It was not all that long ago that I was a Singleton on a journey for love. I spent countless hours putting the best version of myself out there via online dating sites in hopes of finding a match. More often than not, I’d get no responses to my messages. I found my experience similar to a candidate’s experience with an online job search: hours put towards an application only to get no response. Sometimes, not even a “thank you for applying.”

Virtual chats give candidates who are tired of the application black-hole a chance to connect directly with a recruiter, putting a human connection to what can sometimes be a discouraging job application experience. It’s more personal than reading a company profile, less intimidating than a phone interview. Consider it a “pre-date,” if you will.

What makes a great virtual chat experience? Here’s what my online dating experience has taught me:

It doesn’t have to be fancy to be impressive.
I will always prefer that coffee date with a great match to a fancy steak dinner where I struggle to find something to talk about. You don’t need advanced technology to have a virtual chat session. What’s important is who you’re talking to and what you’re talking about. Social media channels like Facebook and Instagram have chat and messaging functionality that can be turned on and off as needed. Twitter can be utilized for office-hour style live tweet chats. Chatting through social channels gives companies an opportunity to “try before you buy” and work out the kinks of live chatting before investing resources in a live chat tool.

Set expectations about the event.
There’s nothing more awkward than showing up for a date over or under-dressed. Be clear to candidates about what your event entails. If this is a virtual interview event, make that clear in your marketing. Candidates are likely to be chatting with you on the go, during lunch breaks, or on their commutes, and may not be mentally or logistically prepared for an interview. Likewise, if it’s just a chat, be clear that it’s a chance to chat with recruiters about careers at your company so that candidates won’t be expecting a job offer on the spot.

Have a plan of how to respond.
I’ll spare you the number of times I got an online dating chat that started with, “U pretty” then quickly went nowhere when I replied. A great tool to develop for your recruiters is a response guide. Consider the questions candidates are most likely to ask and help recruiters give warm and consistent responses to these questions.

Don’t stay in the chat stage forever.
My biggest pet peeve about online dating was that we would never progress to an in-person date. Virtual chats are an opportunity to talk, with the goal of getting a candidate to a phone interview. Pro tip: Have a link to your calendar ready to send to candidates so that they can book times for phone interviews. There’s nothing a ‘candidate’ likes more than fast validation things are heading in the right direction.

Be yourself.
Every piece of communication from a company is a reflection of the company’s values and culture. The virtual chat should be no different. Let how you structure your chatting hours, what you say to candidates, and how you respond to their inquiries be a reflection of what it might be like if the candidate became an employee. It may be a casual pre-date, but it’s also a look into a potential future.

To discuss more ways of connecting with top candidates in compelling ways and effective channels, email us at: conversations@jwt.com

As a Media Director, Janice has been in the recruitment advertising business for over 10 years. By day, she leads the media team to develop strategic integrated media solutions for clients across all industries. By night, she wrangles a spirited Toddler who is never still and will not sleep and quests for the unicorn: a healthy and delicious meal both hubby and Toddler will eat.