How to Recruit and Engage High-Quality Candidates

There are a lot of moving parts in recruiting. You have to build relationships with clients, get job orders, source candidates, and make suitable matches. THEN, you have to coach your top candidates to improve their chances of an offer, cross your fingers that an offer is extended, and hope they accept it. And even once you’ve done all that work, there is a chance you won’t see a dime for it! With all that to handle, who has time to worry about fluffy concepts like “candidate experience?”

Well, here’s the thing . . . you don’t have time NOT to worry about it. It’s rule #1 of how to recruit in today’s market—ignore the candidate experience at your own peril.

Your Candidates = Your Livelihood

Think about it: your clients may be the ones paying you, but what is the commodity they are paying you for? Interested, well-qualified candidates who will accept their offer, fit their culture, and excel in the position. They are the most important part of your recruiting success. Without them, you have nothing of value to your clients!

Unfortunately, many recruiters are in such a hurry to make placements, they neglect the candidates who aren’t the front-runners of a current search and more or less forget about those who don’t get the final offer. This is a Big Mistake. A cold, impersonal and uncommunicative recruiting experience can turn off an interested candidate faster than flipping a light switch. By allowing this, not only are you decreasing your current and future talent pool, you are also hurting your reputation and the reach of your network.

On the other hand, a candidate who didn’t receive an offer may be disappointed, but still interested in future openings—if they had a positive experience with you. These people are valuable: they increase the reach of your network, are more likely to refer their friends and connections to you, and can positively impact your online presence.

You simply cannot afford to ignore the impression you are giving your candidates, at every level of the search and placement process. With that in mind, the best way to recruit and engage high quality candidates is to improve the candidate experience you offer. But how?

According to candidates surveyed by SoftwareAdvice, communication is the key. Here’s how to take your communication game to a new level:

#1—Communicate with every candidate who submits a resume.

If you’re using a regular email client or an inefficient ATS to communicate with candidates, this probably sounds like an impossible task. How in the world can you take the time to communicate with every single candidate who submits a resume? And furthermore, why would you want to?

Every candidate who submits a resume to you is a worthy investment of your time for one of three reasons. They are either:

  • Your perfect fit for a current or possible future placement,
  • Someone who knows your perfect fit, or
  • The perfect person to tarnish your reputation and limit your success.

The thing is, if a candidate is frustrated or upset with the treatment they received, they can and will talk about it. If they complain about you to their friends, that’s not good, and it means you’ll never get a placement or a referral out of that relationship. But if they badmouth you online? That can seriously impact your future success.

The good news is that this is very avoidable! You don’t have to personally interact with every single person who sends you their info. Leverage technology to your advantage by using an ATS that allows you to set up workflows—things that happen automatically—and send out batch emails. Decide what, when, and why notifications will be sent to applicants. A good ATS will help you ensure that nobody ends up with a bad taste in their mouth due to a lack of communication on your part.

#2 – Provide value regularly by taking a page out of the “inbound marketing” book.

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that email marketing databases degrade by about 22.5% every year, according to HubSpot’s metrics. This rate is probably also fairly accurate for your recruiting database. By letting your contacts sit in your database and get stale, you lose ROI on the work you did to source them in the first place!

If you want to get more value out of your hard-won talent database, your best bet is to embrace an inbound marketing idea: content marketing. Get started with these tips:

  • Develop a content strategy based on your ideal audience (i.e. candidates who are a good match for most of your openings, or connected to people that are). Always remember that your main goal with content should be to provide value.
  • Start a blog. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Even if you only post an article a month, you’re accomplishing a LOT. You’ll get more traffic, better engagement, and increased SEO, and you’ll be establishing yourself as a valuable resource. Of course, this only works if your website is up to date and you have the ability to post blog articles easily.
  • Regularly email your contacts a newsletter. Choose a schedule and try to stick to it. You can keep it simple: include one article link that your audience would find relevant or helpful, and give them a list (with links!) of your hot job openings. A job board plug-in that is tied to your ATS and website makes this very easy, and it’s a great way to keep your firm and your jobs top-of-mind for candidates. You never know when their positions, locations, and skills may have changed!

#3 – Follow up with candidates who don’t get the offer.

The worst thing you can do is go radio silent on a candidate at any point in the hiring process. The second-worst thing you can do is give them a terrible excuse for being rejected. It’s in your best interest to thoughtfully communicate with these candidates, because today’s turn-downs may be tomorrow’s placements . . . unless they feel undervalued, forgotten about, or downright snubbed.

Engagement and Trust Matter

The best way to engage high-quality candidates is to make them feel like they (and their careers) are a priority for you. Follow the steps above, and you’ll be on your way to a game-changing candidate experience—and more successful placements.

More worried about the flip side of this equation–talking to your clients?