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Why candidate engagement is critical: How to measure & improve it.

Candidate engagement has become considerably important over time. Chances are you’ve already noticed this as a recruiter, and a few pertinent statistics clearly demonstrates it. According to a study reported by ONREC, close to 60% of job seekers say they have not been treated well during recruitment, and over 60% of candidates tend to relate negative experiences to their family members and friends. Taking it a little further, 35% of candidates may also vent online about bad recruiting experiences — which is detrimental to the employer brand. What further heightens the need for suitable candidate management systems and proper engagement is the fact that 36% of candidates expect to be kept in the loop throughout their application procedures. 41% also expect to be informed if they are not chosen after their interviews. Yet, in a telling example of where companies are going wrong with their candidate engagement strategies — just 26% of employers update candidates about their recruitment status! Robust engagement strategies are critical for more reasons than one. A lot of this can be accomplished through suitable candidate engagement tools, while a company’s career webpage also matters. A Glassdoor co-study states that 30% of new hires directly come from the company site, making it essential to refine it to attract and retain aspirants. Candidate engagement is critical for organizations in today’s difficult recruiting environment. How to stay on top of it? This guide examines candidate engagement as a pivotal component of candidate experience while covering aspects like the importance and timing of engagement and how to measure effectiveness.   

What is candidate engagement?

Candidate engagement is basically building and maintaining a professional relationship with candidates. It is a dynamic process that includes staying connected with prospective job candidates, offering them information and insights about your company, available positions, what the company is seeking, and other relevant information. It is a part of the entire recruitment procedure —however, does not end with merely filling the vacancy. Finance Online reports that 75% of professionals tend to make the decision to accept an offer because of their positive candidate experience. Evidently, a lot hinges on effective candidate engagement to hire and retain the best of talents out there!    

What is candidate experience?

Candidate experience represents a candidate's impression about an organization or their hiring process by interacting with their resources, representatives, or reviews. An ideal candidate experience, a pivotal part of candidate management systems, helps build up an environment where applicants will tend to return to the company (if not hired) to apply for vacancies and engage with its services. This consequently also acts as the most effective brand marketing — word of mouth!   

Candidate experience vs. Candidate engagement

Candidate experience and engagement are two different metrics within the broader microcosm of candidate recruitment and should not be used interchangeably. They still overlap on certain aspects.  Here are the core points to remember: 
Candidate Experience Candidate Engagement 
Focuses on the emotions, feelings, and perceptions of candidates while going through the hiring procedure. Concerns the communication done consistently between recruiters and candidates.
Depends on their treatment by the company and recruiters and could either be positive or negative. Driven by the communication modes and processes connecting the applicant and the employer.
  When candidate experience is taken care of, it serves as a foundation for developing an excellent candidate engagement model, which provides a specific structure on what should be deployed at each stage of the applicant's journey.  

Why is candidate engagement important?

In any deal, impressions matter for both sides. Similarly, when it comes to recruitment drives, it’s not only the candidate being screened by the employer, but the candidate also evaluates the employer. Positive candidate engagement is an undisputed need for companies today, especially when it comes to preserving their reputation and credentials while helping them build talent pools for the future.
  • Not making candidates distrust, avoid, or bad-mouth the brand. 
  • Ensuring good experiences throughout the recruitment journey. 
  • Bringing consistency of communication that makes people trust the brand more. 
  • Decreasing candidate dropout rate by making candidates feel valued at every step.
  • Making sure that no candidate feels left out or ignored at any stage of the process. 
  • Maintaining brand reputation and integrity in a competitive market.
 

Who is concerned with candidate engagement?

There are many stakeholders involved in candidate engagement, but they can be broadly categorized:
  • Staff members - These are recruiters and those with marketing experience who understand the candidate's journey in the organization. For them, there could be multiple platforms for engaging with candidates, including chats, emails, social media, etc. or utilizing dedicated candidate engagement tools.
  • Candidates - At any given time in the recruitment drive, there are different candidates at a different stage. So it makes sense that the candidates be categorized accordingly. It’d help the staff members work out the potency of an engagement blueprint by sending relevant messages to the right candidates.
It is not difficult to find the individuals needed to drive engagement efforts. However, administering the program internally and segmenting prospects to boost your efficacy turn out to be critical and challenging HR tasks.  

What are the phases of a candidate's experience?

The major stages of candidate experience may be classified as the following: 
  • Awareness - The first stage involves greater awareness of the need for engagement and chalking out necessary actions to be taken in this regard. This entails relevant job listing mechanisms for search portals. 
  • Consideration - This stage involves laying down relevant parameters for deciding on candidates along with establishing a review and rating system for filtering out the ones to progress to the next stage. 
  • Interest - This stage involves building up the interest levels of candidates through insights, strategies, and feedback/reviews. It also encompasses interviews as the next frontier of recruitment. 
  • Evaluation - Companies then evaluate the filtered pool of candidates while closing salaries, benefits, and initiating the onboarding procedure. Follow-ups are also a crucial part of this stage.  
  • Hiring - This is the closure of the final candidate, taking steps and follow-up measures to finalize all negotiations and onboarding. 
 

How to outline candidate engagement?

Candidate engagement is a multi-layered process that works in different ways at different stages. Still, for any plan to take shape and lift off, consider the obvious (yet unavoidable) to map the candidate journey:

Objectives 

It all starts from the objectives of the company and its overall blueprint like: 
  1. Higher candidate placements through existing talent pools. 
  2. Clear and timely engagement with all candidates. 
  3. Better rates of redeployment. 

Strategies

Then comes the organizational strategy part that could include:
  1. Implementing specialized candidate engagement tools for regularly delivering matching job positions and useful content to candidates. Companies can eventually build relationships with those who are engaged, while passive candidates automatically drop out of the process. 
  2. Develop automated email and messaging templates for every new candidate coming into its database. In addition, lateral information like newsletters, current-employee achievements, non-work events etc. can be part of the communication.

Implementation

For a dynamic effort like candidate engagement, there needs to be a constant watch, accountability, and feedback loop in place. 
  1. Assign clear tasks within your recruitment team
  2. For collaterals and communication, consult content and design experts 
  3. Set checklists for engaging with candidates at different stages
  4. Keep an eye out for what’s working and otherwise to refine the entire implementation. If required, go back to tweaking the objective.
Now, with the candidate blueprint in hand, you may want to dive right into it. But we’d caution you! To evaluate how good your plan is, have some KPIs and metrics in place to steer clear of bumping into the same hurdles and effort leaks.  

How to measure candidate engagement?

We all know the importance of proper measurement mechanisms and feedback loop for the successful run of any system. So, how do you determine your success in terms of implementing your candidate engagement strategy? It is tricky because quantifying an experience is not straightforward. That said, there are some helpful factors you can work with to check the effectiveness of your plan: 
  • If you have a predefined time-bound goal like promoting candidates higher up your funnel, take stock of your offered promotions and pipeline after the target duration.
  • Candidate ghosting should also be measured. It refers to lower rates of replies from candidates and is something that needs addressing right away.
  • If you desire more specific outcomes, then consider placing candidates in alternative positions than the ones they initially applied for. 
  • Measurements may also be possible via email openings, replies to messages, Chatbot consultations, or responses. 
  • Some other metrics for measurement include drop-off rates, time taken to fill applications, completion rates for applications, etc. 
Measurement of efforts and processes is critical to making your strategies more robust over time. However, as you walk the talk of candidate engagement, you are bound to face some common challenges. It helps to familiarize yourself beforehand.  

What are the common challenges of candidate engagement?

No candidate management system is foolproof. There are several common issues plaguing the entire candidate management procedure. These include the following: 
  • Dealing with a huge number of applications. 
  • Candidates dropping out midway into the process. 
  • Fewer applications than desired. 
  • Repetitive and irrelevant candidate questions. 
  • Single-way communication without the desired responses. 
  • Inconvenient resources for communication. 
  • Lack of timely confirmation. 
  • Lengthy and tedious application procedures. 
These are only a few of the multifarious issues that may hinder candidate engagement at organizations.   

How to boost candidate engagement?

Boosting candidate engagement is possible through the deployment of several strategic measures and also adopting smarter candidate engagement tools. Some of the steps to follow include: 
  • Quicker responses to new job applications. 
  • Setting up calendar invites promptly. 
  • Enquiring about the best channel for communication for each candidate. 
  • Negotiating on the interview timeline. 
  • Following up on slower replies. 
  • Building unique candidate experiences with the ATS. 
  • Offering vital recruitment stage/process related information. 
  • Clearly communicating interview process details. 
  • Sharing more information on the organization. 
  • Building social media employer accounts. 
  • Building newsletters for candidates. 
  • Offering feedback and seeking the same.
Aspirants ultimately desire better and faster communication and being kept in the loop about the recruitment stage, process, and outcome. They also desire accurate timelines of the entire process. Feedback is always the best way to enhance candidate engagement levels.   

How to keep candidates engaged in the recruitment process?

Here are some steps to bolster the engagement of candidates during the recruitment process: 
  • Expand your vision and go beyond search results only for the top candidates. You will still find more quality candidates if you broaden your perspective. Do not limit yourself to only the first few results. 
  • Refine searches and narrow them down by excluding terms which are not needed. This will give you a more specific talent pool to choose from instead of being overloaded with applications. 
  • Use a trustworthy and easy-to-access careers portal, newsletter, Chatbot, and other communication channels through which candidates can access information about the company’s culture, benefits, perks, values, and more. 
  • Job postings should include all information about benefits, salaries and other necessary aspects. 
  • You should emphasize on communication that is proactive and effective. Have specific timelines for making enquiries while giving options to candidates. 
  • Proper follow-ups and reminders for candidates at every stage in the process. You can also consider personalizing messages. 
  • Build confidence in candidates through sharing details on what they require to succeed at the interview or the assessment, mentioning things like must-have documents, links to profiles of interviewers, and other vital information. 
  • While examining candidates for hard job skills, take into account soft skills and related talents as well. This will make you a more holistic employer and candidates will understand that you are investing time and effort into understanding them. 
  • Be transparent about salaries, compensation and other benefits from the outset. 
  • Respect the time and energy of candidates, make things easier in the application procedure and emphasize on providing a good interview experience. 
  • Read negative reviews on your company if any, gather feedback and learn about any perceived/actual issues that may drive talent away. Sit with the team and fix them at the outset. This will nip candidate concerns in the bud from the beginning. 
Now that we understand the diverse steps HRs take for engaging candidates and upholding best practices for candidate experiences, we can take a look at the vital role technology plays in the equation. Can technology accelerate and simplify this process? Let’s find out.   

How can technology help with candidate engagement?

Technology has increasingly simplified and streamlined candidate engagement, making it easier to create, maintain, and enhance engagement strategies that ultimately improve candidate experiences. Multiple candidate management systems and other candidate engagement tools help companies with these aspects.  Here are some the common ways that technology can aid HR teams: 
  • Tracking site-based candidate behavior and beginning campaigns. 
  • Segmenting candidates on the basis of various parameters. 
  • Automated messaging cadences. 
  • ATS data viewing, integration, updating necessary fields, etc. 
  • Matching jobs and sending relevant options to candidates. 
  • Reporting vital data on candidates, messages, and campaigns. 
  • Automating workflows and candidate outreach. 
If a solid strategy and proactive team drives candidate engagement, technology is the fuel that can accelerate results.   

Takeaways

Candidate engagement is imperative for companies to recruit and retain employees, the most important workplace resource. It’s a case of taking time and empathy to create a positive experience and build a professional and emotional bond. Its multi-facet efforts are also the bases for employer reputation, credentials, and brand value. Given the adoption of digitalization, personalized engagement with every single candidate is an important goal for every hiring organization. Technology can help successfully implement engagement strategies at organizations, as observed. A candidate sourcing and engagement tool powered by AI can deliver on different fronts: candidate profiling, candidate language mirroring, automating responses, conducting live assessments, consolidated communication dashboard, and more while helping bypass any biases!   

FAQs


How do recruiters engage candidates?

Recruiters can successfully engage candidates by quickly responding to all emails and maintaining communication, staying in touch with candidates throughout the process, sharing helpful content, building up the recruitment pipeline and streamlining hiring procedures simultaneously. 

How do you keep candidates engaged after the interview?

Companies can consider post-offer communication regarding vital feedback about the company, timelines for the next communication processes, keeping prospects engaged with company newsletters and developments, offering career development options, and so on. 

How do you engage candidates during the recruitment process?

Candidates can be engaged by prompt communication throughout the entire recruitment procedure, along with being alerted accurately about the timelines for upcoming stages of the process, offering specific and personalized information to candidates, creating positive experiences at interviews, and ensuring a smoother and user-friendly recruitment procedure. 

What is a candidate engagement program?

A candidate engagement program develops relationships with candidates throughout multiple touch points in the recruitment journey. This covers everything from company branding to the assessment and application procedure, onboarding, job offers, and a lot more. 

What is a post-offer engagement call?

Post-offer engagement calls are mostly to engage and follow up with candidates to fast-track job acceptance while lowering the gap between the starting date and the recruitment decision. Candidates will then venture into the orientation and onboarding stage of the process. 

What tools do recruiters use to find candidates?

Recruiters mostly use career and job sites, job boards, LinkedIn, networking events, and applicant tracking systems to find candidates. They also make use of employee referrals for this purpose. AI-based recruitment tools have also become mainstays for companies as they take away the hassle of maintaining multiple platforms — by providing a single dashboard to leverage all they subscribe to and more. When integrated with their ATS/CRM solutions, these tools also help harness internal hiring as well. 

What are the most effective tools in employee selection?

There are several effective tools for selecting employees, including resume sorting, in-person interviews, introductory screening, cognitive strength testing, personality assessment, candidate references, job knowledge evaluation and candidate references.