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Tips for candidate engagement

How to improve candidate engagement is a hot topic in recruiting, and for good reason. Factors such as COVID, the Great Reshuffle and a particularly tight employment market in fields such as IT have made being able to guide a potential employee from contact to onboarding is a key differentiator for successful companies. The recruitment toolbox has also changed, with virtual candidate engagement and candidate engagement platforms now a part of many recruiters' toolkits. At Employa, we see the future of recruiting, especially for tech and skilled labor, as one of continuous candidate engagement. And the companies who both engage in it and know why they do it will have a major advantage when it comes to hiring talented candidates.

Why is candidate engagement important? If you share the view of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, that the employee should see the company as a platform for fulfilling their career ambitions and as a way to have an effect on the world, then guiding a candidate from recruiter letter to candidate onboarding instead of mechanically processing the next employee is makes all the difference. It also helps new hires see themselves as being at home, even when they've just moved in.

"I always say, if everybody at Microsoft who works at Microsoft reframed it and said, “I don’t work for Microsoft. Microsoft works for me,” just for a moment, just as a thought experiment, does that equation compose?", Nadella told the Harvard Business Review.

With Nadella's idea of the company working for the employee in mind, let's look at how to improve candidate engagement. Technology, and how to use it, pops up at almost every level.

Candidate Engagement Strategies

Every company's recruitment process is a little different depending on the business vertical and corporate culture. For companies with employees spanning the globe and no centralized HQ, virtual candidate engagement is a requirement. This won't work for others, where face-to-face meetings are important. In either case, though, continuous candidate engagement can play an important part in conveying the sense that the firm provides a place for the new hire to grow - and thus, stay.

Candidate engagement in recruitment can be automated to a degree, but personalization is even more important. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are advanced enough that a recruiter letter to a candidate can be created with minimal human intervention and still convey that there is a reason for the letter being sent to the potential candidate in particular.

AI's role in sending the candidate personalized messages can maintain candidate engagement for otherwise overstretched HR departments. In 2019, Talent Board found that interview feedback delivered within a day raised the likelihood of a candidate maintaining a relationship with a company by 52%. Personalizing the feedback while using AI to further virtual candidate engagement can be efficient, especially if the company doesn't have a spare candidate engagement specialist on board.

Candidate Engagement Tips

Robotic, boilerplate emails comprise just one of the five recruiting communication mistakes that we covered in our Employa blog recently. A lack of feedback is another. Engaging candidates by gathering feedback is an important component of both continuous candidate engagement and creating candidate engagement strategies. Again, AI can help in both scaling up and speeding up the process.

Setting a good pace is of the essence, and feedback mechanisms can be a part of that. In a Talent Board article, Walgreens points out that the overhaul of their process incorporates recruitment velocity as well as satisfaction.

"Also, we measure and track how quickly candidates move through the recruitment process. If we notice any themes that result in a slowing of candidate movement, we can further investigate and take immediate action to correct the issue."

Talent Board, Walgreens case study

Candidate engagement interview questions will also convey very quickly whether a company is just filling slots or has the candidate in mind. Unprepared managers and a lack of understanding what the candidate does are two huge errors that a good candidate engagement strategy will overcome, especially when it comes to skilled labor hires. In some companies, candidate engagement specialists will be responsible for making sure that subject matter experts (SMEs) are at hand to discuss (and vet!) the nuts and bolts of what the candidate does. Those SMEs should also be prepared to discuss life at the company from the perspective of someone who does something similar to what the candidate will be doing.

Interviews are another point at which the company's own direction will determine how much technology fits the recruiting process. Are automated, virtual interviews a useful tool with candidates for a given role, and what feedback mechanisms are available to candidates - and how soon?

Engagement beyond Day 1 is more important now that many workers will log on to the new company while sitting at the same kitchen counter they were at in the old place. In other words, continuous candidate engagement doesn't have to stop on the first day of work. Trial periods work both ways, so ensuring that the new hire doesn't feel dumped (or duped) into a pile of tasks and forgotten will aid raising both candidate satisfaction and new hire retention.

Recruiting Platforms and the Future

Like  Microsoft's Satya Nadella, LinkedIn CEO Ryan Rolansky (who works for Nadella) says that we're in the middle of the Great Reshuffle. Rolansky's position within LinkedIn gave him a front-row seat for observing the reordering of employee-employer relations, and he says that LinkedIn has seen changes to user positions in their profiles rise by 54% in the first nine months of 2021. The changes, he told Time Magazine, are deeper than just changing jobs, and they're permanent.

"And while this reshuffle of talent will most likely play out for another year or two, I believe it will ultimately settle back down in a place that’s going to lead to greater effectiveness for businesses, greater fulfillment for employees."

Ryan Roslavsky, LinkedIn CEO

Those companies that focus on "greater fulfillment for employees" will start that process with continuous candidate engagement.

As companies adjust to the upheaval Rolansky is seeing, recruiting platforms will be an increasingly important part of recruiters' lives. Companies showing candidates a personalized, though virtual candidate engagement process will remain far ahead of those who buy a platform, turn it on, and expect miracles. However, companies that use recruiting platforms to gather data and optimize their processes as well as more efficiently and more warmly bring in new hires will be using the technology to its fullest.

When it comes to virtual candidate engagement, many companies will thrive by looking at the company as a place where talents can unfold. How that occurs, though, is determined by the specifics of the company. In some cases, changing processes can help. In others, updating technology is the key, and for still others, finding a reliable partner can work wonders. Employa is an AI-driven research assistant that helps recruiters by using AI to select only the best applicants and ensure that your communications and requirements stand out. If you are considering how to reconfigure your hiring processes, contact us here.

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