With many companies having to pause their current hiring plans due to the impact of COVID-19 on almost every aspect of our work and personal lives, we thought it would be timely to pass along some key thoughts on keeping your current candidates and potential future hires informed and engaged.
This is a difficult time for both hiring managers and candidates. For the hiring manager, the interview process may have been stalled after valuable time has been invested in identifying and vetting candidates. For candidates, the excitement about the possibility of finding their dream job has been put on hold. During this pause, it might be tempting to let time pass while you and the organization digest the impacts of these unprecedented times before reaching out to your candidates. However, this is exactly what NOT to do. Ascertaining your top candidates has been an investment of your time and resources. Preserving these relationships during this pause will be critical in helping your organization ‘hit the ground running’ once life gets back to normal again. Plus, from the candidate’s perspective, your open communication will reflect the values and culture of your organization ensuring their appreciation and continued interest.
The timing and frequency of your correspondence will make a difference. Plan and structure your communication so that you can commit to engaging on a routine (weekly) basis. This frequency ensures that your leading candidates feel connected to the process, even if it is not progressing yet. If it helps, leverage other members of the team to keep the connection with the candidate flowing. The goal is to engage, build the candidate’s trust, and be compassionate to their position in the process, all of which will help to reduce candidate loss.
What should your overall message be? Meaningful communication, a thoughtfully written note that includes updates specific to the candidate, will be appreciated. It’s that simple.
Here are a few easy ideas for touching base to help you get started
- Be sure to mention that the pause has nothing to do with the candidate. Let them know that they are important to you.
- Provide a timeline of when the hiring process might begin again. If you don’t have that information yet, it’s okay to tell them the truth. Let candidates know that once you receive an update, you will pass that along to them.
- Convey that your organization is focusing on meeting the needs of the current employees. It could mean that senior-level leadership is heavily involved in corporate restructuring, crisis management, or other internal happenings that take priority over hiring for a time.
- Provide updates when you get new information, but be careful that what you share is authorized for release to the general public.
- Include helpful links about your company so a candidate can continue learning about the organization. Links might be recent news, benefits, success stories, or an overview of products and services.
- Set expectations with statements such as ‘we are looking into this for you and should have an answer in two weeks.’ For anything outstanding, make sure you follow up when you say you will.
- Along the way, ask the candidate if they have any questions and follow up as soon as you can. Excellent communication is two-way.
When you fail to engage proactively, distance forms, and your finest candidates may choose to pursue other opportunities. Remember, your actions in times like this reflect the core values of the organization. ‘No news is good news’ does not apply in this situation. Even though a hiring pause is out of your control, with effective communication, you can do your part to keep the candidate in the loop, actively engaged, and ready to continue the process once hiring begins again.