By Jessica Miller-Merrell
 
One of the first obstacles we come across when we’re ready to reach out to a candidate is simply contacting them at a time and place where they’ll respond. It’s easy to forget that a recruiter’s call email or InMail may not be their first priority during the workday. After all, the types of candidates you aim to reach likely have very full days, so it’s essential to know how they’re spending this time and most importantly, how they want to be reached. 
Last year, Pew Research Center conducted an online survey about workers’ use of technology and revealed some surprising findings about what tools are essential. Email came in as the number one essential technology with 79 percent saying it was important at work. Next in line was Internet, followed by landline phone, cell phone and finally social networking sites, with only 18 percent saying these sites are important at work. 

How to Win at Candidate Communication & Engagement 

The reason this survey is so important to recruiters is because it shows where and how employees communicate, and allows us to factor that into developing recruiting and candidate engagement strategies. While I think these results aren’t necessarily representative of all candidates, it gives recruiters a place to start. I would recommend using these findings as a launching pad and discovering through experience how your candidates prefer to interact and engage with your recruiting and talent acquisition team. Talk with them to understand when, why and how they want to communicate.
No matter which method you use, ask yourself whether or not it’s a communication you would read/listen and respond to. Start these four categories to help guide your strategy.
Is Your Communication Welcomed?
Is your communication welcome in their email, voicemail or LinkedIn inbox? Is it something that will annoy them or peak their interest? Not all communication has to be solicited, but it should always be relevant and clear.
Customized
Many candidates, such as engineers in Silicon Valley, get multiple emails from recruiters each day. At the very least, all candidates likely deal with an enormous influx of communication day to day. Make sure yours are noticed with customized, unique messages that are targeted, focused and relevant.
Flexible
When communicating with a candidate, meet them where they are and avoid making demands or assumptions without their input. Plan phone calls around their schedule before considering your own and always be more accommodating than you are asking them to be. This is the reason I have been known to do phone and video interviews evenings, weekends and holidays. Sometimes the best way to engage them is to be flexible to their needs.
Responsive
Often the most welcome communication is one that comes after a door has already been opened, such as responding to a tweet or email, or asking them to engage while also discussing a mutual friend or a project you know they were involved in. One-way conversations between candidate and recruiter are so 2014. 
 Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell

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