In this post-Covid talent-short market, it’s more important than ever to keep candidates engaged between their acceptance of your offer and their actual start date. Often, candidates have many job offers on the table, and you want to ensure your organisation stays on the top of the pile.
As such, this article provides insight into how you can reduce candidate drop-off and gives some tips on how to keep your new hire engaged before they start.
How to manage candidates between offer acceptance and start date
Candidates will be considering other options in addition to yours. Having a strong employer brand, minimising the wait time and employing an onboarding process help you to stand out, eliminate doubt and make candidates feel like your organisation is the right choice.
Accept That Candidates Will Be Considering Other Options
When a candidate applies for a position at your company, it’s usually as part of a larger job hunt, and they might be speaking with other organisations about other roles. Understandably, many candidates keep their choices open until they receive a firm offer.
Often, you do an excellent job of establishing rapport with the candidate, guiding them through the interview process, and giving an offer, but the relationship can effectively be put on pause through a variety of factors. Whether it’s time taken for the HR department to process the offer, chasing up reference checks or just forgetting to prioritise this hire, this could last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. What happens in the meantime to keep the candidate interested in joining your organisation? Quite often, nothing.
During that time, the candidate is open to offers from rival companies and will likely be wrapping up the interview process with other potential employers. Counter offers are also at an all time high as organisations take drastic measures to hold onto whatever talent they can. It is important at this time to stay in touch with the prospect and make sure they understand how much they are valued.
Now that you’ve accepted this to be the state of play, here are the steps to take.
Be Proactive Through the Entire Process
Candidates formulate feelings about what it will be like to work at your organisation based on your communications and how the process unfolds. If the application procedure is clumsy and disorganised, it reflects poorly on the company.
The process must be smooth and easy to negotiate from start to finish. From the point at which a candidate first encounters a job ad, or your website, you want to impress them enough to compel positive action. The candidate must have the impression that your organisation is well-managed, proactive, capable, and above all, cares deeply about their candidate experience. If a candidate applies and then receives no response for several weeks, another company is likely to take their attention.
Look at the process from the candidate’s point of view. Are there any bottlenecks you can identify? Any areas of confusion? Asking candidates that have previously self-selected themselves out of the process can often provide valuable feedback. While all of this may take time, it’s worth it when you consider the hidden costs of losing candidates late in the process.
Strengthen Your Employer Brand
When it comes to attracting and retaining top talent, the strength of your employer brand is crucial. This also applies to those who have accepted a job offer and are awaiting their first day. When a candidate accepts an offer, they may have to resign from their current position, which often leads to a counter offer. It can be very appealing to be offered more money to stay in a comfortable role.
However the grass is greener on your side, so make sure they know! There’s no use if they only find out once they start. If your organisation is an exciting, challenging workplace, make sure this is conveyed in the communications! Just like you look for candidates when filtering through resumes, likewise you should position your brand to express what a great place it is to work to grab their attention. The employer brand and offering must be so that the candidate truly sees your organisation as the future home of their career.
Showcase your business’s unique offerings, whether it’s the potential for career advancement or flexible working arrangements. It could be just the thing that persuades your top candidate from backing out at the last leg. Your employer brand should scream opportunity and persuade any potential candidate to stick with it and join. If it doesn’t, you’ll lose people in whom you’ve invested a significant amount of time.
Don’t Delay in Sending the Offer Out
When a candidate accepts a verbal offer of employment, their level of engagement is at an all-time high. The candidate will be excited, but if the offer does not materialise within a realistic time frame, this will swiftly change into a growing sense of doubt.
Some companies can take two to three weeks to return with official paperwork and this is too long. The more time it takes to complete the hiring process, the more time rival employers have to try and poach your candidate. If the timescale cannot be shortened, then expectations must be set accordingly and regular contact with the candidate must be maintained to ensure high levels of engagement.
If the company is using an external recruiter then this is a major part of the recruiter’s role. You’re not paying them just to fire CVs at you, you’re paying them to find excellent, motivated employees and this means working with the candidate right up until the start date, and beyond.
Once they accept the offer, a welcome call from a senior staff member or future line manager can go a long way. It demonstrates that the organisation cares about its employees and values them as individuals, which will be highly regarded and very motivating for your prospective hire.
Utilise an Onboarding Process
Using an onboarding process is a practical means of staying in touch with soon-to-be workers, and progress can be monitored if you take the extra step of utilising software. A well-designed onboarding process can make the difference between high employee retention and high turnover.
Onboarding should start as soon as the offer has been accepted and before the contract has been sent out. There are a variety of stand-alone tools that can be used, as well as specific modules in bigger HR software systems.
During their notice period, candidates can fill out forms, complete e-learning modules, view videos, and interact with employees and other new hires. The most important thing is to maintain the candidate’s interest and build excitement as the start date approaches.
This involvement is invaluable, and allows the candidate to feel like they are already part of the team. Many businesses will send out an offer letter, receive a signed answer, and then expect a completely committed candidate to show up a month later. Whilst many candidates do join, some choose to accept alternative offers or stay with their present job because they feel more valued and involved.
When a candidate is looking for work, there will be other options available to them in addition to yours. From the moment the candidate accepts the job offer until they start and become a full-fledged employee, it’s important to keep them pleased and engaged. If the employer brand is strong and actually reflects the reasons why someone would want to join in the first place, it can work wonders. Minimising the wait time for your candidates and employing an onboarding process can help to eliminate doubt and make them feel welcome.
These are just a few ways to keep your new candidates engaged and excited before their actual start date…and while they’re still being courted in today’s talent-short market.
If you’re having trouble finding or keeping high quality candidates, TalentVine can help by allowing you to find and choose from the best recruiters in your industry.