Candidate engagement is all about turning the prospects you have attracted through job advertisements, social media and the like, into candidates you can place multiple times throughout their career. Engagement does not mean collecting data from potential candidates and then forgetting about it. Keeping candidates connected with your brand requires consistent efforts to keep your data useful and active, and an effective candidate engagement strategy should be ingrained into your recruitment practice.
Make the application process easy and open
The application process can be a source of candidate frustration. Ensure you make it as easy as possible to apply for your role. If candidates have to jump through hoops, eventually they’ll tire, and all the enthusiasm and excitement you’ve built up when speaking to them will disappear. If this happens too often (or too quickly), you’ll lose the candidate for good. Ensuring your application process is simple also increases the quality of the candidates that apply. High-calibre candidates are in demand, and will go to the recruiters who make it easiest for them, leaving you with an influx of mediocre candidates you’ll have trouble placing.
Once candidates have submitted an application, try and make the process as open and transparent as possible. It’s very easy for candidates to disengage with you if the process is longer than expected. Keep lines of communication open and, most importantly, be honest. Transparency will allow you to build trust so even if candidates are not placed they are infinitely more receptive to being approached by you about other positions.
Personalise and be personable
Wherever possible, make your website, company and social profiles more personable and personalised. Approaching candidates cold can be a hard sell; you can make it a lot easier for yourself if you take the time to personalise your message and show them that you are engaged with the process. Simple tweaks such as using their first name when interacting on social media, and personalising the emails and newsletters you send out really make candidates feel valued, and a part of a conversation.
Personalisation doesn’t mean copy and pasting a candidate’s first name into an email template. Get to know your candidates a little more every time you speak, include follow up points from when you last spoke and work to let them get to know you too. Having a consistent contact at an agency is important as well. Build a welcoming presence across your social platforms and actively engage with your followers, this is often a starting point for lasting professional relationships. Encouraging communication should be at the top of your agenda. When candidates understand that you care about their career progression they feel comfortable reaching out to you with any problems or special requests that might upset a deal at the last minute.
Keep your brand present
Invest time into building your brand’s online presence. The bigger your networks, the more candidates will be exposed to your brand; both directly through following your accounts, and indirectly through retweets and shares of your message. Updating your content regularly is key here – give your followers something to share! Dynamic content often works well so think about posting links to videos and podcasts as well as your own company news. Use social media to prove yourself as an expert in your field.
A mistake that a lot of recruiters make is thinking that they only need to grow their network online. Take the time to engage with the industry surrounding your specialism as well. For example, if you focus on technology roles, think about sponsoring local tech meetups. This can benefit you twice over, engaging candidates and potential clients at the same time.
Your engagement efforts shouldn’t stop after you’ve placed a candidate. Make sure you keep your brand present in their minds for the next time they’re looking for a new role. A super easy way to do this is to use opt-in content like newsletters, but make sure to give your candidates the chance to choose what type of content they receive and how frequently. This gives candidates control over your level of contact with them, ensuring you don’t fill their inbox with irrelevant information and decreases the likelihood of them unsubscribing (just make sure you keep the content relevant to them!).
A great candidate engagement strategy is present throughout your entire recruitment process, from application all the way through to after a candidate has been placed. Be open and honest with your candidates; build trust through personalising messages and reinforce your brand. That will take you a long way to creating a great candidate journey and keeping your best prospects engaged.
Heidi is PhD student at the University of Aberdeen. Her research focuses on the issues surrounding the recruitment of patients into clinical trials.