With so much focus on the first 90 days of on-boarding to improve retention, often organizations overlook the engagement with candidates between offer acceptance and the first day of employment. Losing a candidate after an initial offer acceptance can be very disappointing for many internal stakeholders. No understaffed department wants to hear there are additional hiring delays and increased workloads because a candidate walked away on or before Day 1.
Why do candidates rescind? Counter offers by other organizations, insecurities about leaving a current employer, or concerns about job and culture fit may manifest in the space before Day 1. Worse yet, expectations may not have been clear and on Day 1 they realize there is not a good cultural fit (see our blog “The Link between Employer Brand and Recruiting Success” on this last point).
On a positive note, getting to the offer and acceptance stage can be exciting for both the candidate and the organization, and proper engagement immediately after the offer can heighten that energy and infuse it into work on Day 1 and beyond. The ongoing communication can also help foster loyalty, defuse a candidate’s concerns, and prevent their entertainment of counter offer discussions.
Some Best Practices for Fostering Pre-Employment Engagement include:
- Once your candidate accepts the offer, have one or more welcome letters slated to arrive as soon as possible each outlining something different such as key contacts, potential peer mentors, orientation logistics or other appropriate pieces of information to prepare the candidate before the start date. Ancestry DNA has this one figured out. In the 6-8 weeks between ordering a test kit to receiving the results, they send emails with increasing frequency as you near the results receipt, each with new information about the process and links to videos that teach clients about their services and insights into using the results, each building excitement that you’re almost there! If only all employers could keep us so riveted about starting a new job…
- Have the candidate’s manager or peer buddy reach out and call the associate to answer questions about what to expect on the first week of work to begin developing a relationship.
- Have the candidate complete a bio and provide a photo that is shared with the team or post on the company’s intranet, website, on the bulletin board, or in internal communication forums and copy the candidate on the posting. Keep it appropriate and written to fit the culture.
- Plan to take them to lunch after Day 1 and let them know before they start.
- Reach out to the candidate to obtain basic information so that items such as business cards, payroll & benefits links, equipment and uniform set up and they are moving forward before Day 1.
- Ensure an agenda is in place for their first week of work. Ensure the proper personnel will be on hand to orientate the candidate on Day 1 and send the candidate and trainers the schedule in advance.
- Waiting for backgrounds to clear? Make sure you touch base with the candidate every few days while you wait for information to arrive.
- Are you hiring an executive or associate who will have a particularly grueling onboarding that takes them away from loved ones? Send their spouse, dependents, or significant other a letter thanking them in advance for sharing their loved one’s time and provide them basic contact information for their use once employment begins.
Set clear expectations on who is responsible and accountable for handling pre-employment engagement. If you adopt a practice that is cumbersome, time consuming, uninspiring or no one is accountable for its completion it will fall away, or worse, it will be inconsistently applied and could generate resentment among new hires.
Whatever your organization elects to do, make sure it is FUN, SIMPLE, standardized, and organized so that it is easy to execute!
A well-executed hiring and engagement process gives candidates confidence in your organization’s professionalism, builds pride, and inspires loyalty before they ever walk in the door.