Tips and Tricks

How to Talk to Candidates as a Recruiter: 5 Ways to Start Using Conversational Recruiting Today

Dec 04, 2018 - Joe Matar

This consistent and fluid flow of information has helped our species reign supreme in this world. It has allowed us to form groups, villages, and civilizations, something no other species has been able to do to such an extent. Communication, and the resulting relationships, have been the driving force behind thousands of years of growth for humans.

Yet, when it comes to recruiting, we’ve gotten away from this concept of consistent and fluid communication. Glassdoor found that the average hiring process time takes almost 24 days which means that there is a lot of silence between candidate and company, job seeker and recruiter, human and human. And this is bad news for recruiters and organizations who have many open positions yet are struggling to build relationships with top talent.

The secret is getting back to our basics and putting away that stack of resumes. That’s where conversational recruiting comes into play. Conversational recruiting is all about enabling communication between recruiter and job seeker in the easiest way possible. And while there are a plethora of benefits to conversational recruiting, this article will focus on five ways you can start implementing conversational recruiting today.

1. Email Communication

Email communication has been around for 50 years so you may be wondering what more there is to say about it. Well, first, email open rates are down to, on average, 22% in North America and click through rates are even more dismal at less than 4%, according to the GetResponse data.

One of the main reasons why these numbers are so low is because emails are often not relevant to the receiver. And the reason why emails are no longer relevant is because of automated emails and spam. This applies to consumers and candidates alike.

Think about it. When an employer sends an automated email to a candidate who applies to a job, it usually sounds robotic and impersonal. Just because you use “Hi, [FIRST NAME]” doesn’t make your email any more conversational or real. However, I’m not arguing to get rid of automated emails. I realize that, for some positions, it is nearly impossible to respond personally to every candidate. So if you must use automated emails, try to make them more real. Rev up those soft skills and write like you’re talking to someone you know.


conversational recruiting email fails


Get rid of the personalization tokens as I mentioned above. Oh, and avoid the email templates that were designed by your agency. There is no greater giveaway that the email is automated than when you use an intricately designed email template. Instead, choose a basic template and talk to your candidates like you talk to your co-workers, friends, and family. Like you actually care about building a relationship.

2. AI-Powered Chatbots and Live Chat on the Career Site

Live chat and AI-powered chatbots have been around for a while but until recently were mostly used on websites for customer service. And they typically weren’t used very well by recruiters or hiring managers. However, these days, job seekers demand the fast and efficient communications that only a live chat or a recruiting chatbot can offer.

By combining data from Glassdoor and AppCast, we found that employers must drive almost 5,000 visitors to their job site just to get one hire! That’s a lot of money spent on sourcing, recruitment marketing and employer branding. But again, the breakdown in the funnel seems to go back to the lack of communication. Yes, more and more employers are adding employee stories and culture videos to their career sites. But that is only half of the conversation.

Top talent want to be made to feel like they matter during a recruitment process. They want a recruiter or hiring manager to reach out to them and show they want to build a relationship. And by offering these candidates the option to chat right on the employer’s site, this feeling is met.

Plus, with the advances in AI, chatbots can mimic humans and help pre-screen candidates before job interviews so that only the top people are connected with a recruiter for either a live or asynchronous conversation.

The Recruiting Chatbot Revolution ad

3. Social Media

Conversational recruiting extends to social media as well. Social media was built for conversations and meetings and yet too many employers and talent acquisition managers don’t use it in this way. The social media feeds of many employers look like a river with a never-ending flow of dead trees (where the dead trees are job descriptions and postings). The appropriate water metaphor should be that conversational recruiting on social media should be like a public pool where any job seeker or candidate is welcomed to dive in and join the conversation.

conversational recruiting is like jumping in a pool

And this is not just about job postings. Smart companies are posting and starting conversations about jobs, company updates, skill development, and industry trends. You should do the same. Be direct and ask job seekers or candidates for feedback on the content you post.

Conversations are not only a great way to continue engaging with candidates that are already in the pipeline but are also a great way to start building relationships with those hard-to-find candidates that your sourcers struggle to reach. If passive candidates are engaging with the content, this gives the sourcers the opportunity to reach out to the candidate to start a different conversation about convincing that candidate to join your team.

As a side note, it’s interesting that LinkedIn, which is the major social media platform when it comes to recruiting, uses the phrase “start a conversation” when you connect with someone on the platform. LinkedIn gets the power of conversational recruiting on social media. Do you?

LinkedIn Start a Conversation

4. Online Events

I’m not sure if you have ever been to an in-person event like a career fair or a networking event (or a cocktail party?) but the only way one can be successful (as either a recruiter or a job seeker) during an interview situation is by having conversations. Meeting people. Learning about people. Connecting with people. Building relationships. And the best part is that in the recruiting space, all of this can happen online for the entire interview process.

For example, Brazen’s conversational recruiting platform supports not just chat and recruiting chatbots on the career site, but also chat within the context of an event.

Online hiring events and online career fairs are a perfect way for employers to bring together a plethora of qualified candidates to have conversations with recruiters, hiring managers, and future co-workers. Like in-person events, online hiring events take place at a scheduled time. Topics of conversation can range from job specific topics to company culture to internal mobility. Just like the dinner table, the conversation topics are endless, so don't just stick to classic interview questions. And online events for recruiting allow recruiters to have many meaningful conversations with talent within a short period of time, often across the country.

5. Video

You may be wondering how a one-sided communication channel like video made it on this list. And while I agree that technically speaking it is impossible to have a two-way conversation using recorded video, I think that when combined with some of the previous channels it can be a very powerful conversational recruiting tool.

The first thing to remember when it comes to video when using it for conversational recruiting is to make sure the video comes across as an authentic and real experience (I wrote a whole post on this topic if you’re interested in how important authenticity is to your candidates). If we circle back to the beginning of this post, remember that conversational recruiting is all about relationship building during an interview. And the only way to truly build relationships is by building trust over time. That’s why the videos you create must come across as authentic and real, not highly produced and fake. For example, check out the video I created below when Brazen was hiring for a sales position:

Then, combined with a channel like email or social media, you can promote the video and start a conversation with candidates and job seekers. That’s conversational recruiting on steroids. Pretty cool, huh?

Conversational Recruiting is the Future

At Brazen, we believe that conversations are the future of recruiting for any recruiting function in our modern labor market and that we have only just begun. As candidates demand that organizations care more about their needs, recruiters will be forced to meet these demands or else risk losing the talent war.

And while technology is helping make conversational recruiting much easier for recruiters (see AI-powered chatbots above, for example) we already have the basics stored within us. Now (just as with any challenging project) we just have to go and apply it.

The Recruiting Chatbot Revolution ad

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