Candidate Communication

What is critical to any successful recruitment transaction whether it’s contingency, search, in house, or any variation in between? Budgets to pay for the job being hired for, of course; good interviewers, without a doubt; but the fundamental component must be a supply of candidates. Without access to good quality candidates then no recruitment function can hope to successfully fill a hiring brief in a timely fashion.

It is surprising then, that one of the findings of our recent survey about attitudes to search firms suggested that candidates felt the firm’s interest in them declined sharply once the assignment was completed.  This was barely improved if the search was led by the employer company directly, where similar levels of ‘interest fatigue’ were noted.

Many in the traditional recruitment functions will say that this is unavoidable insofar as every search starts from scratch and the business model for a search firm, or for an in house team does not require or incentivise them to maintain currency with  candidates at all.  So let’s understand this model – a recruitment team spends time and money assembling a list of the finest available candidates for a specific  assignment and when that assignment is completed, they tear up those CVs and deliberately lose contact with the candidates? 

Most recruitment leaders will also argue that it’s not cost effective to maintain contact with a large number of people who are not likely, in the immediate future, to be suitable for an assignment and we have some sympathy with that argument.  In a typical candidate database there will inevitably be a range of people from the superstars to the water carriers and it is time consuming, and perhaps costly, to speak to them all on a regular basis.

Many in the HR profession certainly, advise us that they don't have time or interest in hearing from recruiters of any fashion, unless there is a specific role to discuss, and arguably this also changes the communication strategy for any savvy recruitment team.

But if you’re an employer doing your own recruitment, and you don’t maintain contact with candidates outside of the times you’re actually hiring, what message about your brand and its values does that send?

As the war for talent continues to rage, there is a growing awareness that managing, and improving, the candidate experience is the next best step to ensuring your firm gets hold of the best candidates first.  We all have anecdotal evidence of how poorly many firms manage this at the moment.  Almost everyone has had an inexplicable and sudden loss of contact from a recruiter, be it a third party or from an employer directly, at some time in their job hunting experience.

If managing candidates more effectively is going to be the new differentiator then how can recruiters manage this raised expectation and improve the candidate experience?  As you would expect there is no one answer and what works for one won’t necessarily work for another, but here are three things to start off:

  • Identify your stars - make sure you contact them on a regular basis.  Every recruitment team will be able to create a list of those candidates they expect to be able place as soon as a suitable assignment comes along, so make sure you keep in touch with phone calls (once a month should be enough) and meet up from time to time to keep faces fresh in the mind.

  • Keep in touch with your wider database - on a less regular basis, perhaps twice yearly, using a newsletter, a blog or some other general communication that has some meaning and relevance to the candidates. Include recruitment tips, advice on CV preparation, anything that shows a desire to support them during their job search.

  • Remember who people are –find some way of making sure you can identify your candidates when they contact you.  Nothing will generate more ‘loyalty’ than responding to a candidate as if you know them and have a genuine interest in what they’re doing. 

All candidates are potential clients for your company's products and/or services.  Losing their goodwill now could most certainly have an impact on your reputation and bottom line in the future.