The Hiring Process as an Engagement Tool
As discussed previously, employee engagement is extremely important to organizations of all sizes. Strategic, deliberate actions throughout the hiring process can plant the seeds for active engagement and yield valuable results.
Opportunities for Engagement in the Application Process
From a job seeker standpoint, the process of applying for jobs can be arduous and quite discouraging, particularly when submitting online applications. The experience has been compared to “dropping your resume into a black hole.” While there may be legitimate reasons why some applicants never hear back on their applications, companies have an opportunity to generate goodwill and healthy engagement right from the start.
A well-written, sincere automatic e-mail response can serve many functions in addition to simply acknowledging receipt of the application. Keep in mind that applicants often invest an hour or more in completing an online form, customizing their resumes and letters of introduction, and readying attachments. Thank them for their effort and for their interest in your organization. Manage their expectations by indicating a date by which the hiring decision will be made.
Keeping Candidates Engaged During the Interview Process
Once interviews begin, keep the most promising candidates engaged through regular contact (for example, status e-mails sent every one to two weeks). They will know whether they are still under consideration for your position, and you will gain updated information regarding their continued availability.
Engaging (and Re-Engaging) the Runner-Up Candidate
Many companies overlook the opportunity represented by the runner-up candidate. Should something unforeseen occur—for instance, if the candidate of choice ends up declining the job offer, or if the candidate leaves within the first 90 days of employment—a seemingly “closed” position can suddenly open up once more. In situations like these, re-engagement of the runner-up candidate is the most expedient way to fill the position with a qualified, vetted employee. And re-engagement is most effective when active engagement has occurred throughout the hiring cycle, as the following example illustrates.
Recently a Silicon Valley company narrowed the choices for a senior management position down to two candidates. Both were excellent matches for the position; however, one candidate happened to have an MBA. The advanced degree was not a requirement for the position, nor was it even listed as a preference in the original job posting. It was simply something extra that the candidate brought to the table.
In letting the runner-up candidate know that she had not been selected for the position, the company was transparent as to the reason they preferred another candidate. The runner-up appreciated being treated with dignity and respect, and even though she was not ultimately hired, the interview process was a positive one for her. Should the first candidate not work out for any reason, she would welcome a job offer in the future.
As unemployment in the San Francisco Bay Area continues to fall, companies will need to be more competitive to attract the best applicants. Keeping candidates engaged throughout the application and interview process will give savvy organizations an advantage over their peers.