Back to blog

Candidate Communications Guide

Posted by
Diana Mitchell
on
December 13, 2022

It’s never been more important for recruiters to access a candidate communications guide with strategic insight and tactical suggestions for improving candidate communications. Research shows that candidate communications rank near the top of importance for talent today. Organizations that prioritize communications, then, are poised to best maximize their strategic talent investments.

What is candidate communication?

To understand how best to leverage candidate communications as part of your recruiting and talent engagement strategies, it’s important to understand the actual definition of candidate communication.

Quite literally, candidate communication is any touchpoint or interaction between your brand and talent. This can happen via chatbot, text, email, phone call, LinkedIn message, social media DM, or even in social media comments. In fact, let’s take a closer look at those candidate communication channels.

Candidate communication channels

There are no hard and fast rules as far as candidate communication channels. Your candidate communication channels are wherever candidates reach out to you (or wherever your recruiters are reaching out to talent).

But while there aren’t any rules necessarily, there are certain places and platforms where candidates prefer to communicate with recruiters and/or engage with employers, including:

Chatbot

Chatbots offer a tremendous way to automate candidate communication without eroding candidate experiences. It’s important to note, though, that the quality of your chatbot technology and “conversations” is essential.

Candidates who engage with your brand via chatbot are often toward the bottom of the funnel – they’re visiting your website and are interested in jobs or in learning what it’s like to work for you (or in the case of staffing firms, with you and your clients).

Chatbots can be an excellent component of your candidate engagement strategy by providing access to your recruiters (in essence) 24/7/365. Talent today isn’t always looking for answers or jobs during the 9 to 5. Rather, they’re checking after the kids go to bed, after their overnight shift, or on the weekends. Chatbots are always “on,” ready to answer questions, and help convert “visitors” into “candidates” in your database.

Text

Americans check their phones around 350 times per day, on average. Three hundred fifty times a DAY! Your mouth may be hanging open, but you’re also nodding your head right now because, while that number is astounding, it’s also extremely realistic.

We live on our phones. It’s the reality of modern society. And the fastest, oftentimes the easiest way to reach people is via text. Think about it - aside from work, when was the last time you sat down to make an actual phone call?

But chances are you sent out at least a dozen texts yesterday. It only makes sense that recruiters would reach out to candidates via text with important information, and that candidates would text recruiters when they have questions or need help/information.

Email

While the other tools in this list, email is still an important part of any candidate communication strategy. There are over 4 billion email users globally. And while we are doing our best to keep our inboxes from clutter and spam, we are still using email (and expect to receive important business communications via email).

While we can do a lot via text, especially for recruiters, some things are just a better fit for emails (or phone calls). This includes longer, more detailed messages. Texts can also be a great way to check in quickly and let someone know you sent more details in an email - just be careful not to automatically send a text and an email all the time. Save it for important/time-sensitive messages only. Otherwise, you run the risk of candidates tuning out your communications across channels.

Phone

Yes, some people still actually use phones to make calls. Imagine that! While it can be increasingly challenging to sync up with someone on the phone due to busy schedules and a preference for other communication methods, phone calls are still an important part of many hiring processes, and are certainly still a viable option for candidate communication.

Phone calls are especially helpful for longer, more detailed conversations that aren’t a good fit for text, or where more nuanced questions/follow-up questions are expected.

LinkedIn Message

The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on LinkedIn usage, with the platform continuing to cite “record levels of engagement” since we all had to hunker down back in spring 2020. Nearly three years later, LinkedIn continues to grow, which means it’s becoming easier to reach talent on the platform. Talent expects to hear from recruiters there, and with well-crafted messaging, it can be a great place to stand out and reach passive or particularly-exceptional professionals.

Other Social Media DMs

Depending on the specialty and location, you may also use other social media platforms to communicate with candidates; however, be careful not to bombard candidates on sites where they very clearly aren’t expecting (or desiring) recruiter outreach.

Conversely, candidates may also send your company DMs on other social platforms. Recruiting and marketing teams should work closely together to ensure that someone is regularly monitoring boxes and responding to talent outreach via social DMs.

Social Media Comments

Some professionals may ask questions about jobs, culture, etcetera by posting comments on your company’s social media posts. Monitoring for these types of comments (and promptly responding) is critical for both the individuals who are commenting, and for your overall employer brand. Unresponsiveness on the part of your company can send the wrong message to discerning talent who will treat them well and meet their goals and needs as an employer.  

Candidate communication and your candidate experience

Although I’ve touched upon these themes a bit throughout, it’s important to specifically illuminate how critical candidate communication is to your overall candidate experience. Eighty percent of job seekers currently cited “faster response time from recruiters” as the top way for recruiters to improve candidate experience, and slow response time is the top reason candidates quit applying for a job.

Faster responses and more clear communication are candidate experience fundamentals, yet many employers still struggle to find a candidate communication solution to their recruiting challenges. As we found in our recent research study with Talent Board (cited in the graphic above), 1 in 3 talent acquisition leaders feel their organizations aren’t communicating effectively with candidates.

Candidate communication automation can play a major role here. No employer wants to deliver a poor candidate experience. In many cases, recruiters are simply overworked and unable to communicate with candidates at the speed and frequency desired. Automation can play a pivotal role in keeping your candidates engaged and informed while maximizing recruiter productivity. And with the right talent engagement partner (yes, like Sense), everything integrates with your ATS, allowing your recruiters to seamlessly move within automations and 1:1 messaging to deliver game-changing, exceptional experiences for talent while also creating better experiences for your recruiters.

Candidate communication stats and trends

The aforementioned research study that we recently conducted with Talent Board illuminates the importance of candidate communication, and the most effective candidate communication tools getting results for recruiting teams today. Let’s take a closer look at some of the study insights and in particular, how chatbots offer a powerful way to automate candidate communication:

1 in 3 Talent Acquisition Leaders Feel Their Organizations Aren’t Communicating With Candidates Successfully

While I touched upon this earlier, it bears repeating. This insight isn’t coming from talent, but from inside organizations today. Your employees recognize that you’re underperforming when it comes to candidate communication, and they’re seeking better ways to communicate better, and with more candidates at scale.

There’s an 87% Drop in Companies Using Chatbots to Help Talent Onboard Versus During Sourcing

Candidate communication shouldn’t end once an offer has been extended. Talent acquisition leaders reported that nearly all of them failed to use their most powerful candidate communication tools after sourcing.


This is a massive missed opportunity, as research shows that companies are reporting an 80% candidate dropoff rate during the application process. There are any number of opportunities for candidates to drop off (and likely head to your competition). And as we’ll see from some of the statistics coming up, more companies are using chatbots; they are simply missing every opportunity to leverage their technology investment to create better experiences and ultimately, to deliver stronger ROI.

Companies With the Highest-Rated Candidate Experiences Use Chatbots 30% More Than The Average Company

One of the most powerful advantages of today’s most sophisticated talent engagement platforms and tools is the ability to measure ROI. And organizations that are most effectively leveraging chatbots in their candidate communication strategy are seeing significant improvements in their candidate ratings and NPS scores.

51% of Talent Acquisition Leaders Say Chatbots Have Increased Candidate Responsiveness

While feedback from candidates is critical, the direct impact on day-to-day for talent acquisition teams is especially important to consider. And chatbots as part of your candidate communication strategy deliver there as well. Recruiters can improve their own speed of communication; however, delays in hearing back from candidates can wreak havoc on your talent acquisition teams.

Not only do chatbots succeed at creating better experiences for candidates, their ease of use means that candidates actually respond more quickly as well, helping recruiters do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.

68% of Talent Acquisition Leaders Saw Improved Candidate Engagement Scores After Deploying Chatbots

Since the highest-rated organizations for candidate experience are using chatbots, it’s no surprise that over ⅔ of talent acquisition teams that deployed chatbots have seen improved candidate engagement scores.

Email is Still the Preferred Method of Communication for Candidates and Recruiters

That’s right, 61% of recruiters and 57% of candidates still prefer to communicate via email, although the number isn’t staggering, it shows that email still plays an important role in a successful candidate communication strategy.

Data Shows (Really!) That Candidates Still Like Communicating with Recruiters via Phone

Phone is still #2 – yes, phone calls! – with 53% of recruiting teams and 50% of candidates preferring phone communication.

Building a better candidate communication strategy

While understanding what candidate communication is and how talent acquisition teams are leveraging chatbots and other technologies to find success is important, developing a strong candidate communication strategy is essential.

Whether you’re developing a candidate communication strategy now or are looking to refine and improve the performance of your strategy, consider the following to maximize results:

Automated candidate communications

I’ve touched upon this throughout this guide, but finding ways to successfully automate candidate communication is a game-changer for talent acquisition teams today. Teams are tasked in today’s climate with doing more with less, and many were already struggling to successfully meet candidate communication expectations.

Automation, when deployed with a trusted partner and when done strategically, can and should actually create more, better, personal, and human interactions between recruiters and candidates. Candidate communications can be automated via chatbot, email, text, WhatsApp….today’s technology is powerful, and creates seamless experiences for both talent and recruiters across multiple platforms.

Make your candidate communication as personal as possible

A successful strategy must address the need for candidates to feel seen, heard, and valued as human beings. In other words, more than their resumes!

There are several ways to make your candidate communication more personal, including how you communicate. A recent study showed that candidates tend to prefer messages over phone calls not necessarily because they’re more convenient, but because they’re personal. Otherwise, speaking personally to talent, referencing personal details, etcetera, can all go a long way toward making talent feel valued.

Choosing the right candidate communication tools

Today’s talent acquisition leaders are effectively leveraging technology to deliver exceptional candidate communication and experiences at scale. And as leaner teams face increased scrutiny and challenges maintaining and surpassing expectations in today’s changing economy, the need for strong tools and technology becomes increasingly apparent.

Although there are many point solutions available that can help talent acquisition teams implement their candidate communication strategies, point solutions offer their own challenges. These challenges become especially apparent when you consider the point of tools is to save time and money. Trying to piece together individual point solutions; however, can end up costing talent acquisition teams considerable time, not to mention increased costs.

The time needed to learn more platforms, sign in repeatedly, interact with and make requests to multiple customer service teams, and more can add up quickly. In our conversations with customers, we frequently hear that fatigue over dealing with multiple vendors can often lead to poor adoption of candidate communication tools among talent acquisition teams.

Today’s talent engagement platforms (including Sense) not only consolidate costly one-off point solutions, but work seamlessly together to deliver better candidate and recruiter experiences. With Sense, for example, every tool within our platform is working together, and in most instances, is writing directly into candidate records within your ATS. So even technology that isn’t a part of Sense can be fully integrated, increasing the ROI on your total recruitment technology investment.

Use best-in-class candidate communication templates

Automation and talent engagement platforms like Sense make it easy for talent acquisition teams to implement cohesive candidate communication strategies. And powerful templates make it easy to automate repeatable messages and further maximize the time of your recruiters.

We are currently working on a range of candidate communication templates, including email templates, that recruiters can utilize at critical touch points within their candidate journeys. This guide will be updated soon to include links to those templates for easy access.

Getting started with Sense for candidate communication

Talking about candidate communication strategies and tools is one thing, but actually seeing how the right talent engagement platform can put your strategic plan into action is a powerful step toward maximizing the efficiency and productivity of your talent acquisition team. To learn more about Sense and see how Sense technology can create game-changing results for your talent acquisition team, schedule a demo with our team today.

Read more