How To Engage With Candidates Virtually During The COVID-19 Crisis

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Written by Ali Hackett

Ali is the Co-Founder and Director of Meet & Engage and has worked for many years as an independent consultant managing projects spanning employer brand, recruitment, employability and retention across a variety of sectors. Ali’s experiences as an in-house recruitment leader, covering both volume and experienced hires, has given her a depth of understanding around the challenges that organizations face and a passion for putting candidate experience firmly on the agenda. She is excited about the possibilities that technology can offer businesses who want to create engaging candidate experiences and increase advocacy. Ali, and her team, work with Meet & Engage clients to share insights, ideas and to ensure maximum return on investment.

In the battle to attract and retain top talent, the need for a strong employer brand and a compelling end-to-end candidate experience has never been more important.

In our current climate, however, uncertainty abounds.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the entire talent acquisition space has been thrown into a state of flux. While some companies have made difficult short-term decisions to downsize in a bid to reduce costs, for many other employers the recruitment drive must push on.

With travel bans ubiquitous and social distancing the new norm, how can organizations deliver a personalized, compelling and authentic candidate experience while operating remotely?

To answer this question, a number of strong, practical steps must be taken in order to find new ways to engage with candidates. In the face of challenge, however, comes opportunity.

While in-person meetings may be out of the question for months to come, that doesn’t mean you can’t deliver an effective recruitment strategy. In fact, there are a number of highly effective strategies that you can implement today to capitalize on the situation and future-proof your organization.

1. Assess your existing capabilities

First, it’s extremely important to take a step back and assess your existing digital talent acquisition capabilities. Some organizations will be more advanced than others, but now is the perfect time to be honest about your shortcomings and identify gaps in your digital candidate experience.

Complexity and communication are key issues to address. In fact, 60% of jobseekers have quit an application in the middle due to its length or complexity. What’s more, only 47% of jobseekers believe employers do a good job of communicating throughout the hiring process.

Remember, this was before the COVID-19 crisis, so employers must find innovative ways to deliver on and meet these expectations. By taking an objective look at your ability to source, interview and hire talent digitally, you will be able to quickly pinpoint the moments of weakness that need fixing.

2. Harness live chat technology to bring your employer brand to life

As new technology enters the scene, employers are now equipped with alternate methods for engaging candidates virtually. This means that social distancing restrictions don’t have to spell the end of authentic candidate engagement. With live chat technology, you can create real-time virtual events for candidates – run by your own employees.

If you’re thinking of investing in this software, then look for live chat technology that is fully customizable. This will allow you to bring your employer brand to life in a manner that feels truly authentic to your own unique identity.

Whether that means sharing blog posts, video content or information about roles and responsibilities, leveraging live chat rooms can be a fantastic way to double down on your employer brand values and help candidates feel connected, engaged and welcome.

Want more on this topic?

Join our webinar “From Crisis To Confidence: How To Embrace Adversity & Future-Proof Your Organization” on the 11th June at 12pm EST / 5pm BST

3. Don’t forget the importance of personalized communications

For many employers, the thought of segmenting audiences and personalizing the candidate journey remotely may seem challenging. However, it doesn’t need to be this way. Start by creating multiple candidate personas. Once you have an idea of the key audiences you need to engage, you can tailor virtual candidate experiences to suit individual personalities.

This approach works well for diverse communities, too. When you can show candidates that you recognize and understand their concerns, questions and values, you can deliver messaging that is much more tailored to their needs.

Whether it’s a Zoom call, email exchange or live chat messaging platform, now is an extremely important time to deliver personalized communications.

4. Leverage employee-generated content

If you want to resonate with candidates virtually, then it’s vital that you tap into your organization’s greatest strength: its people.

Consider this: candidates are 3x more likely to trust a company’s employees than the company to provide credible information on what it’s like to work there.

To leverage this idea, ask your hiring managers to run a live stream event for candidates, or set up an initiative where employees can share their own stories via video content and written blogs. Remember, authenticity is so important in building trust and affinity with talent – especially when looking to connect with people virtually.

In fact, 83% of candidates say the authenticity of company content would impact their level of trust in that organization, so spend time investing in your people. When you turn these stories into employer brand content, you can use the power of technology and social media to deliver humanized experiences – even if the candidate and employee never actually meet face-to-face.

5. Research, analyze and learn

Transitioning to a virtual recruitment strategy can feel like a daunting task and will likely throw up its obstacles and challenges.

To make sure you optimize your approach, it’s vital that you research, analyse and learn what’s working and what isn’t. If you opt to use a live chat technology, for example, you can set up polls to find out which topics candidates would most like to hear about from current employees.

What’s more, certain platforms will even allow you to track which type of content generates the most engagement. These unique insights will help inform and shape future strategy and decisions, so you can discover pain points, craft compelling solutions and deliver content that will have the strongest impact.

As the COVID-19 crisis and its ramifications continues to unfold across the globe, many organizations have been forced to re-think how they attract talent. But remember, while digital technology may not be a direct replacement for face-to-face meetings, it can have an incredibly profound impact on humanizing your candidate experience.

With this in mind, investing in your virtual recruitment capabilities is not just a smart decision in the short-term. It will actually help you resonate with a new generation of talent and enhance your candidate experience in the long-term, too.

Want more on this topic?

Join our webinar “From Crisis To Confidence: How To Embrace Adversity & Future-Proof Your Organization” on the 11th June at 12pm EST / 5pm BST

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