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What Football Can Teach Us About Candidate Engagement

Posted by mataebi

Football is a game of strength, power, strategy and brand pandemonium. As fans gather to support their teams, there is an energy and excitement that fills stadiums around the country.  
While it’s not exactly the same, the entire experience can be easily equated to candidate engagement.
Strategic recruiting teams are built to create strategies to reach the masses of candidates and keep them excited through the hiring process. Many of these candidates are champions and superfans of their brand, too.
From these similarities, there’s a lot that recruiting and talent acquisition teams can learn from the all-American sport to improve candidate engagement and hiring experiences.
So why are talent acquisition teams overlooking the game of football when structuring new candidate engagement goals? Well, just like football, candidate engagement is difficult.
Establishing a strong candidate engagement strategy can be really simple. Whether we’re talking football or an exciting hiring process, it all starts with the basics.
 

Consistent Updates Keep Things Moving

After each play and at each stage of the game, there are precise and clear updates to keep players, teams and fans updated.
Everyone needs to know how many yards were gained each play, what down the offensive team is on, any penalties that occurred and the time left on the clock, for example. There is a lot of coverage in between and during plays, as well - who is on the field, injury updates, dancing fans and commotion in the stands.
Without these updates, the game would progress so slowly, and everyone might feel a little lost or even bored.
The same goes for your candidates. Updates are necessary at each stage of the hiring process, and it’s important to keep the conversation going even in between stages of the interview process.
The big lesson from football here is to keep the interview process moving along at a good pace with constant and engaging updates! Let candidates know when they’ve moved to a next round interview or even that their application is being reviewed. Any information is better than no information!  
 

Customization Matters

A football team running the same offensive and defensive plays over and over again each game would surely lose. Their opponents would know their plan of attack and be able to adapt and adjust accordingly.
A football team that has multiple plays at their disposal and leverages them differently, though, will be very successful!
No candidate wants to receive a generic marketing email from a company they’ve applied to. And they especially don’t want that same information regurgitated over and over again in different formats.
To optimize candidate engagement efforts, take a page out of any coaches playbook.
Plays vary depending on the type of play (offensive or defensive), the timing of the game (beginning of the first quarter or the final 30 seconds), the score (winning, losing or tied) and even the players who are on the field.
Mimic this in your interview process to send candidates content and updates that are relevant to their stage in the interview process (applied, first round interview, dispositioned, etc.), the type of position they’re interviewing for and where they rank in your candidate pool (top candidate or added to the pipeline). That way your updates and communications are not only consistent, but personal!
 

Feedback And New Perspectives Improve The Game

Often, fans are not happy when they see a flag on the field and the camera pan over to a referee. Especially not when there are subsequent penalties on their favorite team. Referees are involved in the game to make sure everything runs smoothly, and more importantly, is fair.  
Correcting errors in football can drastically change the outcome of a game, and correcting errors in a hiring process can also change a candidate’s perspective of a company.
Soliciting feedback and learning new perspectives will make the hiring process more effective and ultimately more desirable for your candidates.
Surveys are a fantastic way to gather information about the interview process. Ask candidates about their experience. What did they like? Dislike? What is their perception of your company after going through a hiring process?
This might shed light on areas that need a serious change. Plus, it's encouraging to see where your team is excelling.
Regardless of the type of feedback, it’s important to set a standard for candidate satisfaction. Then, constantly measure your attainment to that goal.