Candidate Control is about as basic as you get with recruiting; right behind picking up the phone and dialing. But time and time again I see it as a best practice that is totally ignored. If you are going to recruit the top talent, you better be respected by that group and LISTEN to them.
Getting Roundkicked into Yesterday
This includes knowing what your candidate knows. I work on the corporate side, so if I tell you as an agency recruiter that I want to speak with a candidate you sent me, they better be available. When you call me back two hours later telling me the candidate is either not interested in the initial call or has already taken another position, that tells me you are not closing your candidates and are name sourcing. Hey, I've been there, "Candidate Joe, I have excited news I just got you an interview with TLA firm. Can you speak with them tomorrow?" Candidate Joe: "I actual took an offer yesterday with another TLA firm. Sorry." Ouch. It sucks when you miss a great candidate's window, but it is even worse when you don't know that you missed it. Please follow up and KNOW YOUR CANDIDATES, even those "passive" candidates will take a better job at the drop of a hat without warning - if you found them someone else can too.
Guns Don't Kill People, Chuck Norris Kills People
But just getting through the interview process doesn't mean you are home free. "Candidate Joe, excellent news, the TLA Firm is prepared to make an offer - they are willing to pay you (15% more than current salary)." Candidate Joe: "Gee, thanks, but once I started calculating my stock options, matching 401K, and paid benefits, that would actually be a pay cut for me. Plus, I'm not that excited about the travel. I think I am going to have to pass." That conversation is like being shot. For a moment your world is over, but is it the candidates fault or yours? Even if you get a number that the candidate will accept, the relationship is tainted between you and your client that was looking for you to give them the number the candidate needs. We made the mistake of meeting the candidate's demands once and renegotiating - the candidate didn't make it 3 months. Somehow it felt very dirty and the whole employment started off lack-luster on both sides.
Knowing is Half the Battle
Not every candidate can be totally controlled, but you better have a relationship with them that at least has them informing you about the decision making process. You need to have insider information on your candidates, you need to know the likelihood of an offer acceptance, the type of jobs they are interested, what are the key offer factors, what is the expected timeframe, how active the search is. The funny thing is they are more than happy to share this information with even the corporate recruiter, so listen when they talk and don’t be blinded by dollar signs and grandeur. And remember: If you don't know this information you haven't recruited them, they have recruited you.