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Let’s say you’re out fishing. It’s not your best day at the pond. You’re catching catfish when you really want carp, and the carp that you do see just aren’t big enough to take home. But hey—the pond is full of fish. Those little carp will get bigger. And maybe next time, you’ll be looking for catfish. You’re not about to abandon this fishing hole just because of one slow day. By the same logic, you shouldn’t discount past candidates just because they weren’t hired in the past.

In healthcare, your pool of candidates is decidedly finite. The healthcare industry is expecting to be short 3.2 million workers by 2026, thanks to many workers retiring just as demand increases. A re-engagement campaign for past candidates is one strategy to help you maximize your talent pool.

Why Bother Courting Past Candidates?

Why re-engage previous applicants? Haven’t you already wrapped up your relationship with these candidates? Not necessarily.

Working with former candidates has some real perks. These past applicants already understand your business and probably have a sense of your culture. They know you, and you know them. In the right circumstances, that will allow you to proceed more quickly through the hiring process, possibly even jumping straight to an interview or offer. 

There’s a silver lining to recruiting in a relatively high-turnover field. Your past applicants from months ago might already be looking for new opportunities. Even if they’re not, your re-engagement campaign will let them know that you’re hiring, which can encourage them to refer their job-seeking friends.

Ultimately, healthcare recruiters are looking for talent in the middle of a staffing shortage. We have to be willing to engage with the same candidates more than once. 

Take a Deep Dive Into Your Care Pool

When we say “care pool” we’re talking about your network of healthcare talent, including all current and former candidates and employees. If you maintain records of your past applicants in an applicant tracking system or another talent database, you’ll be able to go fishing for strong candidates who didn’t join your team during prior rounds of recruiting. 

Now, pull out the best candidates from previous recruiting rounds. How you do this will depend on your technology. If you use Apploi, you can filter candidates your team rated highly, or just look through the applicants that made it to a late stage in your recruiting workflow.  Apploi also retains your messaging history and your team’s notes, so you can see exactly where you left off. 

Look for candidates who you passed on at the time because they were missing a little experience, or because you were missing the budget required to make them an offer. You may even find candidates who got an offer from you but had already accepted a job somewhere else. It’s possible these people will be available again. If you use Apploi, your analytics reports should help you identify any trends that are contributing to unsuccessful recruiting.

Set Yourself Goals

Even if they feel arbitrary at first, set yourself some goals for your re-engagement campaign. With these benchmarks in place, you’ll have proof that your strategy works. Plus, you’ll be set up to track how results change when you tweak your re-engagement language or method of communication.

Your specific goals will depend on your business and recruiting needs. Perhaps you’re hoping to hire three past applicants as new RNs this quarter or reconnect with several first-time CNAs. Understanding these goals will help you evaluate success and decide how much energy to pour into candidate re-engagement. 

Organize Your Re-engagement Plan

A successful re-engagement email campaign will be personal and specific. To this end, LPNs should not get the exact same email as home health aides. You want specific messaging to show that you’re invested in each of your candidates (even passive ones). 

Once you’ve solidified your pool of candidates for re-engagement, organize them by position. Schedule out your hiring plans, setting dates by which roles should be filled. Having a timeline in place adds urgency for the candidates and increases the chance that you’ll get a response. 

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Connect As Individuals

If you have the ability, you might try re-engaging your past applicants by reaching out to them individually. A phone call goes a long way toward showing sincerity. That’s important, especially if you’re connecting with candidates who you rejected in the past. 

Before reaching out to a previous candidate, make sure you understand why they didn’t wind up with the job. If your business rejected them, you don’t want to rescind any feedback you provided at the time, but you can ask to learn more about their experience since you last spoke. You can keep track of this history by making notes in your applicant tracking system.

No one wants to feel like they got a job because they were the best of bad options. Be sensitive to this while talking to past applicants. Explain why you’re reaching out now, whether or not you made them an offer in the past. Always thank them for their time and interest, and, if possible, highlight the positive aspect of their past application that made you want to reach out again. 

End this interaction with a clear invitation for them to apply for a new position (or to skip straight to interviews). 

Follow Up

After making contact, follow up with a recap of your request. Email or text can work for this, but texting might have a better response rate. In 2022 so far, we at Apploi have seen that applicants are 2.5 times more likely to respond to texts than to emails. That’s something to consider if you’re struggling to connect. 

This is your chance to appeal to your candidates’ FOMO. Let them know what exciting things have been happening in your businesses. Any positive mentions in the news? Awards? New technology? Change in leadership? Vibrant culture? Try to isolate what makes your business a great place to work, and lean into it. Keep it short, highlighting the very most attractive reason to work at your company.

Once again, end with a call to action. Ask your candidates to schedule an interview or submit their materials, and let them know about any deadlines to apply. 

Stay On Good Terms

After going through a candidate re-engagement campaign, it’s possible that you’ll wind up rejecting the same people twice. This can be painful for applicants. That’s all the more reason to make sure your communication is genuine, that you give useful and honest feedback, and that you thank candidates sincerely for their time. In Apploi, you can mark past candidates as do-not-hire to avoid re-engaging with the wrong people. 

You might not have time to tell everyone exactly why they didn’t make the cut, but you can at least inject warmth into your standard messaging. Your re-engagement campaign will teach you quickly why it’s so important to be communicative with candidates, even ones who don’t get the job. Use this as motivation to improve candidate engagement with automated messages and candidate touchpoints.

Re-engaging Past Applicants With Apploi

Apploi’s suite of staffing tools makes candidate engagement (and re-engagement) easier than ever. We help employers source candidates, hire quickly, and onboard new recruits, all while staying in touch. Send unlimited texts and emails from our platform and keep a secure record of your messaging history. 

Interested in learning more about how you can recruit, hire, and onboard staff quickly? Contact us today for a free demo of our end-to-end talent management solution.

Melanie Boroosan

Over her six years in healthcare administration, Melanie has managed human resources, legal, compliance, payroll, and recruitment efforts at a corporate level. This oversight granted her a deep appreciation for the unique needs of healthcare managers, and for the direct ways that business operations affect the wellbeing of each employee. As Apploi’s Director of Healthcare Innovation, Melanie draws from her experience in healthcare HR and ancillary long-term care to pursue a vision of holistic healthcare staffing. Her work is rooted in the knowledge that great care begins with improving quality of life for all healthcare workers.