Five Simple Steps to Improve Applicant Communications

Applicant communication plans are like those New Year exercise resolutions, we all have high hopes and the best intentions, but we just can't seem to maintain the focus and consistency over time. One trick to keeping this resolution is to use the automated messaging tools built into your applicant tracking system (ATS). Like any good resolution, in order to be successful, you need a plan.  And like any good plan, you need to define your purpose, identify the opportunities and understand the tools available to you.

One of the main goals of any applicant communication strategy is to keep applicants engaged and set expectations about the recruitment process. When done well correctly, this can turn applicants into brand ambassadors for your organization, whether they are hired or not.

On the other hand, applicants can become discouraged when they feel that they have been forgotten or worse yet, not even acknowledged. Applicants want to know the status of their application at all times – period! Today's hyper-communicated world mandates that we regularly communicate with applicants. Silence is not golden.

Speaking of hyper-communication, applicants talk and share their experience with others. The old adage, bad news travels fast is also true with recruiting. The experience of today's applicants can cost you tomorrow's applicants.

For organizations serving the general public, your applicants are also your customers. Maintaining that customer status can depend on the experience that they have as a job seeker. Even when not hired, if the experience is positive, applicants can serve as brand ambassadors – it’s important to always end on a positive note.


Here are a few suggestions that you can add to your applicant communication strategy this year:


  1. Acknowledgment:   Acknowledging that you have received an application and thanking the applicant for their interest is your first opportunity to establish your employer brand and set expectations for potential next steps. Ideally, this acknowledgement should come within 24 hours of submission. Job Seekers often feel that their applications are being delivered to a black hole, never to be seen again. Acknowledging their submission can set you apart from the competition and make your hiring managers and recruiter’s lives easier. 
  2. Continued Interest:  The typical hiring timeline does not always goes as planned and despite our best efforts, delays can occur. This brings another opportunity to continue communicating with your candidates.   Whether it's because you are working through the applicant pool, key decision makers are unavailable or managing budgetary issues, silence can signal to your candidate that you are no longer interested.  Sending a note to express your continued interest, is a wise move.
  3. Rejection Notification:  Breaking up is hard to do but when the decision is made to not proceed with an applicant, it's important to let them know ASAP.  While rejection is not easy, it's better than the black hole of not knowing.  The message should convey to the job seeker that their time was valued. Not only is it courteous but it is another way to define your brand as an employer.
  4. Finally Thank You:  Once your new hire has been chosen and confirmed to start, send a final thank you to everyone who applied, thanking them for their interest and inviting them to apply for other positions.
  5. Continued Communications:  But wait, there's more… You've selected your hire. The start date, on-boarding and orientation are set. Continue the electronic communications by sending a summary to remind them of the date and time as well as what to expect on the first day, including what to bring in order to complete the new hire paperwork. Hopefully, your organization has an electronic on-boarding tool, if not another reason to start shopping around.


Continued communication with your applicants across the entire hiring process is best practice.  The job market is competitive and you want to stay on good terms with your candidates, even the one you don’t hire.  Using your applicant tracking system is an easy way to automate parts of the process and make sure you are not forgetting anyone.

Remember, your communications have a large impact on how prospective candidates and new hires view your organization.  Don’t let poor or non-existent communications dull potential candidate’s excitement and enthusiasm for you company.


Did you enjoy this article? You might also be interested in Using Social Media for Recruitment.



Amanda Fuller

Manager, Client Success & Education Services