Do Your Candidates Know You Care?

February 11, 2013

When it comes to talent acquisition, as with many other things in life, timing is everything.

In my 13 years spent recruiting throughout Europe, I missed out on my fair share of candidates. There’s nothing more frustrating than losing the perfect hire because headcount plans aren’t cemented yet or a requisition isn’t approved.

I recently thought about the actions that drove higher engagement from candidates when I was in the trenches, and it came down to this: telling them I cared. Quite simply, nothing beats establishing an open, honest dialogue with your prospective candidates.

My favorite approach is having an exploratory conversation with a future hire even when there is no role. By introducing them to potential hiring managers on the grounds that ‘we’d love to talk with you about what’s happening in our business,’ so the relationship begins. The conversations are high level – we simply want to keep them engaged and interested in the business – and people love to talk about themselves, dig around to see if there’s chemistry. Suddenly that person is a warm lead in our pipeline – and our duty is to keep them warm for as long as needed, until the right role arises.

For example, I screened a candidate for our sales team in June last year. They were outstanding and sailed through every conversation, but we didn’t have a role for them at the time. As we built our headcount plan for 2013, we kept in touch and knew they were close to accepting another job. When the role was finally open, we brought them in quickly to meet with the hiring manager, accelerated the process and happily they accepted. Time in pipeline: six months. Time to hire: five days.

Think that’s good? I did, until I was soundly beaten by one of my colleagues. She also pipelined a candidate for a Campaign Management role, raised the req in the morning, made the offer in the afternoon and was verbally accepted later in the day. Time to hire: less than a day.

When was the last time you called or emailed a candidate to say, “We're still thinking of you”? Last week? Last month? How many times? I’ve seen first-hand how energized candidates become when I communicate with them openly, honestly and constructively. Don’t be a black hole to your candidates, whether active or passive. In the spirit of Valentine’s Week, let them know you care.

Want to show your candidates you care? Download our free whitepaper on best practices for pipelining talent.