How to Connect with Candidates in a Saturated Job Market

Recruiters are facing a tough market right now. More applicants than openings. Pressure to fill roles fast.

It's tempting to blast generic job posts then ghost most applicants. But this disengagement hurts your employer brand long-term.

Candidates remember poor engagement. And those left hanging make mental notes to avoid your agency in future.

To break this cycle, agency recruiters must prioritise engaging meaningfully with every applicant, even when the market is saturated. When done effectively, you build rapport, identify top talent, and create brand advocates even among those you don't hire.

You lose talent to competitors who engage better. Here are our tips to master candidate engagement despite the crunch:

Make Meaningful First Contact

Your opening outreach often determines whether passive candidates engage or ignore you, so it’s crucial to avoid impersonal greetings like "Dear Applicant."

Instead, reference something specific that shows you reviewed their background and see them as an individual. For example:

  • "Hi Sarah, I noticed you worked at [company]. I'd love to hear what drew you to them and what you accomplished there."
  • "Maria, your background at [company] caught my eye. I know they've gone through leadership changes lately – it would be great to discuss your time there."

Making first contact thoughtful and personal shows genuine interest in candidates as people, not just CVs. It gets their attention instantly and kickstarts productive dialogue, whatever their background.

Highlight Any Mutual Connections

Before contacting applicants, LinkedIn offers an easy way to research whether you have any shared connections. Then, you can mention this in your outreach which can help in several ways:

  • To build rapport, for example: "I see we're both connected to Jane Smith. I've partnered with Jane for years so it's great to meet you!"
  • To drive referrals, for example: "Looks like we both know Ella at your previous company. She had great things to say about your work there."

Pointing out shared connections makes candidates feel you're already invested in them before even meeting, and facilitates a relationship-based approach from the initial outreach through the hiring process.

So take a minute to search for mutual connections before engaging applicants. That small extra effort often yields big returns in building rapport and credibility.

Ask Smart, Strategic Questions

Avoid basic questions like "How are you?" that don't further the conversation. Instead, prepare thoughtful tailored questions which can provide invaluable insights while also making candidates feel heard.

  • "What appealed to you about this role?" Gauges genuine interest.
  • "What projects are you most proud of?" Surfaces accomplishments beyond their CV.
  • "What questions do you have about the role?" Gives insights into their priorities and interests.

Strategic questions help you identify top talent and assess culture fit. And they allow candidates to showcase their skills early on, and encourage a two-way dialogue rather than just a Q&A session. 

Share Inside Perspectives 

Give candidates insights beyond the job posting to get them invested in the role and company. You can do this by:

  • Providing an overview of the team structure and day-to-day work to help set expectations.
  • Discussing advancement trajectories and examples to show a clear path forward.
  • Sharing examples of successful hires in similar roles to add credibility to claims that this is a great move for their career.
  • Outlining how the company navigated recent challenges, like the pandemic, which can showcase their resilience.

Informed candidates ask better questions and have more meaningful interview discussions. When they understand the role and company realities, they get more enthusiastic about real opportunities rather than imagined ones. 

Providing insider perspectives shows you want candidates to make decisions based on an accurate preview rather than just selling them generically. The more context they have, the more engaged and committed they become.

Set Realistic Expectations

Present the opportunity in an appealing yet honest light. Avoid overpromising specifics like compensation, advancement timeline, or responsibilities that may not materialise.

Instead, have candid conversations about concrete positives like training programs, work-life balance, leadership quality, culture, and growth potential. Explain typical career trajectories and timelines. Be transparent about challenges they may face in the role and provide a realistic preview so candidates can determine fit based on accurate expectations vs generic sales patter.

Candidates become frustrated and disengaged if the reality doesn't match the original pitch. To build trust, it pays to sell the role realistically rather than inflating its positives.

Communicate Proactively

Be diligent and timely in all communication, whenever possible. Lagging response times signal disrespect for your applicants’ time and causes even passionate candidates to lose interest.

Technology like auto-responders can help keep candidates updated when you’re busy juggling many applications. While not a replacement for personal outreach, they ensure applicants don't feel completely forgotten.

Instead of waiting to be chased, you can proactively provide application process updates. Clearly set expectations on timelines and next steps, then follow through. If delays arise, apologise and explain reasons for the hold up.

Quick responses and proactive updates make candidates feel prioritised, not forgotten. Ongoing communication keeps momentum high and prevents drop off from process frustration.

Close Communication Loops

Always close the loop after interviews. Provide brief but constructive feedback that applicants can learn and improve from. The goal is to provide value and leave candidates with a positive impression, for example:

  • "I really enjoyed our discussion yesterday and hearing about your work at [company]. Your strategic approach to project management really stood out as a strong fit for this role. We have a few more interviews but will be finalising decisions next week. I'll keep you posted on the next steps."
  • "Thank you again for taking the time to interview for the Project Manager role. We were really impressed by your analytical abilities but ultimately decided to go with an applicant more closely aligned with the needs of this role. Please keep us in mind for the future – your technical skills could be a great fit down the road. Let me know if I can ever be a reference for you."

Closing communication loops respectfully shows that candidates' time and priorities matter to you, regardless of outcome. It reinforces a positive experience and develops your reputation as an agency that actually cares about your candidates.

Keep Candidate Experience Top of Mind

In competitive hiring markets, the best candidates have options. Your candidate experience will determine whether top talent chooses to work with you, or whether they go elsewhere. 

And as your talent pool grows, you need the tools to convert candidates and nurture your pipeline. idibu offers:

  • Centralised candidate management with links to social media for fast filtering
  • Advanced auto-responders to keep candidates updated so you don’t have to
  • Standardised profiles for frictionless viewing
  • Easy communication tools to enhance candidate experience
  • Deep insights into candidates’ interests and motivations
  • Review applications anywhere with our mobile app
  • Auto-responder workflows to keep applicants looped in throughout the process

With idibu, you can connect to talent like never before, convert more candidates, and build an engaged pipeline. 

Get the tools you need to engage talent in today's job market. Contact our team today to learn more.

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