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Attention is silver, but time is gold in talent acquisition

Synchronous vs. asynchronous candidate communication

by Annie Burkhardt

The lack of physical interactions in the office during pandemic lockdowns has led to a rise of synchronous means of communication channels like Slack, Teams or Zoom. Many people have experienced the power of real-time, always online communication for home office collaboration. However, this is not always the best option when you want to put the interests of your candidates at the heart of your talent acquisition. Getting candidates on the phone is one thing but getting their true undivided time and commitment to your conversation is another challenge altogether.

Let’s look into three scenarios where asynchronous candidate communication can help you get ahead of the competition by allowing your candidate to interact with you whenever it suits them best. 

Scenario 1: Candidate outreach 

Imagine you are working on a project with your colleagues in your open space office: Firing questions and remarks back and forth while simultaneously attending to your own tasks. Your phone rings and you do not recognise the number so you answer still sitting at your desk to find out who it is. As it turns out it is a recruiter who’s been in touch with you a while ago. After some friendly reconnecting the recruiter starts shooting questions about your skills and ambitions. You’re trying to find ways to give yes/no answers while at the same time leaving your seat frantically searching for an empty meeting room to avoid your colleagues catching onto the conversation. Of course, there is no space that allows for a little more privacy right now so you quickly wrap up the conversation leaving you distracted from your work and disappointed that you could not present yourself properly by speaking freely.

Whether you’re calling a candidate from your talent pool to tell them about your amazing new job opening or trying to reach them to schedule an interview- our outreach is very likely going to be one of the many, many messages and calls your candidate receives on an average day. Harvard Business Review already reported in 2016 that the proportion of time people spend collaborating in (online) meetings or on the phone hovers around 80% of their worktime, making it very difficult to add calls from a potential new employer to that already overfull mix. Expecting ‘right here, right now communication’ from your candidates means they will get distracted from whatever they were doing and experience unnecessary stress to answer you directly.

Scenario 2: Telephone screening

Guess what? After you have taken your time after work to check out the information the recruiter sent following your phone call, this position does sound like something you might be interested in. You email back that you’d be curious to hear more and send a time that would be handy for you to talk. You’ve planned to go for a walk during lunch so you can speak freely. It feels like you’re sneaking around, and you hate lying to your lunch buddy about skipping your fries on Friday for a pretended healthy lunch walk.

If you’re looking to have a longer synchronous conversation with your candidate, chances are high that you will have to email ping-pong your way towards a suitable time and date or make yet another phone call that adds to the candidate’s information overload. 

Scenario 3: Getting to know your future team 

You’ve had a very successful day off, because you’ve nailed your on-site interview and are moving on to contract negotiations. However, you’d like to chat to a few of your direct future team members before deciding. An online call has been set up, but that means that you have to make up an excuse for leaving work early again or participate from home and run late for daycare pick-up. You choose the latter because you get the feeling that some of your closer colleagues are catching on to the situation and you don’t want to share the news before the new contract is signed and sealed.

You get the point: being involved in a recruitment process (especially if you weren’t really looking for a new job in the first place) usually leads to a certain friction in a candidate’s daily life and it tends to involve some awkward sneaking around. What if you could get ahead of your competition by completely taking that discomfort out of your candidate experience? 

Asynchronous candidate communication for the win

Asynchronous communication takes place when the sender sends his message to the receiver without expecting an immediate response, which allows your candidates to engage with you at a place and time that suits them best. This makes it easier to be focused on your message or question. On top of that the information you shared is saved by default and can be revisited in the future rather than being lost in a hasty phone call. Finally, asynchronous candidate communication allows room for more diverse talent to shine. Why would you exclusively give those candidates a chance who have the ability to come up with the right on the spot answers to your unexpected phone call? Others might be just as suitable for the position, when given the time to reflect and properly digest your question or proposal. 

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How to make asynchronous messages stand out? 

Allowing your candidates to attend to your message or question at their own terms also puts you at risk of your message receiving no attention at all. Finding a way to stand out and make a personal connection without any real time interaction is therefore crucial to the success of asynchronous outreach. Next to evolving into our default means of online communication more and more, video is proven to be an effective attention grabber and engagement amplifier. Next to standing out in an inbox full of text messages or adding color to a LinkedIn feed, video also allows for a little personal spark in-between the lines. What if the candidate in the above scenario would have received a video message with a quick intro of the vacancy instead of a cold call? What if they could have participated in an automated video interview at home after work with plenty of time to properly reflect their answers and show off their skills? What if the future team would have introduced themselves and the job tasks in a video vacancy? 

Don’t be late to the asynchronous video party 

Just like any innovative approach or experimental strategy using asynchronous communications with a personal touch by adding videos will only make you stand out if your competition is not doing the same. Research by lighthouse reports a steep increase in prioritising video interviews among TA leaders. The time to make a move is now: Just hit that record button! 

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