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5 Essential Components of a Successful Keep-Warm Strategy

Congratulations! Your organization has successfully attracted talented candidates to join your team. What’s next? With economic shifts, “quiet” behaviors, and candidates openly admitting to reneging on their accepted job offers, your goal is to keep candidates engaged and committed before the next cohort begins. 

The journey doesn’t end with extending an offer letter – it’s crucial to implement a holistic keep-warm strategy to ensure your candidates feel continually valued, engaged, and prepared for their upcoming roles. And, creating an effective keep-warm strategy requires thoughtful consideration of your candidates, your bandwidth, and coordination with other stakeholders. To make it easier, we discuss the five key components that every keep-warm strategy should include.

Make it *really* personal

Tailoring your keep-warm strategy starts with personalizing your information and communication. Try to go above and beyond a “one size fits all” approach and instead, provide relevant information based on role, office location, university, or persona. Get creative: reducing anxieties around the future is the goal here. Bring in stories from past interns or candidates, distribute success stories or testimonials, career trajectory information, career advice, calendar of events, etc. are just a few ideas to get you started. 

Leverage mentors 

Engaging other stakeholders, such as mentors, can be another avenue in building out an effective keep-warm strategy. At Abode, we believe how you introduce candidates and mentors to one another is important

For candidates, provide context into what a mentorship program is, why you’re including them in it, and why it’s important. Give candidates thought-starter questions to bring to their first meeting with their mentor to relieve the stress that might accompany meeting a mentor for the first time. And, make it goal oriented! Set goals for candidates for how many mentor-mentee interactions they should reach or strive for before they start on day 1. 

On the mentor side, establish a training program. Similar to candidates, provide context, information, and support to build buy-in and ensure a smooth experience. Ensure they know the purpose they are serving for your keep-warm program, strategies, and candidates. Prepare them with materials and background on who their mentees are and/or include having pre-set times (like office hours) when mentors are made available to reinforce the commitment to being a part of a mentorship program. 

Recommend skills or certifications

Encouraging skills or certifications for candidates based on their role isn’t necessarily a requirement for a keep-warm strategy, but can be another effective way to best prepare and set expectations for candidates. Google, LinkedIn, and sites like Coursera offer free courses and certifications for students and early-career candidates. Similar to point number one, your team should take time to strategize what these skills or certifications are and how/when to build them into your keep-warm plan. 

Build (the right type of) community 

We won’t sugarcoat it: it can be tough for teams from a bandwidth standpoint to create, engage, and manage a community of candidates. One common mistake we see is that teams will set up a page or group on LinkedIn, but won’t have an engagement or management strategy; leading to no communication. It’s a “tragedy of the commons” - candidates aren’t incentivized to speak out or engage with one another without proper planning and management. We’ve talked about the stress and anxieties candidates have leading up to day 1, and fostering community and connections is a huge part of that. To drive conversations between candidates, put yourself in their shoes. What would you want someone to share, prompt, or provide that would get you to start a conversation? Think about trivia, games, water cooler thought starters, surveys or polls, questions, or rich media to help candidates form their own relationships. 

Keep it fresh and exciting

Mixing up the type of information and content you’re sharing with candidates is another great way to maintain engagement during the time between offer and start date. If you host an event, follow up with a survey or pulse check to see what feedback you can generate. If you send a required task or document (like a background check), follow up with a “thank you” resource ( tips every new hire needs to know before they start). And, don’t be afraid to be up front and ask candidates what they want and need to feel successful! The goal of your keep warm strategy is to ensure candidates are being retained over a long period of time so understanding what candidates want should be your number one priority. Asking questions like – or incorporating these questions into your surveys or feedback – include, “What are you looking to learn from us before your first day?” or “What information are you hoping to receive from us before your first day?” And then, ensure you act on their feedback! Executing your candidate's wants and needs can be the difference between retaining them or losing them to another offer.

Key Takeaways

A well-executed keep-warm strategy goes beyond simply extending an offer letter. By implementing these five essential components – personalized communication, diverse resources, mentorship, building community, and incorporating specific skills or certifications – you can create a supportive and engaging experience for your new hires. Remember, a successful keep-warm strategy not only ensures a smooth transition into their new roles but also sets the foundation for a positive journey with your organization.

At Abode, we understand the importance of keeping your early-career talent engaged and motivated. Our platform provides tools and resources to help you design and implement an effective keep-warm strategy. Visit our website to learn more or schedule a free demo to see how we can support your talent management needs.

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