How to Attract and Engage the Best Talent for 2021


There’s lots of talk about candidate experience and engagement and for good reason too. The Forum for Inhouse Recruitment Managers 2020 Annual Membership Survey placed Candidate Experience and EVP & Employer Branding 2nd and 3rd in a list of the top 23 strategic priorities for HR and Talent Acquisition/Recruitment. These are the first experiences job seekers have of your brand and what it might be like to work for you. This short guide highlights some key areas where you can quickly make a serious impact for the year ahead and beyond!

Create stories and content that will grab your audience’s attention

If you created a dating profile with little information about you, your interests and without any clear photos, you wouldn’t expect to get many hits. Grabbing the attention of potential hires is no different.

We exist in a world of images and videos, much of which we consume through our phones. Text based job ads and descriptions simply don’t cut it now. Potential candidates spend time researching companies via social media, Glassdoor, careers sites and wider company news.

More than ever, job seekers want to really understand company culture and the people behind the brand. Creating short videos that include your people is powerful, and audiences love video. The stats back this up:

  • Video is shared 20 times more often than any other type of content on LinkedIn
  • Job postings with video have a 34% greater application rate than postings without video (Career Builder)
  • People spend over twice as long on a page with video than without (Wistia)

A modern applicant tracking system will support video and image-based ads.

Video and images don’t just need to be about specific jobs. Candidates want to really experience your culture and people - get creative with your workplace stories; they don’t have to be highly polished – just use your smartphone and experiment.

Fish where the fish are - use your biggest (and free) untapped marketing resource

It sounds so obvious doesn’t it but taking time to consider where our potential hires ‘hang out’ online and reaching them there is critical. Social media stands out, but different audiences may spend time on a variety of platforms, whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat.

It may seem like a huge and expensive task to reach people across these sites, but the key is harnessing your biggest marketing asset – your people! Encourage your people to share your newly created videos and images within their own social networks and even provide them with clear guidance on how to create their own! The more engaging and relatable the content, the more it will be shared and the more engagement (likes and shares) you’ll get. Even more, accessing your employees’ own networks opens up access to a far more diverse group of possible hires.

Harnessing your peoples’ social network reach:

Employee network size

Utilise the free job boards too

Make sure you’re utilising all the free job boards out there too. Your ATS should automatically make sure your adverts are posted to Google for Jobs, Indeed,, Adzuna and Zip Recruiter. These sites give you access to a huge audience and they are totally free. Make sure you track where your candidates (and more importantly your hires) are coming from using a ‘Candidate Source Report’ from your applicant tracking system.

Don’t let your application process undo all the hard work

So, you’ve successfully reached your audience with content and stories that bring your organisation to life. They’re ready to apply but what does that experience look like?

Did you know that lengthy applications can cause 60% of your candidates to drop out of your recruiting process? (Workpolis)

If your application process is long winded, or worse confusing or frustrating, you can lose good candidates very quickly. Put yourself through your own job search and application process (on a mobile as well as a PC) and be honest about what works and doesn’t. This can be a sobering experience, but you’ll learn a lot and a good ATS provider will allow you to:

  • Make changes to ensure jobs are found easily
  • Support a 2-stage application process (keep the first stage to under 2 minutes), with relevant questions to reduce drop-off and frustration
  • Use personalised, friendly and approachable language throughout the experience
  • Use automation in a positive way with personalised communications (email and text messages) that set out clear expectations about the hiring process and timelines and updates throughout. Freeing up time on automating communications will give you time back for speaking with and connecting with your best candidates throughout

It doesn’t stop there!

Challenge your entire selection and onboarding process.

Use your applicant tracking system’s reporting to identify bottlenecks at key stages of the process and take action to release them. This data along with other key insights should be easy to access and understand.

Work with hiring managers to get them onboard with timely communication, advice on best practice for video interviews and providing valuable feedback.

We've created a free guide on how to create more productive partnerships with hiring managers:

DOWNLOAD How to Create Successful Partnerships with Hiring Managers


Ensure your onboarding process doesn’t just focus on completing the paperwork. Your ATS should:

  • Support a fully online process, that is supported with video to welcome new hires
  • Provide candidates with all the information they need before starting
  • Give candidates a feeling of connection and belonging, even before they start.

If you can’t manage onboarding online, use messaging to send your candidates a quick intro from their new manager and the team. In a very virtual world, this will bring their new job and company to life!

The benefits of a really slick and engaging onboarding process:

  1. Decrease time to settle and perform by 30%
  2. Improve new hire retention by 82%
  3. Increase productivity from day one by 70%

(Brandon Hall Group)

Final thoughts…

Use the New Year to take stock and create a plan to enhance and improve your candidate engagement. It doesn’t require huge investment, but the results will transform your hiring effectiveness and enhance the job seekers’ experience and perception of your organisation.

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