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How to keep candidates engaged: attract the best


As applicants start to apply to your job postings, you may feel a sense of accomplishment with your recruiting strategy. Soon, however, you may start to scramble to manage everything – and wondering how to keep candidates engaged.

What if there was a better way to organize your recruiting process that would enable you to capitalize on the talent that’s coming your way? How could you streamline your process to make it easier to keep up with and connect with applicants who want to work for your company?

When you simplify your application process, streamline your method of communication and narrow your candidate list according to cultural fit, you can build a pool of solid candidates and make growing your team a manageable objective.

Make the process as easy and intuitive

While you might think that making applicants jump through hoops to prove their desire to work for your company is a good approach, those highly skilled candidates you’re seeking can afford to be choosy about where they work. It’s not likely they’ll want to navigate an obstacle course before they even land an interview.

Keep the  application process simple – and save the hoop jumping exercises for the final rounds of the recruitment process once the applicant is engaged.

Another factor that’s important to consider is your applicants’ experience on your career website. Are jobs easy to search and access? Is the application process clunky? Does it require too many clicks? Do they have to enter the same information multiple times? A frustrating application process could cause leading candidates to write off your company.

Candidates consider the entire recruitment experience when they’re evaluating your business. In fact, two out of five candidates say their perception of a company is negatively impacted if the career site is not easy to navigate on their smartphones or tablets, according to CareerBuilder. This may be another area to consider improving if you’re truly committed to finding top talent.

Follow up in a timely manner

Consistent engagement is an essential part of keeping candidates warm and interested. That’s why it’s vital to reply to all applicants within 24 to 48 hours. No one likes to spend time tediously filling out an application, customizing their resume to a position or painstakingly writing a compelling cover letter, only to be left hearing crickets.

In your reply, graciously thank applicants. Also, let them know you received the application and are reviewing it. If you use technology and your process is automated, ensure your auto-response to applicants is warm and friendly.

Finally, it goes without saying (but here goes), be sure you’re proofreading your emails before sending. Don’t just double-check the body of the email for mistakes. Make sure there are no errors in your subject line either – it’s the first thing they’ll see when the email hits their inbox. Typos and errors can cause candidates to doubt your company’s credibility.

With a prompt reply to the initial application and a speedy follow-up to subsequent interviews, you can rest assured that you’re making the best impression possible with your top picks.

Select the best cultural fit

While it might seem like the most educated or experienced applicant is your ideal employee, it’s also important to consider how well their cognitive and interpersonal skills compliment the job role as well. Asking the right questions can help you find the right cultural fit.

CLUES, an acronym for five factors that make up the human personality, can help reveal how a candidate might work with your team.

CLUES to look for:

Conscientious – Degree to which an individual is persistent, organized and motivated

Likable – Degree to which an individual is pleasant and agreeable

Unconventional – Degree to which an individual is open to new ideas and experiences and has original thoughts

Extroverted – Degree to which an individual’s emotional energy is focused, from outgoing and dominant to introverted and shy

Stable – Degree to which an individual is self-confident and poised

Proactively recruit talent

These days, smart companies are taking a more proactive approach to their recruitment by looking at the potential of an individual to help a business, rather than focusing on how their particular skill set matches a specific job opening (and dismissing them if they aren’t an exact match).

For example, if a strong applicant shows great competency, drive and motivation, but doesn’t have a skill set to fit a particular job opening at the time, you might place him or her into your talent pool for a future opportunity. With several solid candidates identified, your business has a ready-to-go roster of qualified talent available for consideration when new positions open up.

Keep candidates warm and connected

As technology continues to advance, many companies have put the kibosh on ineffective, traditional recruiting methods in hopes of keeping more highly-sought-after candidates interested.

For example, Zappos, an online retail company, are taking a whole new approach to courting their applicants. According to a recent Washington Post article, the company asks interested candidates to join their “Zappos Insider” network and interact with the company. As interested parties engage on the network, the company’s recruiters have a pool of candidates at-the-ready when new positions open up.

While most businesses won’t have the budget to create a custom online network to engage with job candidates, there are plenty of affordable applicant tracking systems available. These systems store applicant information in a database to ensure you have a stream of candidates in the pipeline.

Many applicant tracking systems also offer an intuitive career portal that helps ensure applicants have a positive experience when applying for a job with your company.

They will also make the overall recruitment process easier with improved workflows that streamline submittal and hiring procedures. Once an applicant is in your system, it will be easier to search the system for available candidates and tap into that pool of talent that you’ve already identified.

As you consider applicant tracking systems, be sure to research a variety of vendors including Insperity.