Countdown To recruitDC: Looking At Candidate Engagement

Ed Note: The fall 2014 recruitDC event is just days away. The schedule is packed with great interactive content and I am honored to moderate the engaging talent panel. We’re sharing a sneak peek with you, where each of the panelists will provide their perspective of candidate engagement.  We are going to start the series with Will Thomson with Rosetta Stone.
Employee engagement is a topic that is frequently discussed in HR.  Employee engagement is the relationship between an organization and its employees. An “engaged employee” is one who without hesitation takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.  They believe in their organization and are not just in it for the paycheck.

What about candidate engagement? How would you define and differentiate the two? As a recruiter, I know that if you are going to have engaged employees, you have to hire the right people into the right roles within an organization.  Organizations want the best of the best, and in 2015 it will be a candidate’s market.  Recruiters now more than ever are going to have to keep candidates engaged and interested in the roles.

Candidate engagement begins with the initial phone call and is an ongoing exercise that continues through employment.  It is how you interact with candidates,  the selling of the organization, the knowledge of the role, and the personal relationship you build with the candidate.  It is the frequent touches that articulates the organization and builds a desire for them to join your team.

Keeping candidates engaged through the process can be difficult.  Hiring isn’t always on the candidates time frame.  There are frequently a number of key stakeholders that need to interview before a decision is made.  A candidate in 2015 will have a number of opportunities they may be looking at before making a decision.

Consistent engagement is essential in attracting candidates.  Telling them what to expect in the interview process is key.  I make sure to lay out specific timelines and ask candidates their time frame for making a change.  I have deep intake sessions with the manager and ask for feedback within a certain period of time to ensure the candidates don’t get forgotten about.  I make sure that a candidate in the process gets a minimum of one phone call a week.  If it is a short process and an urgent hire, it is not uncommon for me to call every day or every couple of days.  Some candidates prefer email or text, but the phone always seems to add value and keeps the employees engaged.

To stay on top of the process,  I give each hiring manager a feedback form and it is tracked in a Google document.  I check the status regularly and ask for feedback within 48 hours.  I use a Google calendar to set as a reminder to follow up with the individual candidates.

I am a global recruiter dealing with time zones from coast-to-coast and overseas.  To mange my time effectively and make sure that all of the candidates are touched, I again use my calendar to remind me when I should be making the calls.   When dealing with someone from London, I realize there is a 6-hour time zone difference and those calls should be made the first part of the morning.

I get frustrated with bad candidate engagement for a number of reasons.  The most important is reason is I want everyone to think as highly about my organization as I do. I also know people talk.  If people have a bad experience, they will tell others about their poor experience.  The worst scenario of all is if candidate engagement is bad, you may have poor employee engagement which will hurt your organization in the future.

In conclusion, good candidate engagement is essential to having the right employees in your organization.  If you were the candidate, wouldn’t you expect the same?

Now over to you what is your perspective on candidate engagement?  What would you like to discuss further with the panel?


Will Thomson lives in Austin, Texas and has been in recruitment and sales for 20 years. He is the founder of Bullseye Recruiting and Global sales & marketing recruiter for Rosetta Stone. Bullseye Recruiting was also listed in the Top 50 blogs for Young Careerists by YouTern in July of 2014 and Top 150 Career & Leadership Blogs by Career Rocketeer in September of 2014. Connect with Will on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter