the key to grabbing more positive attention.
  • Capitalize on Video Content: Video is undoubtedly topping the charts in the content and marketing space now. Whether it is your company’s website, YouTube channel or any social handles – post videos more often. Now when we say videos, it doesn’t mean graphically edited ones, they’re almost outdated. User-generated videos from your employees can produce ideal engagement.
  • Your Website Career Page Needs a Revamp: Check if the careers section on your company website is up-to-date or not. An optimal approach would be to update it every month with a detailed description of your open roles, company culture, employee stories, workplace testimonials, work culture experiences and more. Add a lot of photographs of recent events, celebrations and happy employees.

3. Update Candidates Consistently Over Recruitment Status  

53% of surveyed applicants said they didn't get any response from the recruiter for 3 months after applying for a role. This is one of the most underrated problems in the recruitment industry. Transparency between recruiters and candidates about the status of their applications is a very basic requirement of productive candidate engagement. Not responding with any updates annoys candidates and leaves them in confusion, and even anxiety.

The optimal way to approach this issue is by confirming applications when received through email automation. Further, recruiters should respond to candidates’ queries within a maximum of 3 working days and update candidates after each round of recruitment gets completed – no matter if the results are in their favour or not.

4. Fix the Recruitment Timeline in Advance

83% of candidates say it would immensely improve the overall experience if employers provided a clear timeline of the hiring process. Sharing updates and information isn’t enough, you need to clearly define a recruitment timeline in advance for your candidates’ convenience and for adding up to the efficiency of your recruitment efforts.

Include the exact number of steps involved in your recruitment process, and the timeline for the entire journey. Keep them updated on their recruitment status and in which stage they are placed right now. An ideal way would be to attach all the details related to each stage of recruitment. You can either have it on your website or attach to the application confirmation email. 

This way, you would not only assure candidates of high transparency within the process, but your recruitment teams would have their expectations right upfront. Hence, it’s a win-win strategy which will help you achieve your hiring goals within the defined timeframe and in an organized manner.

5. Automate Scheduling of Meetings

More often than not, multiple rescheduling of meetings ends up being negative experiences for both sides when done manually. The last thing you would want as a recruiter is to drop off a skilled candidate due to their unavailability at the time of the interview.

This part is critical for both productive candidate engagement as well as candidate experience. Automating your scheduled meetings would help you save a plethora of time and your candidates to choose from a number of slots which will add up to the flexibility. Using free scheduling tools like Calendly, you can allow your candidates to choose the time for an interview. This practice has become more popular after the entire world got used to remote work. Especially when you are recruiting in big numbers, manually scheduling your screening calls and interviews is not a sustainable approach.

6. Make Feedback Mandatory

Each candidate who applies for an open position at your organization should be served with feedback regardless of the results. It will help them to be aware of different areas with scope for improvement. Answer the most common questions like: 

  • Which skills were missing in them?
  • Was it due to their CV?
  • Did their personality reflect the traits required for the role?

Feel free to add any other feedback pointers that you find relevant after evaluating the candidate. Delivering proper feedback is also important in keeping the relationship with the candidates strong. Some candidates get rejected in the last rounds of interviews and can definitely be considered for future openings for similar roles. It is a common practice for recruiters to keep those highly skilled candidates in their talent pools.

How to Build Candidate Engagement Plan?

Let’s now take a brief look at some of the trending execution plans for boosting up your candidate engagement:

  •  Newsletters: If there’s one form of content apart from videos that have been the highlight of 2022, it’s newsletters. Once you have sourced enough candidates and have their email addresses, and if you believe they are qualified for your roles - draft and design a newsletter and continue it once every week or twice a month. The core aim is to highlight insider stories, build an employer brand and establish engagement with candidates. You can subtly add the open positions at your organization, but make sure your newsletter is not just about recruitment. 
  • Build an Online Community: A long-term recruitment and engagement plan, but surely the most effective one. Especially for niched businesses like a recruiting agency, marketing SaaS products and other similar use cases – the community plays a significant role in growing the business. Also, these communities have concentrated talent and can be a great way to engage your candidates. You can build Facebook groups, Slack communities or LinkedIn groups – the platform doesn’t matter much, proactiveness and constant value addition do.
  • Networking: One of the ideal ways to engage with passive candidates, networking is based on activities which are not directly related to recruitment, but the purpose remains the same. Visit offline meetups, join webinars and host mini-events to network optimally with people. Listen to what candidates have to say and what is trending in the recruitment, and business space right now.
  • Automated Engagement: When you are recruiting at scale, engaging with hundreds of sourced candidates consistently and keeping them updated of their recruitment status can be daunting if done manually. Leverage an engagement automation tool to streamline your candidate engagement and boost your chances of acquiring the top talent for your organization.

How Sourcing Automation can Help You Boost Candidate Engagement?

Sourcing candidates, engaging with them consistently from Day 0 and then handling all the recruitment tasks can be too hectic for you to handle. Add up to that the numerous roles that are usually open at any given time in companies. The need of the hour for recruiters is an end-to-end sourcing automation and engagement tool that assists them in mundane repetitive tasks.

Nurturebox enables you and your recruitment team to level up candidate sourcing and engagement with powerful automation. The platform helps you source candidates with just a few clicks, add them to your personalized engagement sequences and track your overall recruitment pipeline for optimal management.

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