Candidate Engagement

What is Candidate Engagement & Why Does it Matter Right Now?

Apr 20, 2022 - Cat DiStasio

Definition of Candidate Engagement

Candidate engagement (noun) is the ongoing process of interactions between job seekers and potential employers including communication (email, text, conversations) and actions (applications, interview decisions, job offers). Candidate engagement is closely related to candidate experience, and together they can be a strong predictor of the quality of your hires.

Why does Candidate Engagement Matter?

If prospective candidates aren’t engaged—and engaged early in the hiring process—you’ll lose them, possibly before you even have a chance to meet them. Employers can keep candidates engaged by delivering the kind of candidate experience they want out of a job search. This starts long before they fill out an application or participate in an interview, and even applies to passive candidates. But you can’t expect job seekers to bend over backwards to engage with every potential employer and hiring manager out there. First, you have to offer these qualified candidates attractive invitations and opportunities to connect that are not directly tied to specific job applications within your recruitment process. (More on that below.)

Candidate Engagement is Everything Right Now

In a talent-driven candidate market, engagement within the candidate journey is king. If potential candidates aren’t engaged while in your hiring process (or worse, have a bad candidate experience), you may see a spike in candidate ghosting, the number one challenge plaguing talent acquisition teams this year.

In 2021, job seekers seized control of the talent market when the amount of available job opportunities and openings outpaced the number of people looking for work. There are still 4.6 million more available positions than unemployed workers, meaning employers continue to face steep challenges in competing for their attention, assessing candidates quickly, and making hires that will last. Creating and implementing shrewd candidate engagement strategies is that path to success in a tight talent market.

How to Measure Candidate Engagement

Candidate engagement is a reflection of a candidate experience (both good and bad during a job search), and talent acquisition leaders can lean on data to paint a picture of what’s really happening in the recruiting process. To effectively measure candidate engagement and your relationships with candidates, track a range of KPIs throughout the hiring cycle. Look at pre-application touchpoints that make sense for your target talent pool, such as career site chats and virtual event attendance to illustrate engagement early in the funnel. Tracking application completion rate, candidate drop-off rate (ghosting, etc), time to fill positions, interview-to-offer ratio, offer acceptance rate, and candidate satisfaction can all paint the portrait of candidate engagement. Taking the pulse of candidate engagement gives you a reality check, tests your observations, and illustrates your baseline for improvement in your application process.

How to Improve Candidate Engagement

As with all KPIs, tracking this data over time and using insights to inform your strategies will help you hone in on a successful formula for your organization. Leveraging what you learned from your data, create and follow a candidate engagement strategy that prioritizes options. Today’s job seekers want access to more information, and they want it earlier in the candidate engagement process.

What this looks like will vary, and should always be a reflection of your company culture and values. Some strategies to consider are including salary ranges in job postings, featuring employee stories on your careers site and social media, offering job seekers the ability to chat with a recruiter early in the process, and hosting virtual recruiter Q&A sessions and virtual employee resource group (ERG) events.

Engaged Candidates Lead to Better Hires

Investing time and energy in measuring and improving candidate engagement in your recruitment process can lead to better recruiting outcomes overall. Boosting engagement within your candidate pipeline means less time wasted on job seekers who aren’t interested, and that means more opportunities to have meaningful conversations with those quality candidates who are. By considering candidate engagement as part of your broader positive candidate experience strategy, you can better position your organization to attract and connect with top talent—and, with smart adherence to your carefully planned strategy, you’ll be better equipped to square off against competing employers trying to eye the same candidate pool or talent network.

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