Best Practices

How every TA team can create a personalized candidate experience

Andrew Golden

Andrew Golden

Content Marketing Manager

Posted on

June 30, 2022

Today’s sourcers and recruiters have it tough – they are tasked with reaching out to and building deep relationships with candidates while balancing the fact that they are engaging with hundreds of potential candidates and doing all of this on a compressed timeline. All too often, this leads to candidates waiting for updates, sitting at funnel stages for too long, and generally feeling neglected.

To top it off, a white-hot talent market means top talent is bombarded with recruiting messages left and right, and candidates have more options than ever. To stay competitive in today’s talent market, recruiters and sourcers must find a way to stand out among the noise of top talent’s crowded inboxes. While there are many factors in the hiring market that are out of our control (ex: salary cap for a role, competitive offers, etc.), one of the most important factors in the hiring process is totally on us – candidate experience.

Positive candidate experience is worth its weight in gold to your employer brand. A study by IBM found that candidates were 38% more likely to accept a job offer if the candidate experience was positive. In addition, if a candidate has a good experience interviewing with your organization, they may leave you a positive review on Glassdoor. And even if they don’t get the job, a positive interview experience makes candidates much more likely to be open to interviewing for another position, referring their friends/colleagues, or even using your products down the road.

All of this sounds great, right? But if you’re like many sourcers and recruiters out there, you know that there are simply not enough hours in the day to create personalized candidate experiences while manually keeping track of, and following up with, hundreds of potential candidates. And even if you have the time, you may be lacking the resources and tools to gain visibility into where candidates are in the hiring process and how to support them with individualized attention (side note: if this sounds like a problem you’re having, Gem’s Talent Engagement platform can help you manage your candidates and automate your hiring process). 

So in this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to create a personalized experience for every candidate that will give them that warm fuzzy feeling (without tripling your workload).

Creating a personalized candidate experience

Building a personalized candidate experience is all about taking a holistic look at your hiring funnel and thinking about ways to make each candidate feel like they’re the only one you are talking to for a particular role. Here are some ways you can create personalized candidate experiences from initial reach out to offer extend, and beyond: 

  • Write inspiring job descriptions – Your job description should inspire potential candidates, make them excited to apply, and get them dreaming about a future with your organization from the first interaction. Don’t make potential candidates’ eyes glaze over with generic, boring job descriptions that sound like a word salad of industry jargon. Instead, highlight the tangible impact they’d have on the organization, what their day-to-day would look like, and even highlight the opportunities for advancement within your organization.   

  • Speak to candidates’ individual talents – Candidates today are receiving unprecedented amounts of messages that all say the same thing: “Hey, you have an impressive background. We’d love to learn more about you.” To stand out from the noise of a candidate’s inbox, personalizing your outreach messages is key. A study by LinkedIn found that personalized InMail messages perform 15% better than generic bulk messages. Instead of bulk sending generic messages that don’t convert, instead focus on explaining to each candidate why they specifically are the perfect fit for the role. We recognize that creating one-off messages for hundreds or even thousands of candidates is just not realistic. Using Gem’s automated sequences, you can create bulk outreach messages with tokens that get auto-filled with personalized information upon send: first name, last name, company, title, school, location, and more. Other tokens, like our {{reason}} token, allow sourcers to include more nuanced information: something you were impressed with in the candidate’s work history, or how you think they’d align with the company mission or vision – all without ever leaving a candidate’s profile.

email tokens
  • Send on behalf of – Personalized outreach is basically table stakes for attracting top talent at this point, but there’s always room to improve. Using Gem’s Send on Behalf Of (SOBO) feature, you can send personalized outreach messages from anyone at your company – giving you opportunities to create much more compelling messages “sent” from a potential future manager without that manager having to lift a finger. For example, if you’re recruiting for C-level or Executive positions, you can send messages directly “from” your CEO. If you’re hiring for SDR or AE roles, send messages from your Sales Manager or your Head of Product for engineering roles. These SOBO messages can be incredibly effective at increasing candidate response rates. 

  • Work with candidate timelines – When the perfect candidate comes along, of course, you want to move them through the hiring process as quickly as possible. However, recruiting is all about playing the long game. Sometimes things fall into place, and a candidate passes right through the funnel and accepts the offer within a matter of days. Other times, you may be in conversation with a candidate for months or even years before the timing is right for them to make a move. It’s important to remember that leaving a job and starting a new one can be an uncomfortable and nerve-wracking experience for some candidates. Asking candidates what their personal and professional timeline looks like for taking on the new role and letting them know you are willing to work as fast or as slow as they need will go a long way in making them feel special and wanted by your organization. For those strong candidates who aren’t ready to make a move just yet, Gem allows you to set up personalized long-term nurture campaigns where you can send things like employee testimonials, company news, culture-related content, and more to keep your organization top of mind when they’re ready for their next opportunity.

candidate nurture
  • Show candidates how their peers are doing – It’s easy to tell a candidate, “I think you’ll do great in this role”; it’s another thing to show them they’ll do well. Sharing profiles or spotlights of employees in similar roles and/or similar demographics excelling within your organization will serve as a “proof point” that candidates will thrive with you. Using Gem Campaigns, you can share the right content with the prospective candidates it will most resonate with: a podcast by your female Head of Eng to the female engineers you're reaching out to, for example.

  • Match the benefits to the person – Once you learn a little bit about the candidate, their background, demographics, etc., you can make inferences about what matters most to them and highlight different aspects of your compensation/benefits package. Maybe they recently started a family. So you may want to highlight your parental leave policy, child care support, quality health insurance plans, etc. You may also want to personalize your messaging based on what is essential to the role (ex: if it’s an engineering role, tell them about your dev roadmap, what their impact on the company would be, your tech stack, etc. If it’s a sales role, be upfront about the compensation package, how many sales team members hit their targets each quarter, etc.). 

  • Conduct interview surveys – It’s hard to offer a personalized candidate experience if you don’t know what’s working for candidates and what isn’t. Conducting interview surveys is critical in gauging candidate experience in (almost) real-time. These may involve questions like what has worked well for you in the hiring process, and what could be better? Did the recruiter provide timely communication throughout the interview process? How likely are you to recommend our company as an employer? These interview surveys also serve as yet another way to show candidates that their opinions are/will be valued if they decide to join your organization. 

  • Ask how/when candidates want updates — People have different communication styles; that’s a given. Asking candidates what communication cadence they prefer will allow you to establish the best communication pattern to make them feel comfortable throughout the process. Some candidates may not want to be bothered by daily email updates, and others might like constant check-ins. If nothing has progressed with the role, you can still provide a “no updates” email to let them know nothing has changed, but they are still top of mind for the role. Doing this will keep candidates engaged because they feel valued by your organization. With Gem’s Talent Pipeline, you can set reminders for follow-ups with candidates and easily send check-in emails directly from your dashboard. This ensures that candidates never feel as though they’re being ghosted.

Gem talent pipeline
  • Send swag/gifts to top candidates – This is a page taken directly from the sales and marketing playbook. Sending swag is a classic way to engage with prospects and get them interested in your company/brand, and recruiting is no different. The good news here is that anything and everything is deliverable now; and a well-timed, well-thought-out swag send will keep your organization top of mind for candidates and let them know that they’re not just joining a team; they’re joining a family. You can even extend this to candidates whom you know are interviewing for roles at other companies. Sending a “good luck” gift to a candidate shows that you support them in taking the next step in their career, whether that’s with your organization or not.

  • Keep in touch with silver-medalists – Just because a candidate did not receive an offer doesn’t mean they were not a strong contender. The unfortunate truth is that more often than not, you’ll only be able to extend an offer to one candidate out of a few equally strong applicants. Maintaining a good relationship with candidates who did not receive an offer with personalized outreach will help you maintain a warm talent pool of strong candidates that still want to work with you. Gem’s Candidate Rediscovery feature allows you to search and filter past candidates from your CRM or ATS and re-engage with a click of a button. 

gem candidate rediscovery

Personalized candidate experiences are the secret to attracting top talent in this, or any, talent market. Candidates that have a good experience interviewing at your company are much more likely to become your best employees, referral sources, and even future customers, so building and maintaining good relationships with them is critical. Creating a unique experience for every candidate may sound daunting, but with the right tools in place, you’ll be able to track, manage, and personalize your hiring process and roll out the red carpet for every candidate.

If you want to see how Gem’s Talent Engagement platform can help you stand out amongst the noise of a crowded inbox and turn candidate experience into your superpower, book a demo today!


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