Recently, I was thinking about the spectrum of relationships that recruiters must forge each day, week, month, year with candidates and candidate prospects.   This thought process prompted me to recall a commercial campaign that AT&T launched in the late 1970’s to promote long-distance calling, as well as position itself as a key ingredient of everyday American life.  The campaign was entitled, “Reach Out And Touch Someone,” and contained snippets of Americana, accompanied by a really upbeat and oddly catchy jingle.

Now that was a charming little video, wasn’t it?
This old AT&T advertising campaign reminded me of the importance of staying in touch with people to whom we assign value. In recruiting, we spend so many hours creating relationships, but how well do we fare with respect to sustaining relationships with candidates once a position has been filled, or our talent acquisition priorities have shifted?

In my last blog post, I talked about Dunbar’s Number and social media.In brief, Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Oxford University, developed a theory in the 1990’s dubbed “Dunbar’s Number,” in which he argued that most people could only sustain approximately 150 (or so) close relationships with other people. Dunbar argues that this is still true today, even with social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. For recruiters, whose basic vocation is grounded in creating relationships, this poses a potentially significant problem. Maintaining 150+ personal relationships is one thing, but how do we go about sustaining hundreds or thousands of professional acquaintances and/or relationships?

Several weeks ago, while facilitating my firm’s DRIP Recruitment Training Series for a New England-based client company, I led a discussion on various approaches through which we might more meaningfully engage candidate prospects via what I believe are substantially more intriguing, and – I would argue – more effective introductory voicemail and email messages.(But that’s not what I wanted to write about here, so perhaps that’s a blog posting for another day).

Anyway, this conversation morphed into a peripheral discussion on email, wherein I cited my belief that email provides a beautiful communications platform that is especially useful for sustaining candidate relationships over the course of time.  As the Rolling Stones’ song suggests, “time waits for no one,” particularly when it comes to preserving or extending candidate relationships. The passage of time naturally makes most memories a bit more distant. Recruiters who don’t regularly engage their own talent networks ultimately fade away in the minds of capable candidates. As the saying goes, “out of sight – out of mind.”

I can’t speak for everyone, but I am bothered by this notion of fading away, because it completely negates my investment of time, energy, and effort put forth in building rapport and establishing candidate relationships. Thus, the importance of figuring out a way to keep in touch that is practical and that won’t consume too much time.

In my next blog posting, I’ll try to map out some of the specific messages and approaches that I’ve used to stay in touch with candidate prospects. For now, however, you might want to compile a mental list that embodies the numerous prospects, candidates, and former candidates that you’ve engaged over the years, and who you should be trying to re-engage. More to come!

Wishing you ongoing recruiting success!

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