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

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Engaging with candidates has never been more crucial in the world of talent acquisition and recruitment. As a recruiter, you’re likely already aware of this paradigm shift, and the numbers speak volumes. Consider this: nearly 60% of job seekers report feeling mistreated during the hiring process. More alarming still, is the more than 60% who share their negative experiences with friends and family and the 35% of candidates who take their grievances online, taking a wrecking ball to the employer’s brand.

Why is this happening? In a nutshell – candidates have expectations about communication and employers don’t always do a great job of living up to those expectations. A LinkedIn study found that 36% of candidates expect regular updates about their applications, while 41% anticipate feedback post-interviews. Shockingly, sometimes – they get neither! Another study found that 75% of applicants never hear back from employers after applying for a job, and 60% never hear back from employers after an interview.

It’s hard to imagine a bigger disconnect between what both sides of the hiring equation expect. Well, it’s time to establish the rules of engagement – candidate engagement that is. Because in today’s competitive talent landscape, candidate engagement isn’t just a box to check —it’s the cornerstone of successful hiring. So, buckle up, because mastering candidate engagement is your ticket to attracting, and keeping the best talent out there. Before we get too far, let’s break down exactly what we mean by candidate engagement. (P.S. – Learn more about candidate engagement and strategies for getting it right by downloading our white paper: Talent Engagement Strategies for Attracting Top Candidates at All Seniority Levels.)

Candidate engagement defined

Candidate engagement is basically building and maintaining a professional relationship with candidates. A critical part of the entire recruitment process that is directly linked to the overall candidate experience, candidate engagement doesn’t end with merely filling the vacancy. It’s an ongoing, 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. How well you manage candidate engagement has a direct impact on the candidate experience. Let’s talk about that for a moment.

What does candidate experience mean and why is it important?

Numbers always tell the bigger story. According to a FinancesOnline report, 75% of professionals decide on whether to accept a job offer based on a positive candidate experience during the hiring process. So, what do we mean when we say candidate experience?

It’s important to separate the process from the outcome. Candidate engagement strategies are the tools that help you create and implement a great candidate experience. Candidate experience represents a candidate’s impression / perception about an organization and their overall hiring process. From the first point of engagement to either being hired or rejected for a role, a positive candidate experience plays a pivotal role in helping organizations build and maintain a robust talent pipeline.

But that’s not the only reason to focus on building an exceptional candidate experience. A candidate who has a stellar experience throughout the recruiting lifecycle is more likely to return to the company (if they’re not hired) and apply for other roles in the future. They’re also more likely to share their positive experience, serving as a brand ambassador of sorts and boosting an employer’s reputation and brand. You can read how AI-powered talent intelligence can enhance the candidate experience in our comprehensive blog – here. But speaking of brand, both candidate engagement and the candidate experience can have a major impact on your employer brand.

The relationship between candidate engagement and employer branding

In any deal, impressions matter for both sides. Similarly, when it comes to recruitment, it’s not only the candidate being screened by the employer, but the candidate also evaluates the employer.

Employer branding operates as the foundation upon which your candidate engagement strategy is built upon. Not only does it aid in the attraction and retention of exceptional talent, but it also provides potential employees with valuable insights into the work culture of your company. A well-rounded employer brand incorporates essential elements such as core values, clear and captivating job descriptions, and unique attributes that set your company apart from competitors.

Developing a compelling employer brand is a crucial element of any talent engagement strategy and involves crafting an appealing image that not only lures top-tier talent, but also aligns seamlessly with your company’s fundamental values and mission. Through a robust employer branding strategy, you can construct a unified brand message that strikes a chord with prospective employees, motivating them to apply for positions within your organization. Consider establishing a strong employer brand as the foundation of a solid candidate engagement strategy. Below some tips for building that foundation. But for a more comprehensive overview, click here to read our Employer Branding Guide.

How to build a robust employer brand

  • Establish a strong online and offline presence on platforms frequented by your desired candidates
  • Leverage social media, networking events, and job fairs strategically to connect with potential hires
  • Get employees to advocate for your company. Encourage them to share testimonials and refer candidates. Engaged employees tend to attract candidates similar to themselves, which can help you expand your talent pool.
  • Craft a compelling narrative about your company’s work culture to help potential talent connect with your brand
  • Share employee success stories through various mediums such as videos, blog posts on your website, career page, and social media profiles. This narrative helps candidates relate to your brand on a personal level
  • Recognize the social and environmental consciousness of Millennials and Gen Z and integrate social responsibility into your work culture authentically. Instead of occasional messages, demonstrate consistent acts of service communicated across multiple channels. This approach aligns with the expectations of socially conscious candidates
  • Make sure your website and other collateral have an inclusive, welcoming feel that puts potential candidates at ease and showcases your company values in a positive light

Once you’ve mastered the employer branding part, it’s time to connect the dots and map out your candidate experience, and ultimately – your candidate engagement strategy.

The road to successful candidate engagement

It’s important to understand that successful candidate engagement requires a multi-faceted approach that focuses on the key elements – candidate experience, and employer brand. Both work hand in hand and are fundamental pieces of the candidate engagement puzzle. We’ve covered employer branding. Now, let’s explore what makes an exceptional candidate experience exceptional.

Optimizing the candidate experience to boost and improve candidate engagement

Every candidate to company interaction from the first time they read your job description to the hire or rejection phase of the recruiting lifecycle impacts the candidate experience. That’s why it’s essential to consider every stage of the candidate journey to ensure you’ve got an optimized candidate experience. Let’s break it down.

  • Ensure job descriptions are candidate-friendly – According to an Indeed survey, 52% of job seekers said the quality of the job description influenced their decision to apply. Let’s face it, the job description is usually a candidate’s first experience with your company. Keeping it inclusive in language, not overly formal, concise, yet informative, will go a long way towards keeping top talent reading it and hopefully applying to the role. Also, be clear about the mandatory qualifications so you don’t waste their time, or your own. For a more detailed breakdown of how to create an effective job description, check out this guide by Leoforce.
  • Simplify the application process – How many times have you gone to apply online for a role just to be redirected to another website that asks you to register for an account – just to apply. One study found that the candidate drop-off rate for people who click “Apply” but never complete an application is a staggering 92%. Another study found that it took an average of 51 clicks to get through an online job application. Seriously, 51 clicks?! Take the time to actually go through your own application process and explore ways to simplify and streamline it. And make your application process mobile friendly!!! Nearly 70% of applications in 2021 were completed on mobile devices.
  • Have some fun with assessments – Sometimes a candidate assessment is just necessary to make a good hiring decision. But that doesn’t mean it has to be painful for the candidate. Creating fun and interesting simulations, or games around assessments can really boost engagement. Consulting firm PwC incorporated a business simulation game called “Multipoly” into their assessment process and increased the time job seekers spent on their site from 10 minutes to 90 minutes.
  • Make personalized communication a top priority – The fierce competition for top talent in talent acquisition today means not just getting to top talent faster, it means doing it better. How you communicate is equally important to how fast you engage a candidate. Avoid sending mass or generic emails and tailor your communication to the individual vs the persona for the position. Speak to their experience directly so they don’t feel like just another resume on top of a pile.
  • Make communication in general a priority – We’re not being redundant here. This is about good, old-fashioned courtesy. Keep candidates informed at every stage of the process – even if you don’t offer them the role. They could very well be a great fit for a future role and how you handle “rejecting” a candidate can be the difference between them remaining engaged and in your potential talent pool and blasting you and your company for all the world to hear.
  • Communicate on their terms – If you’re starting to see how critical all aspects of communication are to effective candidate engagement, you’re on the right track! Considering the means of communication based on your candidates characteristics and preferences not only improves your chances of connecting with them, it also shows you care about those preferences.

How to measure candidate engagement?

When you’ve finally arrived at the candidate engagement strategy that seems to be working for you, how can you actually determine it is actually working for you? There are some key metrics you should be monitoring to ensure you’re on track.

  • Application completion rate – How many candidates clicked to apply and completed an application?
  • Candidate drop-off – What percentage of candidates disappear after submitting an application?
  • Time to fill – What is the average time it’s taking you to fill a role?
  • Candidate Net Promoter Score (NPS) – What candidates are saying about their experience via surveys at different steps in the process. You can also track candidate and employee reviews via social media and career sites such as Glassdoor.
  • Leverage technology – To track candidate behavior such as which emails are being opened, what links being clicked, and which strategies are working better than others.

How can AI technology help with candidate engagement?

The realm of recruiting and talent acquisition has undergone a transformation in the last decade, largely driven by technological advancements. Among these advancements, AI recruiting tools have emerged as a pivotal game-changer for several reasons.

  • Streamlines time-consuming tasks like candidate screening and shortlisting: Allowing hiring teams to redirect their focus to important tasks such as candidate engagement. With an AI sourcing tool like Arya, recruiters are empowered with powerful search and match capability, and talent intelligence, enabling them to source, score and rank candidates for 90% of jobs from 70+ channels in less than 5 minutes reducing shortlisting time by 50%.
  • Automates candidate communication and outreach: It’s crystal clear how important every aspect of communication is in the recruiting process. Using an AI powered recruiting platform allows recruiters to create and automate personalized messages ensuring they don’t miss a beat when it comes to connecting with top talent. The Arya platform offers a powerful candidate communication interface featuring talk, text, email, and chatbot options, making it easy to engage with talent in their preferred format.
  • Arya’s Talent Intelligence capability empower recruiters to make data-driven decisions: By leveraging predictive analytics and 7 multidimensional data points around location potential, skill set distribution, salary projections, company mapping, and education.

Suggested Read – How AI Can Help Strategize and Scale Candidate Engagement Post-pandemic

In many ways, candidate engagement comes down to a company’s ability to sell itself to potential hires. To do that effectively, companies need to embrace a candidate-centric philosophy and a technology forward approach. Arming your team with a next level AI sourcing tool like Arya, is the best way to keep candidates engaged, speed up time to fill, and ultimately – save your company time and money. Book your demo of Arya today and take your recruiting game to the next level!

FAQs

What is candidate engagement, and why is it important in the recruitment process?

Candidate engagement involves building and maintaining professional relationships with prospective job candidates. It is essential in recruitment because it directly impacts the overall candidate experience. In the competitive talent landscape, candidate engagement is not just a checkbox; it’s a critical aspect of successful hiring. Engaging candidates effectively helps attract and retain the best talent by meeting their communication expectations and creating positive experiences.

What is candidate experience, and how does it relate to candidate engagement?

Candidate experience refers to a candidate’s impression of an organization and its hiring process, from the initial engagement to being hired or rejected. Candidate engagement strategies contribute to creating a positive candidate experience. A positive experience enhances an organization’s reputation, encourages candidates to apply for future roles, and promotes positive word-of-mouth, ultimately strengthening the talent pipeline.

How does employer branding influence candidate engagement?

Employer branding serves as the foundation of a candidate engagement strategy. It provides insights into a company’s work culture, core values, and unique attributes. A strong employer brand attracts exceptional talent and aligns with the company’s values and mission. Crafting a compelling employer brand involves establishing a strong online presence, leveraging social media and networking events, encouraging employee advocacy, sharing success stories, and demonstrating social and environmental responsibility.

What are the key elements of optimizing the candidate experience to enhance candidate engagement?

Optimizing the candidate experience involves several strategies:

  • Ensuring candidate-friendly job descriptions that are inclusive, concise, and informative.
  • Simplifying the application process, making it mobile-friendly, and reducing unnecessary steps.
  • Incorporating engaging and fun elements into assessments, such as simulations or games.
  • Prioritizing personalized communication tailored to individual candidates’ experiences.
  • Keeping candidates informed at every stage of the hiring process, even when they are not selected.
  • Adapting communication methods based on candidates’ preferences and characteristics.

How can organizations measure candidate engagement effectively?

Organizations can measure candidate engagement by monitoring key metrics such as:

  • Application completion rate: How many candidates completed the application process after clicking “Apply”?
  • Candidate drop-off rate: What percentage of candidates disappear after submitting an application?
  • Time to fill: The average time taken to fill a job vacancy.
  • Candidate Net Promoter Score (NPS): Candidates’ feedback about their experience obtained through surveys.
  • Utilizing technology to track candidate behavior, such as email open rates, link clicks, and effective communication strategies.

How can AI technology assist in improving candidate engagement?

AI technology, particularly AI recruiting tools like Arya, can significantly enhance candidate engagement by:

  • Streamlining time-consuming tasks such as candidate screening and shortlisting, allowing recruiters to focus on engagement.
  • Automating personalized candidate communication through various channels like talk, text, email, and chatbots.
  • Leveraging Talent Intelligence capabilities for data-driven decisions, utilizing predictive analytics and multidimensional data points.
  • Enhancing the overall recruitment process, keeping candidates engaged, reducing time to fill, and saving time and resources for the organization.

Why is personalized communication essential in candidate engagement?

Personalized communication is crucial in candidate engagement because it demonstrates genuine interest in candidates as individuals, not just as applicants. Tailoring communication to candidates’ experiences and preferences ensures they feel valued and respected. Avoiding generic messages and focusing on personalized interactions enhances the candidate’s connection with the organization, increasing the likelihood of a positive candidate experience.

How does a candidate-centric philosophy and technology-forward approach contribute to effective candidate engagement?

A candidate-centric philosophy prioritizes candidates’ needs and experiences throughout the recruitment process. Coupled with a technology-forward approach, organizations can leverage AI tools like Arya to automate tasks, provide personalized communication, and make data-driven decisions. This combination ensures efficient, engaging, and streamlined interactions, fostering positive relationships with candidates and ultimately leading to successful candidate engagement.

Resources

  • https://www.onrec.com/news/statistics/the-importance-of-maintaining-candidate-engagement-throughout-your-recruitment
  • https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/top-100-hiring-statistics-2022-rinku-thakkar
  • https://www.hci.org/blog/statistics-rethink-your-candidate-experience-or-ruin-your-brand
  • https://recruitingdaily.com/news/almost-70-of-2021-job-applications-were-made-from-mobile-devices/
  • https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/resources/candidate-engagement-at-every-stage/
  • https://financesonline.com/candidate-experience-statistics/

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