A recent SHRM article reports that the average time to fill a job — from the initial posting to an accepted offer of employment — increased by 62 percent for large global organizations between 2010 and 2015. And the average time-to-fill for jobs across all U.S. industries has been steadily climbing since 2009. It currently stands at 26 days, according to the most recent DHI-DFH Mean Vacancy Duration Measure.

As the hiring process gets longer, it stands to reason that candidate engagement becomes more of an issue. How can you adjust your talent management strategy to keep candidates engaged through a lengthy hiring process?

Manage Expectations from the Outset

It is the dream of every candidate to be instantly valued for everything he or she can contribute to an organization and to be hired on the spot. However, that is just a dream. The reality is that even the most qualified of candidates will likely have to go through a lengthy hiring process.

Preparing candidates by letting them know what to expect in the way of time to hire will help them stay focused and engaged during the process. When you receive a promising application, acknowledge it quickly with a short note about the way your organization processes a hire. When candidates are told what to expect, they can relax and enjoy the process more.

At various points during the hiring process, relay updates to your candidates to keep them in the loop. Send candidates interesting tidbits about events going on in the company to keep their attention focused on your organization.

eBook: How to Attract Top Talent Using Inbound Recruiting – Find out how to harness the power of an inbound recruiting strategy in order to attract, hire, and retain top talent.

Respond Quickly and Communicate Often

The hiring process from the candidate’s perspective is much like the morning after a first date. The agonizing “Will I get a call or not?” thought makes waiting extremely difficult. Naviga offers this bit of wisdom: “Constant communication with potential candidates during the hiring process is a key part of keeping them engaged. When candidates reach out about next steps or with questions about the process, make sure to respond to them quickly and honestly…On the other hand, if a candidate is not reaching out directly, then it’s your responsibility to keep them informed about what’s going on during the process. Even if you don’t have any new information to share, it’s still important to call or email the candidate to check in and ask how they’re doing. Candidates will appreciate being updated and not left in the dark.”

Be Scrupulously Honest

While you want to present your organization in the best possible light, it is important to be honest with candidates. Presenting a balanced view of the position and the organization will build trust and help you establish a real rapport with candidates. Candidates who feel comfortable with your openness and transparency are more apt to remain engaged than are candidates who feel misled in any way.

Use Technology to Build Connections

A robust applicant tracking system is an essential part of a great talent management strategy. Using a system that helps you automate candidate outreach and enables you to collaborate with hiring managers and others involved in the hiring process in real time will facilitate candidate engagement and likely shorten your time to hire. To see our talent management solution at work, schedule a demo of ThriveTRM today.