As recruiting evolves, we are becoming more of a high-touch, high engagement and relationship driven function that operates more and more every day like a marketing department, focused on touches, responsiveness, and providing resources for our target audience of qualified candidates.
Over the last several years, the unemployment rate has dropped back down to a pre-recession percentage of 4.3%. That means fewer job seekers for each opportunity and more difficulty for employers in finding qualified candidates, particularly in industries that hire a high volume of employees like retail and restaurants. It also puts pressure on companies to focus attention on candidate experiences and to make it a key focus of a talent acquisition and employer brand strategy.
Additionally, with easy access to social media, disgruntled job seekers have the channels to be more vocal about their candidate experiences. According to a CareerArc survey, nearly 60% of candidates surveyed said they had a poor candidate experience, and 72% of those candidates shared that experience online. It’s not just your employee review sites either; the candidate’s experience during recruitment not only determines their willingness to join your company, it also shapes the relationship they have with your brand and their willingness to make purchases from your company. In short, candidates are also consumers and a poor candidate experience shared on social media can impact your consumer brand negatively - something retailers shouldn’t risk.
So how do you recruit at a high volume and ensure a positive candidate experience? How do you win loyal customers through a recruiting process during which you will have to reject many candidates without risking a negative stain on your brand? Providing an engaging and rich candidate experience is a challenge, especially in high volume recruiting industries like retail, restaurant and hospitality.
How Candidate Nurturing Improves the Candidate Experience
Candidate nurturing is key to maintaining a positive candidate experience, from job application to interview to acceptance or rejection. Some of these functions can be automated, but many require high-touch from recruiters. High volume recruitment is going to take time, by definition. While technology will help, it’s still time-consuming to hire hundreds of people.
Here are a few ideas to use your time judiciously with a focus on positive results:
Screening. This is one area that can be optimized for high-volume hiring, especially with the technology now available. You want to ensure that unqualified candidates aren’t accidentally moved further through your hiring funnel, but also effectively communicate to applicants that aren’t being considered (as opposed to “ghosting” them, which is quite common). Your ATS should be robust enough to have a customization function so that you can communicate personally and less generically, using multiple candidate response templates, for example. If a candidate matches five of your 10 top hiring qualifications, they should get a different rejection email than a candidate who matches nine out of 10. Consider that candidates who are close, but not quite there, may reapply - and encourage them to do so in your automated response.
Surveys. We send surveys to internal employees to gauge employee satisfaction and potential participation in programs and perks. Consider sending pulse surveys to a select group of candidates (those you have an interest in following the initial application). This could be a four or five question survey asking the candidates to share their goals, interests, or even something like a hobby or other non work-related personal aspect. Be clear in the survey that the responses will not be factored into the hiring decision. With the additional information, you can get a broader idea of what each candidate’s interests are, and it can be used by the hiring manager during the interview process to better personalize the interview experience. The goal is to show the candidate that you have genuine interest in them as people. The human aspect is what will help your company and brand stand out in a positive way, whether you end up hiring the candidate or not. The best part of this nurturing strategy is that surveys can be easily automated.
Personalized rejection response. When a candidate makes it past an in-person interview and are on a top five or 10 list of considered candidates for the position, consider removing them from the automated rejection process and making a personal phone call instead. Job seekers are so accustomed to form rejections via email that a phone call from you stating “it was a difficult decision that came down to you and a very short list; we’d love to keep your resume on file because we think you’re great” will absolutely stand out as a positive candidate experience. You might even consider training your hiring managers to make rejection calls. Hearing directly from a hiring manager is meaningful for a job seeker, even when the answer is “no.”
The follow up. If a top candidate isn’t selected for hire, they would typically receive the same form letter from your ATS with a “thanks but no thanks.” And then they’re forgotten when your company has future hiring needs. If a candidate makes it pretty far into your hiring process, consider segmenting out a short list of top candidates that came close to being hired and setting up a newsletter that follows a more personalized rejection response. This is a way to keep your company relevant to quality candidates and will give you a pool of candidates to reach out to for future hiring needs, something that is highly valuable in high volume recruiting. Your “former candidate” newsletter can include information about your company, as well as feature other positions open at your company (and new openings). There’s also an element of content marketing, and the potential to win over the candidate in the consumer relationship.
All candidates should receive a list of candidate resources to help them in their recruitment and hiring process whether it’s with your organization or with someone else. The key is to create not just a candidate experience but to create a referral source for that continues to drive high quality job seekers helping to expand and grow your employment brand in far reaching ways.
Candidate Nurturing Humanizes the Hiring and Recruitment Process
The bottom line: Keep the “human” in human resources, whether you’re hiring 100 or 1,000 new employees. Review your company’s screening and application processes with a focus on candidate experience. Be nimble enough to improve and modify specific areas of the candidate journey in real-time, and take the time to step back and view your hiring process from the perspective of a job seeker. Automate what you can - especially in scheduling and candidate communication - but take the time to personalize the experience. Every candidate is a potential consumer and a positive candidate experience can win lifetime loyalty, whether they’re hired or not.