Countdown To recruitDC: Mike Bruni On Candidate Engagement

Ed Note: The fall 2014 recruitDC event is just days away. The schedule is packed with great interactive content and I am honored to moderate the engaging talent panel. We're sharing a sneak peek with you, where each of the panelists will provide their perspective of candidate engagement.  We are going to continue the series with Mike Bruni of Leidos. How do you define candidate engagement? Why this is so challenging?

In recruiting terms, candidate engagement is the connection between candidate and recruiter as well as the rapport built between the two. It is the most important aspect of recruitment. First impressions are important and this sets the tone for the entire process.  This also includes the approach taken by a recruiter to identify and connect with a candidate.

For recruiters, it’s quite challenging as you need to approach different candidates using different methods and communication styles.  Recruiters face generational differences, skill differences, branding issues, etc. when approaching candidates.  I would say that engaging candidates is challenging, fun, and elusive.  It’s all three wrapped together.  Engagement includes the hunt, connection, and the ability to convince  a candidate to express interest in a particular opportunity.  The rapport that you build with a candidates sets the stage for the entire experience.

What about the role of consistency in engagement? Have you seen any of the new tools that aid you in this task?

Consistency in engagement is required.  The lines of communication must always be open.  The ability for a recruiter to constantly maintain contact, provide updates, and keep interest is paramount in the process.   This is the courting stage.  You need to genuinely be connected to each candidate.  I believe there are good tools and technologies out there that assist in finding talent as well as assist with communicating with talent.  No tool, however, replaces the recruiter to candidate human contact (Voice, meeting, e-communication, etc.).  The key lies in the rapport built.  It should not rely on a technological solution.  Candidates want the human interaction, not necessarily an off-the-shelf system.

How do you manage your time to make engagement your priority?  Any handy tips?

Organizational skills and the ability to manage your own calendar is key to prioritizing candidate engagement.  As we all know, recruiting is a very fluid occupation.  One minute you are here, the next you are there.  The ability to stay focused and staying one step ahead is required.  You must put in the time and take the extra steps to ensure that this is being done.

Design and implement a system for yourself.  You should maintain and have your own calendar for candidate calls, meetings, staff meetings, etc.  Sure this will change frequently but managing the changes is key to keeping focused and staying engaged.  You cannot let this system breakdown. You cannot let the administrative piece of the recruiting job interfere with your ability to stay one step ahead and to keep the focus on the candidate.

What frustrates you most about your peers who are bad at engagement?

What frustrates me about candidate engagement is the lack of recruiter to candidate response and communication.   I do understand how busy recruiters are and I know it’s definitely tough to fit everything into one day. One of the most pressing priorities should always be communication and the ability to provide feedback or just status.  It takes 2 minutes.  It can be just one email.  Something that gives the candidate some type of feedback or closure.   The heart of recruiting lies in the relationship between candidate and recruiting.  I see way too much of this.  It’s had a very negative impact on the function of recruiting in general.

Now over to you what is your perspective on candidate engagement?  What would you like to discuss further with the panel?

Mike Bruni possesses over 17 years of experience in Human Resources, Recruiting & Staffing.  Mike is heavily experienced within the Defense and Intelligence Communities. Mike joined SAIC (Now Leidos) in January of 2005 after spending 7 years in the staffing industry.  Since joining SAIC/Leidos he has taken on many roles leading many initiatives to include Talent Acquisition Management, Sourcing, Capture Staffing, Direct Recruiting, and Veteran Outreach. Connect with Mike on LinkedIn or Twitter