How to get more from your candidates, by doing less

Written by the Editorial Team

by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins

A survey conducted by Harris Interactive found that 3 out of 5 job seekers never hear back from their recruiter after attending an interview. Recruiters – what on earth are you doing? Not only is this damaging to your brand as a recruiter-of-choice, you’re robbing yourselves of a candidate who:

a) may be the perfect fit for the next assignment you work on

b) may even become a potential client further down the line, or

c) could recommend you as their preferred agency to a friend or colleague who may be a perfect match for one of your assignments, which in turn will increase your billings.

So if you want to positively impact your sales targets and raise your recruiter brand value, what should you do? It’s a simple matter of ‘engagement.’

The Oxford English Dictionary (sorry, I am a writer after all) describes engagement as ‘the action of engaging or being engaged’ – straight forward enough, right? But judging by the Harris Interactive report, it would appear that only a minority of recruiters are actually engaging with their candidates. Yet candidate engagement is no different to visiting a high street coffee shop.

The coffee in Starbucks isn’t necessarily superior in taste or quality to that served by Cafe Nero. OK coffee affectionados may beg to differ, but the point is that most of us enjoy the coffee shop experience. It’s the same when it comes to recruitment – get the ‘experience’ element right for your ‘customers’ (yes, candidates are your customers) and you will increase the probability of getting repeat customers and word of mouth referrals.

So how does this manifest itself in practice, and what can recruiters do without it creating additional work for themselves?

Engage, support, act

If you truly have your candidates’ future career prospects at the heart of what you do, show them. The relationship with your candidates does not end after the interview process has ended – in some cases, it has only just begun:

  1. KIT: Retain the candidates’ details and send keep in touch (KIT) communications either via text or email – how is their job search progressing? Show that you care.
  2. New role, better suitability: Do you have a different role that has just landed on your desk which an unsuccessful candidate for a previous role may be better suited?
  3. Share and support: Help them prepare better for their next application – add them to your fortnightly or monthly candidate newsletters, share information that is relevant to them such as latest industry trends, details of new assignments that you are working on, career advice, interview hints and tips. [Interestingly, when I was the lead careers writer for Monster between 2006-2010, an estimated 40% of visitors to the site were actively seeking career advice and relevant industry information!]

Think mid- to long-term

Of course, any candidate engagement strategy should be aimed at both sets of candidates – those you successfully placed and those you did not. Here is a great example of how one agency effectively engages with their successfully placed candidates.

This search firm are experts in what they term ‘talent assurance’. Simply put, this is the process of retaining dialogue with all successfully placed candidates for up to 18 months after the start of their new role. In practice, they ensure that the candidate has not only fully adapted to their new role and has become fully integrated into the company, but also that they are meeting the performance related criteria set out at the start of their employment.

Like many search firms, this agency specialises in senior executive roles, but their key differentiator is that by retaining the agency-candidate relationship the candidate is supported at every stage of that all-important first 100+ days in a new role and is more likely to recommend said agency to former colleagues.

Moreover, from a client perspective, they benefit from having a new employee who is being supported both externally and internally which also reduces the risk of that candidate jumping ship if a better opportunity comes along.

Having an ongoing relationship with your candidates demonstrates that your genuinely wish to keep them at the forefront of your mind and that you will contact them should a new opportunity presents itself. This makes the candidate feel valued and you will retain a relationship which could yet result in a successful placement further down the line.

Engagement doesn’t end when an applicant has been rejected, and it certainly doesn’t end if an applicant has been successful either. Grow your talent base and keep them informed. Engage with them, support them, and keep the relationship ongoing. By helping applicants achieve their career aspirations, you will by default be helping to build your own recruitment brand both in a reputational and progressive sense.