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The Candidate Communication, Applicant Experience, and Employer Brand Connection


When was the last time you applied for a job? Did the employer respond to your application, even with a simple “thanks, but no thanks?” Or, were you left wondering if your application had fallen into a black hole? If your answer is the latter, you’re not alone.

In recent years, job seekers have increasingly griped about a lack of response from employers. In fact, workers surveyed for iHire’s 2020 State of Online Recruiting Report cited “not hearing back from employers after applying or interviewing” as their top job search challenge. And, in today’s economic climate, searching for work is exceedingly emotional and frustrating, especially for those who have been unemployed for months due to COVID-19.

With high hopes for finding not necessarily the perfect job, but any job, candidates now desire communication from employers more than ever – in the least, they want to know when they are no longer in the running for a role so they can focus their search efforts elsewhere.

By leaving job seekers in the dark, you create a poor candidate experience, which can negatively impact your employer brand. And, with a sub-par employer brand, recruiting and retaining great talent only becomes more difficult.


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3 Top-of-Funnel Messages to Convey

As an HR professional, you have the chance to change this paradigm with a renewed commitment to communicating with candidates. But, communicating with every applicant is daunting when you’re a busy hiring manager who wears multiple hats.

While applicant tracking systems (ATS), candidate management platforms, and other automated messaging tools simplify communication, you still need to ensure you’re conveying the right messages at the right times. That includes communicating with candidates early in your recruiting process.

Although these candidates may not be your eventual hires, treating them well will leave them with a positive impression of your employer brand – your reputation as a workplace. Before you post your next job ad, commit to sending these three top-of-funnel messages:


  1. Acknowledging applications. Candidates want to know that their resume didn’t get lost in cyberspace. A short-and-sweet message confirming that you received their application will ease their anxiety and keep you from receiving an overload of follow-up emails and calls from eager applicants. When sending this type of message, you may also include details about the next steps in your hiring process and specifics about when applicants can expect to hear from you if they are selected for an interview.


  1. Disqualifying candidates. No one likes to be the bearer of bad news, but rejecting or disqualifying candidates is an inevitable part of the hiring process. Be transparent with your applicants and let them know when they fall out of your recruiting funnel. This type of message can be simple, but you can also use it as an opportunity to thank the applicant for their interest in your position and encourage them to continue their job search.


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  1. Pipelining qualified talent. Often, employers are quick to discard resumes that do not perfectly match the role for which they are hiring. But perhaps that disqualified candidate would be a great fit for another type of position or a perfect future hire. Add those candidates to your pipeline so that you can tap into a qualified talent pool when the need arises. When messaging pipelined candidates, clearly state that they were not selected for the job. However, tell them that you will keep their resume in your talent database in case a future opening better fits their skills and experience. You may also encourage them to stay engaged with your brand by inviting them to follow you on social media, subscribe to your newsletter, and stay tuned to your careers page.


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These three types of messages, although simple and straightforward, can go a long way in creating positive candidate experiences. Those experiences add up to strengthen your employer brand – regardless of whether you use automated messages, utilize templates, or respond to each candidate manually.

Moreover, a strong employer brand not only helps your recruiting and talent retention efforts, but it also has a direct effect on your overall corporate brand and reputation in your marketplace. By committing to communicating with candidates, you’ll do your part to eliminate the applicant black hole and further the hiring industry toward a much-overdue change.


Article originally appeared in HR.com.

by: Steve Flook
March 31, 2021