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How to Keep Candidates Engaged On a Long Recruiting Timeline

Posted by Kandace Miller

Job seekers and employers aren’t always on the same page when it comes to recruiting timelines. In fact, a recent Addison Group survey shows that 40% of candidates will lose interest in a job if they haven’t heard back from a hiring manager within a week of the interview, while 54% of recruiters say that the hiring process can take as long as a month. What’s more, hiring timelines in the U.S. continue to get longer, increasing by 15% since 2009. According to experts, that’s all the more reason for employers to create a candidate experience that will make job seekers feel valued. “It is crucial to get hiring right not only for the hiring entity, but also, and very importantly, for the person being hired,” says Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser at Egon Zehnder International and the author of “Great People Decisions.”

While keeping candidates engaged can seem challenging, setting clear expectations can do a lot to establish a good relationship from the start. And it shouldn’t stop there. Here’s how to ensure that you’re providing the best experience for your candidates and getting the hires you want.

Outline a hiring timeline

Before you even post a job, you should have a clear idea of how long the hiring process will take. The best way to do this is by mapping out key steps in the process, including everything from sourcing candidates to initial phone screens and the various rounds of interviews. Once you’ve outlined the steps, assign a timeframe to each one, making sure to bake in enough days for potential issues like busy schedules or additional interviews. During your initial conversation with candidates, walk them through this timeline and be sure to let them know when they can expect to hear about next steps and to receive feedback. By crafting a comprehensive timeframe from the outset, you’ll be able to eliminate potential issues like candidate drop-off and to ensure that your top talent sticks with you through the process.

Communicate early and often

Effective communication is a great way to build trust with your candidates and to eliminate the risk of leaving potential employees in the dark. But for many recruiting departments, staying on top of candidate emails can be tough, especially during a busy hiring cycle. An automated solution can be a great way to solve for this by streamlining communication and helping to make the process more personal. In addition to keeping track of emails so that you always know the communication history with each candidate, this type of platform also offers the option of sending personalized texts that can help you engage with your candidates in a quicker and more authentic way. The result? Response rates can be as high as 80% when you communicate with candidates on their terms. By keeping the lines of communication open, you’ll be able to give your candidates the information they need and help them move through the process seamlessly.

Develop an onboarding strategy

It’s easy to think that the hiring process ends once an offer is accepted, but the truth is that the talent journey doesn’t stop there. In fact, a structured onboarding process can mean the difference between strong employee retention or high turnover. According to research, 60% of employees are likely to stay with an organization for more than three years if there is a strong onboarding process in place, whereas 15% are likely to leave if the process is missing or ineffective. In short, effective onboarding should a big part of the hiring process and starting this while you’re still in the recruiting phase can optimize the experience for your candidates. So what’s the best way to create an engaging onboarding flow? Staying in touch with new hires after they accept their offer is a great first step and it can help to alleviate any anxiety they may have about what their first day on the job. Sending a welcome email, as well as important orientation information in the days before their start date can go even farther in helping them feeling like a valued member of the team.

While long recruiting timelines can make it challenging to keep candidates informed and moving through the process, showing that you’re committed to providing the best experience possible can make all the difference when it comes to getting the hires you want.

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