Today’s top recruitment challenge is no longer identifying and sourcing talent. It’s engagement: Keeping candidates interested and active throughout the recruitment process. A new research report, 2016 Candidate Engagement, from Hudson RPO and HRO Today, uncovers how recruiters and hiring managers are grabbing candidates’ attention and keeping it.
The study examines the engagement techniques that hiring managers and recruiters report are the most effective and compares them to what candidates say are most effective. The results highlight where and when hiring managers and recruiters are spending their time and resources most effectively.
The research also makes a clear distinction between active and passive candidates. Active candidates, meaning those that are actively looking or casually looking a few times a week, comprise only 25 percent of the U.S. workforce, or 63 million workers. The lion’s share of the workforce are passive candidates, described as reaching out to their personal networks, open to talking to a recruiter, or completely satisfied/did not want to move. This group totals nearly 190 million workers in the U.S.
While the majority (57.5 percent) of recruiters felt that passive candidates are better in quality than active candidates, nearly 4 in 10 companies are not recruiting them (see Figure 1). Why? Because it’s harder to do. In fact, 82.6 percent of recruiter respondents felt they had to be more aggressive in their recruitment methods, with 40 percent indicating they had to be significantly more aggressive. Recruiters felt they had to contact a passive candidate themselves an average of three times before they could be considered active.
Passive and active candidates research information about job openings and companies through similar sources. A key difference between the two groups, however, is that passive candidates rely far more on their own networking sources—including personal contacts, LinkedIn network contacts, and direct referrals—as opposed to published sources (see Figure 2). Recruiting this group means accessing the networks they look to for information, which is more complex than traditional job boards or LinkedIn postings.
When being contacted by recruiters, candidates prefer email messages far above all else, with phone calls and LinkedIn messages coming in second and third. While LinkedIn is ranked as the sixth most effective way to reach passive candidates, it is the most common method used to contact them. LinkedIn is a very useful tool, but recruiters may be too reliant on it. Recruiters find phone calls to be the most effective means to attract passive candidates, followed by personalized email (see Figure 3). Only 21 percent of candidates prefer email to phone calls throughout the application process, so the phone is still an important part of recruiting. As for email, if it’s not personalized for the candidate, don’t bother with it.
Methods of engaging candidates are important, but the type of content used is even more critical. Effective types of content include job alerts—as long as they’re customized to the candidate—company news, industry news, and employee testimonials (see Figure 4). The research finds that employee testimonials should directly address work environment—the single most important element of the workplace to passive candidates, as well as one of the most important to active candidates.
Candidate experience has become an important element to today’s hiring process. The research finds that nearly three-quarters (72.5 percent) of respondents indicate that candidate experience is vital to optimizing engagement. In fact, the application and interview process was rated as important by 85.7 percent of candidate respondents.
Both active and passive candidates care about ongoing communication about their applications (see Figure 5).But passive candidates said “understanding the details of the position requirements” was most important to them.On the opposite hand, an unresponsive recruiter was the most disliked aspect of the hiring process.
The vast majority (91.7 percent) of recruiter respondents indicated that they had a talent pool, with two-thirds of them considering that pool “very important.” Within talent pools are passive candidates, and having a group of potential candidates can help reduce the cost of recruitment, reduce the time to hire, and identify quality candidates for the future.
The study shows that recruiters highly value passive candidates and are willing to work harder to get them. Working harder means being more aggressive, personalizing email communications, and relying less on conventional mass marketing communications such as the company website or LinkedIn. Networking and nurturing a talent pool are also important elements. The candidate experience has particular importance to passive candidates, and while recruiters know that, many are failing in the most fundamental way with candidates—they aren’t keeping them updated far too often.
The full 2016 Candidate Engagement report provides much more detail in all these areas, including demographic breakdowns by age and gender and additional implications for successful recruiters. This can be found at www.hrotoday.com, under research and best practices.