Lessons from the Wolf Pack #11 Keeping Hold of Candidates

Fractal fish on a wavy blue background - groovy!

Lessons from the Wolf Pack is an ongoing series of recruitment advice articles taken from, or inspired by, situations and events observed during our phone coaching sessions with recruitment consultants making real, live calls to win business and find candidates. This is advice directly from the recruitment front lines!

Lessons from the Wolf Pack #11

Keeping Hold of Candidates

Candidates can be slippery fish. Just when you think you’ve landed one they slip from between your fingers and dart off out of reach.

So what can you do about it?

Here are a handful of quick tips:

Treat them like people

And yes this applies to contract candidates as well. Too many consultants are still treating them like they are some form of poker chips that they can gamble around with.

If you want to gain traction with candidates then treat them as people. Discuss how they are feeling about their job search, find out what their actual aspirations are, what they are afraid of, what they are hopeful about.

The more deeply you talk with, listen to, and understand a candidate's aspirations, hopes and fears relating to their job search then the stronger the relationship you will have with them.

You will also be differentiating yourself from those CV-shuffling recruiters who don’t care one bit about their candidates. And that’s going to lead to you establishing a much more positive reputation in the market place. In the long term treating candidates like people is an excellent way to win clients.

Understand their pressures

Many people have significant others in their lives – wives, husbands, children and even pets can be reasons for candidates not to take job offers. Make sure that you understand the full family that your candidate lives within.

The reality is that unless the candidate is entirely alone then you are actually dealing with a decision making unit when it comes to accepting the job offer.

Very few married people are going to accept a job offer without talking it through with their other half and that ‘talking it through’ is not going to be a casual conversation but rather a full on discussion of pro’s and con’s.

Whilst you can’t be in that conversation if you know about their situation you can have discussed things with the candidate (and even the partner in some situations) prior to the day they talk about the offer. Which means you can set things up positively to hopefully influence the outcome of the discussion.

Maintain regular contact

The quality of your relationship is going to be enhanced when you make regular contact with the candidate. Too many consultants wait until the back end of the recruitment process before doing this. Cultivate the habit of communicating with your active candidates once a week (at least).

And by active candidates I am meaning any candidate who is actively involved in a recruitment process with a client of yours – in other words – any candidate who has an interview arranged – whether first, second or later.

Not only will you establish better relations with that specific candidate but in addition you are much more likely to spot any change of heart or weakening of interest in the candidate when you have been in regular contact rather than when you contact them sporadically.

The earlier you are warned the sooner you can do something to fix the situation – whether that is bringing in another candidate or re-igniting the enthusiasm of the first one!

Give them free advice

You have a candidate on one side, a client on the other and you, the recruitment professional are in the middle. You are in an  ideal situation to offer recruitment, interview and CV advice to both parties. For the purposes of this article let’s focus on candidates - … what could you offer them free advice on?

Well it’s obvious – their CV, their LinkedIn profile, interview tips, job hunting generally … the list goes on. The real trick when it comes to building rapport with your candidates is to offer them that advice before it benefits you.

In other words when you first speak with a candidate and you can see that their CV could do with a bit of a reformat then tell them at the time – whether or not you are going to put them forward to an interview.

That way you are selflessly helping them and if you then subsequently do need to submit their CV they will remember you as the person who helped them before. (And they will remember because you are going to ask them for that new well formatted CV!)

In Summary

Now the above tips are fairly easy to understand and I would wager that most, if not all, recruiters will know to apply them but it’s actually doing it that I think is the issue. What all of the above techniques have in common is that they take time. But I think that it’s time well spent.

Time spent cultivating stronger relations with candidates earlier on will save you time having to find replacement candidates when the unengaged ones slip through your fingers later on!

Also comments, debate and discussion are always welcome. Share your views below!

Until next time; be successful!

Stephen Hart
Development Specialist, Edenchanges.com
Image credit: Created by Edenchanges from artwork by Gem Hart who was recently made redundant due to the collapse of a company. She is looking for work and can be contacted via the above link. She's based in the UK and looking for retail opportunities and also does freelance graphic work.


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