It’s true what they say — you cannot grow what you cannot measure. If you want to improve your early career recruiting strategy, you need to track engagement from the time they accept your offer, to their first day on the job.
Tracking candidate engagement offers two distinct benefits. One, it helps distinguish those who are excited for their first day at your company, versus those at risk of reneging on their offer. Two, it helps transform your overall candidate strategy on a year-over-year basis, helping to unlock a clear blueprint for what a successful candidate experience looks like.
But which data points offer the clearest depiction of candidate engagement?
Below, we explain five key metrics your team must track within your candidate keep-warm strategy. In addition, we explain why your previous tactics for measuring the success of your early-career recruiting program may now be obsolete.
The Evolution of Tracking Candidate Engagement: Why Your Old Strategy No Longer Works
For the longest time, recruiters leveraged email marketing campaigns as the primary (if not the only) tool within their keep-warm strategy. Data points for measuring candidate engagement, in turn, were limited to open rates and click rates. Employers reasoned that if an open rate hovered between 20-30% (well above the industry average for a standard marketing campaign), the incoming cohort of recruits must be engaged, right?
Open and click rates do not track engagement on a candidate-by-candidate basis, a must within today’s realm of early-career recruiting. Gen Z top talent expects a higher degree of personalization from today’s recruiters — more so than any previous generation.
In fact, research shows that a staggering 90% of Gen-Z workers value human connection when it comes to workplace communication — which frankly, they won’t get from a cohort-wide eblast. In addition, 60% want clarity on the parameters and expectations surrounding their role, and frequent check-ins with their supervisor.
Translation: Early-career candidates want one-to-one (not one-to-many) communications from their employers. Therefore, you must measure the success of those communications on the individual level, rather than tracking the engagement of a cohort as a whole. While it may sound tedious to measure how invested each individual candidate is at scale, we assure you it’s possible.
5 Data Points to Measure Engagement on a Granular Level
Recently, a Fortune 30 company asked Scholars, “How can we track engagement on a candidate-by-candidate basis?” As part of your keep-warm strategy, you should measure these five data points from the time they accept your offer, to their first day:
1. Peer-to-Peer Engagement
Maintaining open lines of communication is an essential component of any recruiting strategy. However, conversations between each candidate and your company aren’t the only type of communication that should be taking place.
Candidates want to establish relationships with their peers — not just with their direct supervisors. In essence, they want to establish a sense of community or friendships before they walk into their first day at the office.
As an employer, it’s your job to make it as easy as possible for these peer-to-peer connections to take place, then measure which candidates take advantage of these networking opportunities. There are two ways to track which applicants participate in peer-to-peer meetings:
- Online forms: Create an easy-to-use form where candidates record when, where, and how (virtual or in-person) they would be available to meet. Then, match candidates together based on their schedules and interests.
- Use a candidate experience software: With the Scholars platform, you can easily track different aspects of the candidate lifecyle — including peer-to-peer meetings.
2. Community Engagement
Hopefully, your team has created some sort of shared space where your incoming cohort can gather, ask questions, and share advice prior to their first day. Whether this is a Slack channel or an internal forum, community moderators should provide ice breakers, conversation starters, or probing questions to spark engagement.
However, once the conversation starts, how are you tracking engagement on an individual level?
Monitor these channels to see which candidates ask questions (or provide responses), and which have yet to make any effort at communicating with their cohort. Once you pause to look at your data, see if there are any trends that could be an early-indicator of candidate turnover.
When factoring in community engagement within your larger retention formula, consider the following:
- Communication frequency: How many times has each candidate engaged in community conversations?
- Initiation vs. replies: Which candidates ask questions, or spark up conversations with their peers? Which candidates simply reply to polls or ice breaking questions?
3. Social Media Engagement
In conversations with Scholars, many recruiting teams report that there is a direct correlation between low social media engagement and the likelihood that a candidate will renege on their offer. In other words, if a candidate doesn’t publicly share that they’ve accepted an offer from your company, it could be a sign that they’re not fully invested in the opportunity.
With that being said, sometimes candidates need an extra push to share their new internship (or full-time role) with the public. To help things along, try the following:
- Provide marketing deliverables: Create a unique hashtag, social media graphic, and sample messaging that each candidate can customize, then share on their personal channels.
- Make it feel like an achievement: Accepting an offer at your company should feel like a badge of company. Psychologically, if you make the role feel like an achievement, individual candidates will be more likely to share their new position with their peers.
4. Onboarding Engagement
You don’t need to wait for a candidate’s first day to begin the onboarding process. If you blend onboarding with your keep-warm strategy, you can use it as a tool to track candidate engagement.
How? Track the amount of time each candidate takes to complete a step within the onboarding process. Typically, applicants who take more time to submit required documents or respond to questions are more likely to back out of an offer. Specifically, you can measure:
- Time to submit documents: Did candidates submit their address, contact information, and information regarding housing in a reasonable amount of time?
- Community questions: When partaking in community or peer-to-peer conversations, how long does it take each individual to respond to questions?
5. Engagement Across the Candidate Lifecycle
Ideally, each candidate will maintain communication with your company from the time they interview to their first day on the job. In other words, if a signed offer letter is met with radio silence, only for a candidate to push themselves through a crash course on your company the night before their first day, it’s a sign that they’re not fully invested in the role.
Now, how can you put all of the above into metrics you can actually use?
One way to measure engagement throughout the entire candidate lifecycle is to track how much time they spend with each piece of content sent. This content should be tailored to their individual role and department (not simply the latest press release from your company). Tracking the time spent digesting each material helps determine:
- The value of the content: If a piece of content has a high drop-off rate across your cohort, perhaps it’s the materials — not the candidates themselves — that pose a problem. Again, ensure each piece of content is valuable, and relevant to the individual.
- Candidate investment: If a candidate spends 2-5 minutes reading (or listening to) each piece of content, they’ve probably digested the entirety of the document. However, if they spend 30 seconds or less, they probably scanned the document or simply read through your intro.
Leverage the Scholars Platform for a Holistic View of Candidate Engagement
Hopefully, these five data points provide a holistic picture on the effectiveness of your keep-warm strategy at an individual level. By tracking engagement through peer-to-peer connections, social media posts, and the onboarding process, you can determine which candidates are most invested in an opportunity at your company.
With that being said, some of these data points can be incredibly tedious to calculate. To help better track candidate engagement at scale, leverage the Scholars platform. With Scholars, you’re privy to data points you’d never collect through a standard email marketing campaign. Scholars automatically tracks peer-to-peer communications, time spent with each piece of content, and time spent completing each step within your onboarding process, thereby offering a clear depiction of candidate engagement.
To learn more about how Scholars provides better tracking across the candidate lifecycle, sign-up for a free demo.