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How to Boost Candidate Engagement in 2023


In the wake of the “Great Resignation,” there are more jobs open now than virtually ever before.

According to the most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey  (JOLTS), there were a record-breaking 11 million jobs available in the US on the last business day of October 2021.

What’s more, 73% of candidates are passive job seekers. To turn those passive candidates into active job seekers that want to fill your company’s open positions, you’ve got to focus on one thing:

Candidate engagement.

Here at iprospectcheck, we work closely with HR managers across many different industries to provide fast, accurate, affordable, and FCRA-compliant pre-employment background checks.

We know what helps keep candidates engaged during the recruitment process.

In this blog, we’ll share our top tips to boost candidate engagement and provide a great candidate experience.

Let’s dive in.

What is Candidate Engagement?

Candidate engagement refers to the process of staying in touch with your applicant pool via digital or in-person communications.

As a rule, there are three facets of candidate engagement:

  • People. Who is driving the candidate engagement process, and who is the audience?
  • Process. How a company chooses to engage with candidates.
  • Technology. The tools a company uses to conduct, execute, and measure candidate engagement.

From a staffing perspective, the goal of candidate engagement is usually email opens, job views or applications, or text replies.

Why is it Important to Keep Candidates Engaged?

Candidate engagement has always been an important factor in the hiring process. In the wake of the “Great Resignation,” however, it’s even more critical.

Thanks to the economic tumult caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a wave of Americans have quit their jobs.

In fact, a record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September of 2021 alone. Today, any company that wants to attract skilled workers must focus on candidate engagement.

Here’s why:

The way you treat candidates during the interviewing and recruitment process ultimately impacts how they see your company in the future.

It also impacts public perception of your company and, eventually, becomes your company’s culture.

In a world where workers are relinquishing their jobs in droves, candidates need to know that a potential employer cares about and is interested in them.

How do I Measure Candidate Engagement?

There are several ways to measure candidate engagement.

Some of the most common include the following:

Email engagement

While social media has become an important recruiting tool, email is still the backbone of many recruiting programs.

And for good reason:

While the organic reach of a post on Facebook can bottom out at 6%, emails see an average open rate of 20%.

Many recruiters use email engagement to measure candidate engagement. Open rate is the most tracked metric, followed by click-through rate, delivery rate, unsubscribe rates, and bounce rates.

An applicant tracking system (ATS)

One of the most common ways to measure candidate engagement today is with an Applicant Tracking System, or ATS.

An ATS allows recruiters to organize candidates in an easy-to-use system and build profiles for each potential hire.

In addition to keeping an applicant’s education, employment history, skills, and certification details accessible, a good ATS will help you track the following:

  • Candidate engagement. An ATS can track what percentage of your candidates have been engaged in the last 1-3 months, 6 months, year, or longer. This data provides actionable information for your company. It underlines what you’re doing well with candidate engagement, and where you could improve.
  • Source quality. The ATS will track how many candidates you add monthly, what percentage of those you’ve contacted or interviewed, and the source each candidate came from. As you start collecting data, you can see how productive each candidate source (social media, referrals, etc.) has been, and which you should prioritize in the future.

Social media engagement

In today’s world, social media is a critical platform for engaging with candidates. Companies use social media to build their candidate audience and encourage new candidates to reach out.

LinkedIn is generally the most productive social media tool for businesses (as it sends 4x more people to your company’s homepage than Twitter or Facebook).

It also offers excellent tracking tools for candidate engagement metrics like post engagement, impressions, and reach.

10 Relevant Ways to Boost Candidate Engagement in 2023

Improve your candidate engagement in the coming year with these simple, actionable tips:

1. Respond to new applications as quickly as possible

Did you know that 52% of candidates don’t receive any communication from a company in the 2-3 months after applying?

That lack of quick response is a serious problem, and it will cost you applicants. With that in mind, prioritize responding to new applications.

Set up automation software to send out auto-replies to applicants so they know where they stand in your system.

Getting this “first touch” in as quickly as possible is one simple way to improve candidate engagement.

2. Ask candidates how they want to communicate

Part of providing an excellent candidate experience is meeting candidates where they are. Ask candidates about their preferred communication formats.

For example, a candidate may have ample experience with Zoom, but be a stranger to Google Meet.

While there can be constraints surrounding communication (you may have to use corporate tools to adhere to your company’s privacy policy, for example), being as flexible as possible with your communication formats will help improve candidate engagement.

3. Send out digital calendar invites

Use calendar invites to make it as easy as possible for candidates to attend a scheduled meeting.

Calendar invites include all the required details about a meeting (including date, time, and virtual or in-person meeting place), and send out automated notifications before the scheduled meeting time.

4. Follow up with candidates who do not reply

If you reach out to a candidate and don’t hear anything back, don’t give up.

Instead, follow up.

There are many reasons a candidate may “ghost” an employer including vacation, illness, and family obligations.

Ultimately, it’s better to invest in a few follow-up communications than regret losing an excellent candidate.

5. Leverage smart software

Applying for a job can be clunky, frustrating, and stressful for candidates. One way to boost candidate engagement, then, is to use smart software to make the process as simple and empowering as possible.

Many modern ATS platforms simplify hiring by giving more power to the candidate.

Some, for example, allow candidates to check on their application status, and upload documents on their own. When you find an ATS that works for your company, you can use it to provide a more streamlined, more enjoyable candidate experience.

Here at iprospectcheck, we do something similar. We use SwiftHire Mobile to allow applicants to initiate their own background screening processes.

A convenient screening tool, SwiftHire makes it possible for applicants to submit their own information online and get real-time updates about the process.

It’s a faster, more convenient, more accurate way to hire.

6. Be upfront about your process

To keep a candidate engaged throughout the hiring process, tell them what to expect from the get-go.

For example, a company like Edward Jones takes about 9 weeks to hire a new employee – from first contact to sign-on. Candidates know this, though, so they don’t get discouraged during the process.

To keep candidates engaged, be sure to give them the following information:

  • What your recruitment steps are, and how many of them there are.
  • How much time the process takes to complete.
  • What stage of the recruitment process they’re in.
  • What, if anything, they need to do to complete the process.
  • What to expect from the interview process (and how to prepare).
  • Who will attend the interview?
  • Whether there will be a background check, and what to expect from the process.
  • The candidate’s rights as they pertain to a background check.

The more transparent you can make your hiring process, the more likely it is that candidates will stay engaged throughout.

7. Share company policies upfront

Candidates often apply for jobs without knowing much about the company offering the position.

Fortunately, this is an opportunity for you as an employer. When you educate a candidate about your company early on, they may feel more committed to and engaged with the company.

We recommend sharing a short description about your company’s products, offerings, and mission, as well as information about your company’s culture, policies about remote work and leave policies, and anything else that’s relevant to your brand.

8. Use social media

A massive 79% of job seekers use social media during their job search, so you’ll want to make sure to leverage the platforms. In addition to posting your job openings on social media, you’ll also want to share posts that help candidates learn more about your company’s culture, current employees, and mission.

Most companies do this by creating a separate employer’s social account, which is meant to communicate and engage candidates, and offer behind-the-scenes glimpses into company culture.

9. Make background checks as simple as possible

The pre-employment background check is a critical part of any safe, responsible hiring process.

Done wrong, though, it can feel clunky, invasive, and alienating for candidates.

It’s essential to simplify your background checks as much as possible. Instead of trying to manage the checks on your own, outsource them to a skilled third-party like iprospectcheck.

We provide accurate, comprehensive checks in a fraction of the time it would take you to do them on your own. Plus, we integrate easily with a long list of hiring systems and ATS platforms, which makes your entire hiring process even more seamless.

10. Ask for feedback

Finally, ask for feedback from candidates you’ve hired. How did they feel about the application process? How engaged did they feel? What did your company get right? What could you have done better?

When you ask for feedback and then integrate it into your hiring process, it helps improve your candidate engagement in the future.

Keep Candidates Engaged with iprospectcheck’s Streamlined Background Checks

Improving your candidate engagement really boils down to one golden rule:

Keep it fast, simple, transparent, and user-friendly.

When you provide a transparent, simple application and hiring process for candidates, they’re more likely to remain engaged throughout.

Here at iprospectcheck, we help teams like yours do just that. Our extensive access to reliable databases allows us to complete employment background checks in minutes, while also complying with all relevant laws and guidelines. The result is comprehensive, FCRA-compliant, accurate background checks you can trust.

To learn about the employment background check services we offer, contact iprospectcheck today

Know Before You Hire

About the Author
Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers is a highly accomplished business executive with over 30 years of experience providing strategic vision and leadership to companies ranging from the fortune 500 to iprospectcheck, a company which he co-founded over a decade ago. Matthew is a valued consultant who is dedicated to helping companies create and implement efficient, cost effective and compliant employment screening programs. Matt has been a member of the Professional Background Screeners Association since 2009 . When not focused on iprospectcheck, he can be found spending time with his family, fly fishing, or occasionally running the wild rivers of the American west. A lifetime member of American Whitewater, Matt is passionate about protecting and restoring America’s whitewater rivers.