It is the plight of every recruiter: finding the time to post the job, schedule interviews, make offers and somewhere, in that whirlwind of activities, try to keep the candidate informed, engaged and excited about the opportunity. It’s easy to understand how that candidate TLC can get lost in the shuffle. In 2016, make those potential-hire touchpoints a priority by following this candidate communication checklist throughout every stage of the hiring process.

1. Create a realistic job description

Before your first point of direct candidate contact, make sure each job description is honest and realistic. Clearly communicate the required skills, qualifications and responsibilities without inflating or playing down responsibilities. For example, if you are looking for someone to make tactical website updates, avoid language that says this person will set strategic website strategy. This will avoid the costly mistake of hiring the wrong person for the role, and finding yourself in the same position a few months later after this employee quits for a job that is a better fit.  

Where to start: Ask a colleague to review your new postings, and have them briefly summarize it back to you. If they have a different interpretation of the description than the actual job, it’s likely applicants will as well, so edit the description to better reflect who you are looking to hire.

2. Acknowledge each application

Confirm receipt of each application as soon as it is received, by setting up automatic confirmation emails. Let applicants know you received their application and include an estimated timeline and next steps in the hiring process. Include links to recent blog posts, employee testimonials and social media links.

Where to start: Recruitment software can send automatic, employer-branded confirmation emails that provide links to your social media sites or content that highlights your brand, culture and employee videos.

3. Outline the hiring process

Provide applicants with a clear roadmap of the selection process. Let them know the overall interview timeline, team members they will meet, background check criteria, any required personality tests, etc. These items help the candidate feel more in control during the interview process, and can result in less follow-up emails to you.

Where to start: Create a hiring process overview template to use as a guide for every applicant. This is likely to be tweaked by applicant and position, but will eliminate the need to create a new version for each candidate.

4. Provide timely communication

Update candidates as soon as you have feedback from the interviewing team after each interview stage. Leverage recruitment software that automatically collects interviewer feedback in near real-time, so you don’t waste valuable hours and days during the hiring process gathering this feedback from hiring team members.

Where to start: Incorporate the following touch points into your candidate communications strategy: (1) let applicants know as soon as possible if they were selected for an interview; (2) post-interviews, let candidates know if they are moving to the next round; (3) let all candidates know as soon as a final offer is accepted. Regardless of the interview stage, respond to all candidate inquiries promptly, thoroughly and professionally.

5. Develop your talent community

Don’t neglect your talent community. Communicate regularly with this group, and nurture these passive candidates. This community is filled with future team members, and/or those who will refer friends to your company.

Where to start: Create a quarterly talent community newsletter that includes company updates, open positions, recent content, product updates, etc.

6. Create opportunities for candidates to provide feedback

Any successful communication strategy leaves room for continual improvement and evolution. Create a brief, anonymous survey to send at the end of the hiring process. This allows candidates to be candid with their feedback, and allows talent acquisition teams to continually enhance the recruiting experience.

Where to start: Use a tool like Survey Monkey to create a survey that captures candidate feedback. Let candidates submit their information anonymously and limit the survey to 5-7 total questions. Circulate a quarterly report with the summarized data, to keep stakeholders informed on candidates’ experiences.