How to Communicate With Candidates During Challenging Times

It’s a very unusual time for staffing professionals. We’re all hopeful that the recovery is on its way and that hiring will pick back up in the coming months. However, US unemployment rates are at a record high and a lot of businesses are struggling.

This means that there are more people actively looking for new jobs than ever before. Indeed, our data shows that job searches on our site rose by 7.8% in May. The war for talent was rife up until this point, however, the market is starting to shift; and candidates no longer hold the power.

But this doesn’t mean you should let all the hard work you put into targeting passive candidates and improving your candidate engagement levels go to waste. In fact, how you communicate with candidate during these challenging times is something that will be remembered.

In this article, we explain how you should be engaging with active job seekers, to ensure you, and the company you’re hiring for, always come across well.

In your job adverts. We strongly advise acknowledging the current situation in your job adverts; especially if it’s impacting your hiring efforts in some way. For example, it might be that the role will be home-based initially. Going to an office might be something professionals worry about right now, so clarifying how the onboarding process will work virtually is important.

Alternatively, you may want to make it clear how the interview process will work. Video interviews are probably your best friend right now, so specify that these will take place in the absence of face-to-face ones. It’s also a good idea to add in keywords such as ‘still hiring’ – especially when promoting your adverts on social media.

Alongside this, do clarify if there will be any delays to the hiring process because of COVID-19. Candidates expect to hear back from employers pretty imminently; especially if they’re out of a job and desperately need a new one. Try to give a rough idea of the timeline as this can help to put them at ease.

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Acknowledging applications. One of the biggest frustrations that candidates have is not hearing back on their applications. We appreciate that it’s not always feasible to get back to everyone; especially when it comes to providing constructive feedback.

However, there are plenty of ways to send automated responses to acknowledge that you’ve received an application — whether that’s through a job board or an Applicant Tracking System.

Within this response, you may again want to reiterate that there will be delays to the hiring process; or that you’re receiving a higher volume of applications than normal. This will help to set expectations and shows that you care about your candidates.

When successful applicants do progress to the interview stage, make sure you stay in contact and give them as much information as they need. It can be a little strange only meeting prospective employers virtually, so that extra bit of communication can make a real difference.

Breaking the news — good or bad. It’s important to be as sensitive as possible when letting candidates know if they’ve been successful or not; specifically, after attending an interview. Whether it’s good or bad news, you should always try to deliver the feedback over the phone as it’s a lot more personal.

Again, if it is taking a while for the manager to make a decision, make sure you keep interviewees up to date on this. It’s perfectly acceptable for hiring processes to take longer than usual at the moment; but it’s important to communicate this with candidates.

Hiring freeze. If you aren’t actually hiring right now, you may want to think about how you communicate this with candidates and also how you use this time to your advantage. For example, you may want to start building up a talent pool for the future; and if this is the case, it’s a great opportunity to speak to candidates about the roles they’re interested in.

Got a database of candidates to contact? Great! Why not send them a holding email to let them know that your hiring is on pause. You could point them in the direction of helpful resources to look at in the meantime, such as tips on perfecting their résumé and cover letter.

Perfect your communication during challenging times. Unfortunately, we don’t know when the light at the end of the tunnel will appear. And the pandemic is going to have a long-lasting impact on the U.S. economy. But how you act now will be remembered in the future. Take the time to communicate well with candidates and you’ll ensure you always have a steady pipeline of talent.

MORE: Keeping track of new employees while WFH

Lee Biggins

Lee Biggins
Lee Biggins is the founder and CEO of Resume-Library.

Lee Biggins

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