Candidate communications are an often overlooked but crucial part of the recruitment process. They keep the candidate engaged, updated, and enthusiastic about the role they’ve applied to.

These communications guide a candidate through the process from the moment they see your job listing through recruitment and into the onboarding process. Effective candidate communications are in some ways an extension of your onboarding strategy. After all, candidate communications are one of the key ways a candidate is introduced to your company culture and made to feel welcome.

Despite the importance of candidate communications, these are too often an afterthought for time-poor in-house recruiters with hundreds of applications to look through and dozens of interviews to conduct. With so much to do, recruiters and HR teams may struggle to find time to reach out to candidates, send interview reminders, and offer application feedback.

Fortunately, an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can help by streamlining tasks, automating communications, and ensuring candidates always feel in the loop. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the key ways that an ATS can help you communicate more frequently and effectively with candidates. But first, let’s take a closer look at the importance of candidate communications.

Why are candidate communications important?

With so many other tasks and duties competing for attention during the hiring process, why should you focus your efforts on candidate communications? Here are some key reasons.

Practice candidate relationship management

Candidate relationship management (CRM) is all about maintaining a positive and healthy relationship with candidates, regardless of whether they have applied for a job in the past, are currently in the application process, or may apply in the future. CRM is a proactive strategy that helps build talent pools and provides better access to passive candidates for future jobs. For effective candidate relationship management, communicating frequently is a great way to make candidates feel valued and as though their time and efforts are appreciated.

Earlier this year, a survey found that almost 58% of candidates expect to hear back from companies about their application within a week or less. Failing to put sufficient energy into timely and appropriate candidate communications is likely to damage candidate relationships and lead to them being reluctant to engage with your organisation in future.

Keep candidate engagement high throughout hiring

In a competitive talent market where many organisations are competing for top talent, it’s important to keep candidate engagement high. With the average interview process in the UK lasting 27.5 days, that’s a lot of time for a bigger organisation offering a better salary to swoop in and poach the top talent.

To maintain great engagement from your candidates, it’s important to communicate clearly and frequently with them throughout the process. The candidates need to feel comfortable that they have not been forgotten about and that their application is valued. Frequent updates on their application status are important throughout the hiring process.

This is especially important during lengthy recruitment processes. If candidates have to go through multiple rounds of interviews and wait a long time for pre-employment checks and background checks to be conducted they’re likely to lose interest. To keep the candidates engaged and provide a better candidate experience, communication about where exactly the candidate is in the process and what they can expect next is important.

Reduce the risk of interview no-shows

Candidates may not show up to their interviews for a wide range of reasons: maybe they’ve already accepted a job elsewhere; perhaps they lost interest in the role; or maybe they simply forgot or got the time, date, or location wrong.

Although it’s near impossible to ever eliminate annoying interview no-shows, good candidate communication can be an effective way to reduce their frequency. By reminding candidates of the details of their interview in the lead up to it, it’s far more likely that they’ll show up.

Smooth the transition into onboarding and high employee engagement

For candidates who accept the job offer, effective candidate communications smooth their transition into the role as the consistent and attentive candidate experience becomes a great onboarding experience. The value of this cannot be understated; while only 12% of candidates report that they had a good onboarding experience at their current workplace, onboarding is essential for employee engagement. Companies with high levels of employee engagement experience lower turnover rates, less absenteeism, better customer satisfaction, and even higher profitability.

So, for top employee engagement, you need a great onboarding experience, and effective candidate relationship management paves the way for a great onboarding. Think of each aspect as a rung on a ladder; without great candidate communications as the first rung, it’s hard to reach an effective onboarding, which makes it even harder to achieve great employee engagement.

The better your communications strategy, the more supported and welcomed your new recruits will feel all the way through their application, job offer acceptance, onboarding, and performance in their new role. After all, the way applicants are treated while hiring lays the foundations for how they will experience joining the company.

Provide a great candidate experience for unsuccessful candidates

Effective candidate relationship management is just as much about making a good impression on unsuccessful applicants as successful ones. The goal of CRM is to ensure that even those who don’t get offered the position leave with positive feelings about their candidate experience, making them more likely to apply again, leave a good review on a job site, or encourage a friend to apply. An attentive and communicative hiring process is just one way to improve the experience for all candidates, even unsuccessful ones.

So, with all these benefits to prioritising candidate communications in your strategy for CRM, how exactly can you communicate better? Here are four essential tips.

Tip 1: Automate text communications with current applicants

While email is the good old fashioned way to share information and keep in touch with candidates, in our fast-paced modern world it’s important to be even more proactive. Going the extra mile can make a real difference to CRM. That’s why communicating via text is a great way to keep candidates updated and engaged in the hiring process.

Using an applicant tracking system such as Hireserve ATS, it’s easy to automate texts to be sent to candidates from within the recruitment solution. From welcome messages to interview reminders and directions for assessment days, an ATS with SMS integration allows you to schedule communications directly to applicants’ phones to arrive when they’ll be most appreciated.

For example, if a candidate is coming to the office for an in-person interview, you might choose to schedule a text message to arrive just before they get there, telling them where to go or whom to ask for. This is a great way to streamline the candidate experience and go the extra mile to impress your potential new recruit.

Tip 2: Use branded, personalised messages to make candidates feel welcomed

Think it’s too time-consuming to send personalised communications to every single candidate? Think again. With a good ATS, it couldn’t be easier to accurately personalise all communications via email and text to ensure that applicants feel personally welcomed to the hiring process. Starting with an automated ‘thank you’ message after the candidate submits their application, these communications can continue to update candidates on the status of their individual application at each stage of the recruiting process.

Plus, with an ATS it’s easy to keep all communications branded and consistent. Just pick your email template and the tool can handle all the rest for you. When the branding of your careers page, candidate portal, and communications all match, it’s a great way to ensure a cohesive candidate journey.

Tip 3: Automate rejection messages

With 75% of jobseekers reporting that they have been ghosted by an employer after one job interview, it’s not unusual for applicants to never hear back about a job. However, while ghosting may be the easiest option, it’s bad practice as a recruiter. Applicants who never get a response from an organisation, especially after an interview, are unlikely to ever apply again and may even post negative reviews of the process online, damaging your employer brand. In other words, failing to respond to an unsuccessful applicant means burning a bridge.

While sending rejection messages may be one of the least popular tasks recruiters or HR staff have to complete, it’s also an essential one. Fortunately, when you use an Applicant Tracking System it’s easy to automate sensitive and personalised rejection messages to be sent in a timely manner as soon as a candidate is disqualified. Quick and effective, this makes it easier for recruiters or HR to stay on top of notifying unsuccessful applicants.

Moreover, because over 70% of candidates expect to receive detailed feedback on their application without having to ask for it, the ATS’ email templates make it easy to input a candidate’s feedback with ease. Job candidates appreciate this personalised touch and it helps them become stronger candidates next time they apply.

Tip 4: Keep your talent pool engaged with new job notifications and updates

If you’ve built a promising talent pool, for example through university job fairs or previous unsuccessful applicants, candidate relationship management is essential to keep these promising individuals engaged with your organisation. Using your ATS, it’s easy to automate personalised notifications and alerts to be sent out when a new and relevant job opens up at your company. By automating communications to the candidate database before the job listing even goes live on job boards or social media such as LinkedIn, it’s easy to get the right candidates interested immediately.

Moreover, you can use your Applicant Tracking System to segment these promising candidates and send more personalised communications to particular groups based on location, qualifications, or more. For example, you may have a segment of recent university graduates with whom you want to nurture a great candidate relationship so they can apply to future roles, and these individuals will receive very different communications to former employees who are now working elsewhere or previously unsuccessful applicants.

Transform hiring with an ATS today

In conclusion, an ATS is a great tool to enhance your CRM and candidate communications strategy. From streamlining hiring and improving recruiters’ effectiveness to speeding up time-to-hire and saving money, applicant tracking systems can transform your entire recruitment process. Intuitively designed and easy to use, Hireserve’s AI-powered ATS has been created to help in-house recruiters do their jobs better.

To learn more about how Hireserve ATS can improve your candidate communications and CRM, get in touch today. Alternatively, book a demo to see our powerful tool in action.

About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.