Your Checklist for Successful Applicant Communication

Our guest author Patricia Kreuzburg shows you how to develop successful applicant communication or improve your current communication strategy.

Table of contents
  1. What is Applicant Communication?
  2. What has changed compared to the past?
  3. Your touchpoints with candidates
  4. Checklist for Successful Applicant Communication
  5. Conclusion

If you're looking for a job today, you usually have a lot of options. You can sort things out right from the start and only focus on the really appealing stuff. And what do you eliminate first? Exactly, employers or job ads that do not strike the right note, that do not appeal to you. Outdated wording, too long response times or no specific contact person - get rid of all that.

But what does that mean for us as employers and HR managers? It means that we should pay full attention to the issue of applicant communication. The job can be very attractive, the salary is great and the application process is extremely sophisticated. You need to master the 1 x 1 of communication with potential candidates to be able to show and use these benefits.

What all belongs to applicant communication and how do I communicate correctly as an employer? What dos and don'ts do I have to consider and what is particularly important to Generation Z in communication? First of all: don't panic. We will show you in this article how to establish successful applicant communication or how to examine and improve your current form of communication.

What is Applicant Communication?

Applicant communication includes every way in which you interact with potential applicants. From the job advert, through the company's Instagram account to the invitation to Video Call by mail - there are many touchpoints with candidates.

In all formats and forms of communication, it is about how you express yourself and whether you reach your target group with it. Because you mainly want one thing: to be perceived as an attractive company and ideally receive many qualified applications.

What you should definitely be aware of: Applications are not only in your inbox. Applicants often directly compare several Application Processes. Your communication here makes the difference. We're all tired of hearing the term, but we're in the "war for talents“.

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What has changed compared to the past?

You can't generalize, of course, but applicants today have the agony of choice when it comes to the right job during their job search. The times of getting 1,000 applications for one position and then choosing the most suitable candidates are long gone and apply only to a small number of employers. Instead, the tables have turned. Employers must stand out by offering something to job seekers. Responsibility, freedom, trust, salary and so on are extremely important, but even more important are the values of the company.

From the applicants' point of view this means:

  • Do I feel comfortable here?
  • Does the company stand for things that are important to me?
  • Does the team's thinking align with mine?

These things are communicated to the outside world and are reflected in career page content, job advertisements and the Socials. The way you address people, the communication in the job interview and similar things are indicators of how much I might feel at home here one day, whether I like going to work and have found my comfort zone.

Especially the Generation Z, characterized by a more conscious political interaction with society, values freedom, transparency, authenticity and appreciation. An inclusive genre-specific way of addressing people, open and transparent time indications for a response to an application can be decisive aspects to avoid being categorically sorted out.

And that's exactly why a consistent and watertight communication concept is so important. Applicant communication is not a fixed construct, but a puzzle that is made up of many parts and then produces an overall picture. The most important thing: All parts are coordinated and fit together. For example, if you use "you" on your career page and then "they" is used in the job advertisement, this causes confusion.

So you should think ahead and ask the following questions: 

  • Who is my target group? And how might they feel addressed?
  • How do I want to address my target group "applicants"? 
  • How important to me is a diverse approach? Do I include all people?
  • What are our corporate values and do I show them to the outside world?
  • How transparent do I want to keep my application process?
  • Can I name deadlines?
  • What promises can I make to a potential candidate?

Your touchpoints with candidates

Here are the most important touchpoints of companies with applicants, divided into the most important phases of the Candidate Journey, derived from Recruitment funnel according to Tracy Parsons (2016).




This phase is about being perceived as an employer. This is usually where the first point of contact takes place: people actively looking for a new professional challenge, wanting to find information about a company or being brought around to the idea of changing jobs can be reached here. You should therefore have a consistent Employer Branding Strategy and think about which platforms and through which channels you want to connect or to be noticed.

  • Homepage & About Us Page
  • Social Media Accounts (e.g., Instagram, LinkedIn)
  • Employer platforms (like kununu or glassdoor)
  • Active Search, Direct Approach
  • (Social) Ads


A potential candidate has found you or the job and wants to apply to you in the next step. These touchpoints are therefore in a more advanced phase. There is a real interest. Design the job advertisement catchy, informative and authentic. Also, the hurdles for applicants should be as low as possible. Clear indications of which documents are required and an intuitive application form are extremely helpful here. This way you can identify if the applicants fit your culture and at the same time make the process easier for them.

  • Job advertisement
  • Application form/ Job portal
  • Career Page

Phase 3: SELECT & HIRE

The person has already chosen you and sent the application to you. A clear indication of the next process is now important as well as personal support. In this phase there may be an exchange between recruiter and candidate for the first time.

  • Confirmation of receipt
  • Initial contact and appointment
  • (Online) Job Interviews 
  • Office Day, getting to know the team and trial workday
  • Offer and contract negotiation
  • Acceptance or rejection

Once you have identified all touchpoints, you can now think about what you want to communicate in which steps.

Checklist for Successful Applicant Communication

This checklist shows you the things you should pay attention to:

  • Keep to the schedule: Send automated acknowledgments of receipt, set reminders for responses.
  • Transparency: Make time references to the application process. When can applicants expect feedback? Escort the person (maybe even by phone) if it takes longer.
  • Appreciative treatment: A formulated "Thank you" in an acknowledgment of receipt, but also in the rejection shows that you have noticed the effort of the application. Here is a template for an appreciative rejection:

Hello (FIRST NAME), 

Thank you for your interest in (COMPANY NAME), we are really happy that you want to become part of the team.

We can imagine how much time and effort it takes to put together a meaningful application and we really appreciate that. That’s why we took a good amount of time to look over your documents and then decide how to proceed. Unfortunately, we have to tell you that we cannot continue the application process with you at this point. We’re sorry. This is not about right or wrong, but about our specific requirements for the position - in most cases another candidate just fitted a little better.

We hope for your understanding that we do not send possible reasons for rejection by mail.

We wish you all the best in your continued search and all the best on your further path. Keep an eye out for us and our job offers and sign up for our job newsletter (LINK TO THE NEWSLETTER), maybe it will be a match at a different time.

Best Regards


  • Authentic: Show real team photos on the career page and take your followers along in your real office everyday life on Instagram and TikTok.
  • Uniform: Candidates are consistently addressed informally. 
  • Adapt to the target group: You’re looking for marketing students, then you should offer the option of a video application. A master painter in a family business might prefer to apply by mail.
  • Personal: Invite the candidates to your office and include the existing team.
  • At eye level: Formulate the job advertisement as if you were talking to future colleagues.
  • Honest but sensitive: Name reasons for rejection after an application interview e.g., honestly related to the technical aspects, so that people can understand your decision. But do not get personal and stay appreciative.
  • Contact person: Provide the contact person with the necessary contact details for questions, this makes the whole thing more personal.
  • Short and snappy: Ask only the most important things in the application form, otherwise you could lose applicants in the process.
  • Get feedback: The most honest feedback is obtained through surveys among rejected candidates.


We conclude: Communication with applicants is essential, if not even the most important point of the entire Candidate Journey. Especially because job seekers today have such a wide choice. It is important to clearly position yourself as an employer in order to stand out from the crowd. Whether consciousness or unconscious perception of the Employer Brand or the communication with recruiting managers of a company – job seekers quickly understand whether a company presents itself authentically. Therefore, communication with applicants is a decisive factor.

Offering the obligatory fruit basket and a sector-average salary is no longer enough. Authenticity, transparency and appreciation are the real magnets for applicants and the job of Talent Management is to communicate these points at all touchpoints.

Especially Generation Z chooses new employers very consciously. Besides increasingly popular alternative working time models, a 40-hour week is taking a back seat and it is strongly considered whether the new work environment matches with their own values and beliefs. Again, it depends on how much the company engages with the target group and has adjusted to their needs. The offer to communicate via Whatsapp for a job advertisement, to ask questions or also to set up a date for the next video call, can already be a huge plus for this target group.

Within the application process, functions of HR tools can simplify the communication. Most Applicant Management Software like Personio, Haufe HR Services, Jobshop, Workwise and staffitpro offer email templates and automated messages, so no application is lost. In addition, most tools remind timely of open feedback. So, applicants do not have to wait for feedback in any phase of the application.

Thus, important aspects of applicant communication such as short response times, a sincere thank you for a received application, but also a personal and casual conversation at eye level in the job interview, authentic, even if not perfect insights into the daily work on TikTok or an honest and personal rejection can be decisive factors for someone feels appreciated and records the application process with you as a positive experience.

In this case, communication is just as important in different scenarios - regardless of whether it comes to a cooperation and the person thus has a perfect start in your company or it leads to a rejection. A positive experience through strong, appreciative and transparent applicant communication can also have long-term advantages. Maybe it did not come to a cooperation yet, but it could fit at a later time and the person keeps you and your company positively in mind and applies again. Or, also not a rare scenario: The person recommends the job in her network or to another person, who then is a perfect match. Taking a long-term perspective pays off.

Communication is key - whether short-term or long-term, your communication represents you and your company and can make the difference for applicants.

Patricia Kreuzburg
Patricia Kreuzburg

Seit 2021 ist Patricia in der Paid Social Agentur ADBAKER für den People & Culture Bereich zuständig. Sie verantwortet alle HR Topics wie Recruiting, Employer Branding, Culture Management und Training & Development. Die Psychologin brennt für New Work und setzt sich gegen veraltete Strukturen im Recruiting ein. Im Fokus ihrer Arbeit stehen immer die Bewerbenden und keine Formalitäten.

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