Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly intelligent—to the point where it doesn’t feel so artificial anymore. Gone are the days when computers struggled with basic conversation; advances in natural language processing models have given rise to ever-more sophisticated tools like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard. These language models can tell jokes, write poems, compose essays and more.
For HR manufacturing leaders, these new AI capabilities beg the question: How can they advance recruiting? Well, one way is to leverage AI-powered tools to drive candidate engagement. Before we dive into the details, though, let’s review why candidate engagement is critical.
Why HR Manufacturing Leaders Need to Prioritize Candidate Engagement
It’s a candidate’s market in the manufacturing industry. In fact, recent research estimates there will be over 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030. So to be competitive for the best candidates, you need to find a way to draw talent in and convince them that they want to work for you.
That’s what engagement does. Companies with a solid candidate engagement strategy succeed in maintaining candidates’ interest and building their enthusiasm. That means they’re better positioned to compete with other offers and snag highly qualified candidates faster. The best engagement strategies support each step of your company’s full cycle recruiting process—from screening to onboarding—facilitating strong employer-employee relationships at the outset.
So, how can HR teams create powerful candidate engagement?
What It Takes for HR Leaders to Build Candidate Engagement
Candidate engagement is all about communication. Your teams can build relationships by consistently and clearly communicating with candidates throughout the recruiting and hiring process. Along the way, they should:
- explain the hiring process and timeline,
- provide information about the open position and the necessary qualifications,
- answer candidates’ questions,
- convey a compelling employer brand, and
- create a sense of mutual trust and respect with each candidate.
Like any other relationship, creating and sustaining candidate engagement takes time and effort. Unfortunately, those resources are generally in short supply for manufacturing recruiters, who are already stretched thin trying to fill multiple open positions.
To make matters worse, building engagement isn’t just about putting in the time—you need to move fast and be highly responsive to hire workers, especially manufacturing candidates, in today’s market.
That’s where AI comes in.
How AI Can Help Manufacturing Recruiters Build Candidate Engagement
Today’s AI is smart enough to carry on basic conversations, expediting every part of the recruitment and hiring process. Here are five ways AI can help recruiters drive greater talent engagement.
1. Faster application screening.
Gone are the days when talent teams had to read over individual applications or waste hours calling candidate after candidate to see who had the right qualifications. Today’s AI systems can quickly open a conversation with a new applicant and walk them through screening questions to identify the best candidates faster.
TalentEngage from FactoryFix is one example of how smart technology can enhance candidate engagement. When a candidate submits an application, TalentEngage automatically starts an SMS text conversation and prompts the candidate to complete screening questions. This dramatically increases your team’s speed and responsiveness; our data show that manufacturing companies using TalentEngage can connect with talent five times faster than they could using traditional job boards.
Responding to candidates quickly by automating application screening provides two clear benefits. First, a fast response demonstrates to candidates that you value them and respect their time. Second, it lets you advance highly qualified candidates from application to interview scheduling in less time, which means you can extend offers to your best candidates before they’ve even heard from your competitors.
2. Enhanced job matching.
AI systems with natural language processing (NLP) capabilities can match job postings with candidate applications with a high degree of accuracy. That means that no matter what specific terminology a candidate uses in their application, the AI system can recognize whether they’re a good fit for the position. AI-powered job matching is especially helpful in high-volume hiring situations where recruiting teams have hundreds of applications to evaluate.
3. Personalized candidate communications.
Recruiters can use AI to generate personalized communications that keep candidates interested and up to date on the hiring process. These individualized communications build trust and foster engagement—with little to no extra effort from your team.
If an AI program is taught about a particular company’s employer brand specifications, acceptable language and desired tone, it can produce a variety of templated and customized communications that all “sound like” the company but that are personalized to the candidate. Whatever your brand includes—from a commitment to safety and regular growth opportunities to advanced factory floor technology—you can configure an AI platform to discuss.
4. Chatbots and virtual assistants.
Of course, talent engagement is a two-way street. That means recruiters can’t just throw information at their candidates; they need to be responsive and answer candidates’ questions to truly build a relationship. Again, AI systems with NLP can hold entire conversations with candidates—and they’re so sophisticated that candidates won’t know when they’re talking to a chatbot instead of a person.
Virtual assistants also provide 24/7 accessibility so that candidates can receive a response whenever they reach out, even on weekends or off hours when no one from HR is available.
5. Streamlined interview scheduling.
AI-powered interview scheduling systems eliminate the endless back-and-forth messages—and the endless delays—that used to accompany any kind of scheduling task. An AI platform evaluates the times the HR team has available for an interview, works with a candidate to quickly find a suitable time, schedules the interview and notifies both parties.
TalentEngage from FactoryFix goes a step further by automatically reminding candidates about their upcoming interviews, thereby lowering the chance that a candidate no-shows or “ghosts” the HR team for that meeting.
Candidate engagement is critical to hiring in-demand manufacturing workers—and AI helps recruitment teams reach candidates faster and build stronger engagement without spending hours messaging with candidates.
Six Steps to Faster Recruiting in a Candidate’s Market