The Most Effective Candidate Engagement Tactics

With company information, culture and employee reviews readily available on websites like Glassdoor, Facebook and Twitter, the recruitment process has become far more social (and personal) than ever before. However, basic recruitment principles still apply – we need to choose the right medium, the right message, and the right time to contact both active and passive candidates.


The options for outreach are abundant, you can tweet, instant message, request to connect, send a message via social media inbox, email, call/voicemail, text message or email with an embedded video, just to name a few. So, what is the most effective candidate engagement strategy?

A survey of 1,000 full- and part-time workers in April 2016 showed that 79 percent of passive candidates prefer to be emailed by a recruiter. Written communication makes sense, right? Responses can be sent and received at any time of day; it also can be convenient for those using smartphones, who can access various forms of social media and email from apps while they are on the go throughout the day. 

There are potential challenges with this approach, especially if you are relying on it for the majority of your recruitment efforts. Emails and written communication are easy to ignore or filter out of your inbox. Not only is it a passive way to communicate, but you are also limited to what you can say and the entire communication is based on an assumption that you know what will capture candidates' interests. 

I am not saying email, inmail, text or other social outreach are ineffective, but that they often require follow up. Having been in recruitment for more than a decade, what I've found to work best is a varied communication strategy that utilizes many of the channels available today. There is much to be said for picking up the phone and calling a candidate directly as well. This gives you the opportunity to speak with them and find out some of their "hot buttons" when it comes to job interest. This approach is also key to helping you understand if you have an opportunity that is a fit for them, and how to position it in alignment with a specific candidate’s interest. 


In addition to the method you choose to communicate through, the content of your message is more critical than ever. With the unemployment rate down to 4.4 percent as of April 2017, the lowest it’s been since 2007, businesses must be able to attract and recruit qualified candidates while dealing with stiff competition. A recruiter is often the first person a candidate encounters, and while this is often not verbal it can limit the opportunity to tailor the message to a specific person’s wants and interests. 

The focus should be about the candidate; specifically, why you chose to contact them (your personalized message), why this is a good opportunity for them, and why they should consider your company (perks, benefits, culture/team details). In January 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median tenure of an employee was 4.2 years, so positioning the job with growth opportunity for the candidate is important. 


We are a society that is always on the go, so picking convenient times for certain types of contact may impact your response rate. If you are calling candidates who are currently employed, the best times to try and reach them may be first thing in the morning, around lunchtime, or late afternoon. If you are sending a message on LinkedIn mid-morning, for example, they may see it at work, but forget about it by the time they are at home and able to respond. But sending an email to their personal email address or on a social site, something candidates often check in the evenings after work, can be an optimal time for them to read and respond. With varied schedules and responsibilities, it is also important to note that a passive candidate often won’t respond after only one outreach. As a result, it may take frequent targeted outreach attempts to engage them. 

There is no "one size fits all" for candidate engagement and outreach strategy, but if you take what you’re saying, when you’re saying it and what medium you’re saying it through into consideration when contacting candidates, while also personalizing your messages, you may see an uptick in your response rate. Ultimately, my advice is to track your outreach and message content, and monitor what is proving to be effective for you. Adjust your strategy and approach as necessary.


HR Technologies

Andrea Bowen