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Close the communication gap: Optimizing your candidate experience

During an economic downturn, a smooth, fast and impactful candidate experience gives your organization a major competitive advantage. Experienced talent acquisition leader Edward Demm has this advice for improving yours.

A bad candidate experience can have major consequences to your recruitment process. 72% of job seekers have shared about a poor candidate experience on Glassdoor, Linkedin or other platform.

Yikes.

Most hiring managers and recruitment teams know the importance of a fast, high quality candidate experience. But how to craft one? That’s another story.

Ed Demm is a colleague relations professional and talent acquisition leader. He’s managed recruitment processes across several states and exceeded hire-rate expectations by 15%. In short, he knows his stuff when it comes to hiring top talent.

With Ed’s tips to improve your candidate communication strategy, you’ll optimize your applicant experience and get the top talent you deserve.

How to close communication gaps and optimize candidate experience

Why is a strong candidate communication strategy important?

Ed points out during the Great Resignation and looming recession, providing an above-average candidate experience is even more important to getting the top talent you need to grow. Because the market for great candidates is ultra-competitive, you have to provide an impressive experience to court them. Many job seekers are getting offers left and right. How can you stand out? 

A positive candidate experience leads to better hires

A world-class candidate experience attracts world-class job candidates. Hiring managers and talent acquisition teams, you just need to put your candidates first and create a better candidate experience than your competitors. To show them you’re “not only responsive, but interested,” says Ed. 

And what’s more important than communication throughout the recruitment process? Your candidates deserve only the best if you expect to captivate them.

In a traditional job market, it may be more reasonable to think it’s the candidates’ duty to impress you during the talent acquisition process. But during the Great Resignation, they’re in the driving seat. It’s up to you and your team to vy for their attention and provide a remarkable candidate experience.

But how?

Communicate clearly, consistently & quickly from the start

To get the talent you want on your team, your communication must be clear, consistent and quick. Even the smallest tweaks in your candidate communication strategy can make the biggest difference in making applicants feel valued and ultimately, accept your offer over any others.

As Kevin Small detailed, “Each new open position should start with an intake session.” At Field of Talent, we prefer to call them Search Strategy Sessions. They cover:

  • Why is the role compelling?
  • Why would someone want to work here? 
  • How do we convey these answers during the candidate experience?

Poor communication can easily derail a hiring process. Get clear on who and what you’re seeking before any other hiring practices.

Before any hiring process, hiring managers must create a service-level agreement and candidate communication strategy to optimize for a smooth experience. Ed points out “clear, consistent and quick” communication will mean different things for a different caliber of positions, so laying out standard operating procedures is necessary for each new hire.

Search strategy session summary

Create a realistic job description

Your candidate experience begins with your application process, job posting and description. Be clear and simple in how you explain your role, requirements and organization. That way, your candidates understand whether they’re a good fit for the position and disqualify themselves if not.

The type of details in a job description should accurately reflect your industry, accreditation requirements, the current job market, and the type of candidate you’re looking for.

Then, Ed says, at a bare minimum, you should respond to applicants in 24 hours or less to start the conversation or gently disqualify them. Even if they don’t fit your job requirements, you should never ghost candidates.

Clarity throughout the process is imperative to avoiding confusion, ambiguity and most importantly, new hire turnover. Any bit of uncertainty or ambivalence about your company can throw them off. Your candidates should have a clear understanding of what life looks like once employed. If they don’t, they either won’t accept your position or will quickly quit after being hired, leaving your process in reset mode and costing you thousands.

With the average hiring process 36 days, you must be quick to get the candidates you want on your team. Avoid new hire turnover by communicating clearly.

Personalize your candidate experience for communication style

The modern recruitment process demands a personalized candidate communication strategy, exclaims talent expert Ed Demm. So, what does that mean for your hiring process?

Start with communication style. How would your candidates prefer to be communicated with? What will make them feel valued and that you care? Via email, call, text? How do they want to be engaged after moving on in the process? 

Give them the choice at the onset of the application process and abide by it after hire. Catering to their needs, you’ll have an upperhand if you’re competing against other organizations for their skills. They’ll recognize your company as willing to meet employees where they are and provide a stellar employee experience. Plus, SMS communication is far faster than traditional outreach methods.

Additionally, the labor market is different everywhere, warns Ed. Having a multilingual team and the ability to translate all your recruitment process messaging can be powerful. For example, because Ed operated from an area in the Northeast that has a large Latino population, his team wrote job descriptions in both Spanish and English. Plus, several team members were able to speak fluent Spanish in interviews.

Knowing the strengths of your talent acquisition team is imperative. If you employ passionate people doing what they love, they create an impactful candidate experience.

Another example of making his recruitment process more accessible to all, Ed encouraged his team to be more available for screening. At the bottom of each description, candidates could tap on a phone number to immediately text and ask questions of the hiring team. A powerful change, Ed claims, that helped screen candidates, personalize the experience for top talent, and move quickly on those who are qualified. 

Ask for feedback

As mentioned above, all candidates matter to your recruitment process. It’s a two-way street. As such, ask for feedback from candidates, not just your top draft picks. How can we be clearer in our job postings? How would you improve our recruitment process?

And vice versa, Ed encourages organizations to give job seekers feedback – no matter if they’re screened out. They deserve your time and respect, just as you demand theirs. Candidates disqualified from your hiring process may try to apply again in the future with a new set of skills or experience. So, don’t do anything to disrespect them.

The feedback loop doesn’t end after your top talent is hired. Your candidate communication strategy should last at least a few weeks or months into their employment to guarantee:

  • They’re onboarded efficiently and smoothly
  • They have ideas to improve the recruitment or onboarding process

Work hand-in-hand with your human resources or people team to streamline communication during the transition from talent acquisition to full employment.

Candidate experience feedback benefits

Adopt AI & recruitment software

Before we talk tech, it’s critical you know that you don’t need the newest applicant tracking systems or recruitment software to remain competitive. But, the investment in technology is worth the payoff. Speeding up your recruitment process and making your offer faster will pay major dividends over time. 

As the fast-moving labor market changes, you must adapt. In just five years, the candidate experience has flipped on its head. Ed says talent acquisitions teams must embrace technology and understand that behavior, too, has changed. For example, his team leveraged PivotCX, a recruitment text messaging platform, to quickly screen thousands of candidates. “With conversational texting, candidates are more confident and candid talking with us versus a phone call. Texting is so much more flexible and agile.” Check out this quick breakdown of recruitment tech that will make your job easier.

Lastly, with the rise of remote and hybrid work, the candidate experience has greatly changed. Does your candidate prefer to meet virtually? Your recruitment team should adapt accordingly.

Ed tapped Field of Talent’s RPO instead of investing thousands in new technology and a revamped, in-house talent acquisition strategy. Want extra support to get the candidates you need to grow? Recruitment process outsourcing allows your team to be proactive and strategic while Field of Talent does the legwork. Save money on headhunter fees and get the talent you deserve by speeding up your hiring.

With time you can make these changes and more to improve your candidate experience and get the very best talent on the market:

  • Communicate clearly, consistently and quickly
  • Personalize your candidate experience
  • Ask for feedback
  • Adopt AI & recruitment technology

Gratitude to Ed Demm for sharing his unique wisdom and experience from the talent acquisition field.

Want a strategic talent acquisition partner? Field of Talent and recruitment process outsourcing is your solution. Get your free consultation here.

Close the communication gap: Optimizing your candidate experience

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