With all of the candidates you’ve likely found through your job postings, referrals and proactive sourcing methods, it may be a daunting task to try to communicate with all of them. But effective communication is key to keeping your top talent interested, while not hurting your employer brand by ignoring the unqualified candidates. Anyone that applies for a job at your company, or speaks to you regarding a new opportunity, wants to know what to expect next. And, with all the technology available today, it’s simply unacceptable not to communicate. The good news is, technology has made it really easy to communicate next steps to each and every one of your candidates.
While larger companies generally have an ATS to send automated messages, smaller companies also have some great, free or low cost options, such as SmartRecruiters. These tools are great because they allow you to keep all of your candidates in one place (versus some in CareerBuilder, others on Linkedin, and even more still in your email inbox), and message all of them from one place. From each stage in your recruitment process, you'll need to use these tools to communicate what the candidate should expect next. So quickly take note of each step in your process, figure out how long you spend in each step, and decide what comes next. Most processes look something like this:
Step 1: Post job and collect applications. Proactively source candidates. Ask for employee referrals.
Best practice: Upon resume submission, send an email to let the candidate know that it was received and that you will be reviewing resumes until [date]. This time period should be under 1 week, or you will risk losing your top candidates. Since passive candidates that come from proactive sourcing or referrals likely won't submit a resume, communicate the next steps during your initial phone call. Make sure you follow up with everyone on, or before, that date to let them know whether they are moving on to the next step.
At the very least, make sure the job description says that you will be reviewing resumes until [date] and only candidates that are under consideration will be contacted. However, you should still personally follow up with candidates that were found by you or your employees.
Step 2: Phone Screen(s).
Best practice: As mentioned above, try to pick your shortlist of candidates and get to the next phase of the recruiting process within a week (shorter time period is better). You should call or send an email to your shortlist to schedule a time to speak, while also sending emails to all other candidates to let them know they are no longer under consideration.
At the end of the phone screen, let candidates know the next step (usually an in-person interview, or a second phone screen with the hiring manager) and timing. Make sure to ask the candidate if they are currently considering any other offers, and speed up your process for that candidate, if necessary.
Step 3: In-person interview(s).
Best practice: Move to this step as quickly as possible, you don't want to lose the top candidates you've already worked so hard to attract. At the end of the interview process, let the candidate know when they should expect to hear back from you with a decision. This should be within a few days, tops - which will give you the opportunity to check references and discuss with your team.
Step 4: Offer.
This is perhaps the hardest part of the recruitment process, especially if you've done everything right and have only top candidates to consider. However, this is not the time to slow down. Top candidates may be considering other offers and you want to make sure you get the pick of the litter.
Once you make your decision, every single person you interviewed should be personally followed up with, either via phone or email - you don't want to leave anyone hanging, especially after they've invested so much of their time and energy into interviewing with your company. This is particularly important for your employment brand because anyone that's gotten this far in your recruitment process is likely very interested in working for your company.
By providing a great candidate experience, not only to these people - but also to those didn't get this far - you are able to grow a talent pool from which to recruit for future positions, as well as creating an advocate for your company.