5 tips for staying engaged with candidates in a remote world

Oct 26, 2020 - Cat DiStasio

Right now, there are more than 12 million people looking for work across the country, nearly double the figures from 2019. The coronavirus pandemic has forced many companies to lay off workers or shrink recruiting goals to stay afloat amid the economic slowdown. What this means for recruiters is a mixed bag. While there may be more job seekers in the market than ever before in your career, the challenge of connecting with the right talent for your organization hasn’t gotten much easier. In fact, with so many candidates out there, the competition for skilled workers has increased, if anything.

What does it take to compete for top talent, especially when you can’t meet with candidates in person? You need a strategic plan to foster candidate engagement that works no matter where you and your ideal candidates may be. Using virtual tools to support your communication will help you attract the best candidates and keep them engaged throughout the recruiting process.

And it should go without saying that you have to start this process long before you need to fill a role. If you wait to connect with job seekers until you have an open req on your desk, it’s too late. Fortunately, you can start now to create a pipeline full of qualified, engaged candidates to fill future roles. To make your job a little easier, we’re sharing five best practices for candidate engagement that you can start using today to secure those relationships and make better hires.

#1 Find your people

Every recruiter knows the key to making better hires is not a numbers game. It’s about finding the right talent for your organization. The most engaged candidates are typically the ones that are the best fit for your team, both in terms of skill sets and culture fit, so you’ll achieve the best results by targeting relevant talent pools to build your talent pipeline. The best way to do this is to connect with candidates where they are. Create candidate personas and include lists of where to find them—universities, professional associations, industry conferences, etc. Reach out to job seekers who fit your profile of an ideal candidate and invite them to engage with you in your own talent community. You can build this community on social media platforms, but you may also want to create a hub on your website’s career page and offer email and text messaging subscriptions to share updates with job seekers. This approach will make it easier to fill positions when the time comes, because you’ll have a network of candidates to dip into and invite to virtual career fairs or schedule for interviews.

#2 Communicate early, often, and clearly to drive engagement

More and better communication tops the list of what job seekers want from potential employers, according to Glassdoor research. More than half of job seekers (58%) put clear and regular communication at the highest priority, with clear expectations (53%) and feedback regarding rejection (51%) trailing close behind. Organizations that make consistent communication a central theme of the recruiting process have a better chance at attracting and connecting with the right talent, and keeping those candidates engaged throughout the recruiting process. Fortunately, communicating with candidates remotely is not a complicated or difficult process. It just takes a little thought and planning on your part. Use email or text messaging (according to each candidate’s preference and the best medium for the message you’re sending) to keep candidates informed about upcoming career fairs, informational events, and their status in the recruiting process, even when they haven’t made the cut.

#3 Ask the right questions

Candidates who feel special are more likely to stay engaged, rather than those made to feel like just a number. There are two key ways to achieve this result: be organized and professional, and learn what is unique about each candidate. During pre-screening conversations and interviews, make sure recruiters ask each candidate the same questions during interviews. Prepping questions in advance or even writing a script helps convey to candidates that you’re taking the process seriously and respecting their time. It can also reduce implicit bias and give candidates the sense they are being considered fairly.

Giving candidates more opportunities to talk about themselves also helps increase candidate engagement. Ask more open-ended questions to let candidates know you’re interested in hearing their stories, and you’re likely to get a better idea of who is a good fit for your organization than you would if you only asked yes/no questions.

#4 Support their remote job search

Building a healthy talent pipeline isn’t actually all about job postings and interviews. The fact is, job seekers may interact with dozens of companies in their search for employment and they want to find the best fit as much as you do. Many organizations have embraced this reality and are sharing tools and information to help candidates in their job search. This can be as simple as sharing interview tips and resume advice on your social media channels and career site, or as involved as hosting virtual events with access to recruiting experts. When candidates feel that an organization is invested in helping them find the best position and not just filling an empty seat, they’re more likely to think favorably about your company when they get a virtual career fair invitation or review your open positions.

#5 Ask for feedback

A virtual recruiting event shouldn’t be the last time a job seeker hears from someone at your company. After recruiting events, always ask candidates about their experience. Asking for their opinions lets candidates know you care, and can help you plan better virtual recruiting events in the future. If candidates report any major problems in their feedback, don’t delay in responding and addressing their concerns. Resolving complaints quickly, whenever possible, could help you keep a valuable candidate from dropping out of your pipeline.

Finding new ways to engage remote candidates

Nobody knows what challenges lie ahead for businesses, even when it comes to recruiting. These strategies will help you adapt to our current circumstances and protect you from whatever comes next.

Learning how to use virtual recruiting tools helps you attract top talent, build relationships, and keep candidates engaged in your talent community. Investing time and energy in communication with candidates ensures that your talent pipeline is healthy and active so you can tap into it whenever a new job req comes across your desk, and know you’ll find candidates who are a good match right at your fingertips.