The Candidate Relationship: Old-School Tactics Made New Again

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Season 3, Episode 6:

The Candidate Relationship: Old School Tactics Made New Again

This week we talked not about candidate experience, but about candidate relationships. Two very different things, one of which isn’t talked about all that much.

So we took the opportunity to start the conversation with returning guest recruiter Melissa McLean.

What does candidate relationship mean to you?

As a major proponent for candidate relationship management, she jumped right in. “You have to treat it like any other relationship you have in your life. You want to keep in contact. If you didn’t call your friend for over a month and they were expecting a call, they’re probably going to be a little upset with you.”

Follow-up is key to managing a candidate relationship. In a world where technology bogs down human-human-interactions, Melissa said that “frequent communication will set you apart from the 15 other recruiters that are possibly calling that person.” A lot of the time when candidates don't make it through to an offer, Melissa will revisit them again down the line. If there's a gap in communication the first time around, it'll be tough to build a relationship moving forward.

Can you really use technology to build a relationship?

“I think you can in terms of LinkedIn, but that’s usually a starter.” A true relationship with a candidate should eventually leave social media, Melissa explains. “So many people are in that transactional phase of recruiting, but with the market now, it really doesn’t line up.”

How do you stand out on LinkedIn?

“Making sure that from the initial contact all the way through the offer stage, you’re constantly communicating with the candidate, so they know what’s going on.”

“You don’t have an initial phone screen, then say they’d be great for the role, submit them, and then they don’t hear from you for two weeks.” Not only does Melissa know this poor practice from her career in recruiting, but she’s been on the other end of the black hole. “One time I went on five interviews, and I didn’t hear back about an offer for three weeks, and I had to be the one to follow up.”

How much communication “too much” to catch up with a candidate?

Definitely not every day, she said, but it depends where you are in the process. “As long as the candidate is fully aware of the actual process that you’re going to take them through, how much you communicate can vary,” Melissa explained. It also depends on the candidate. “You have to get to know them and figure out, with each candidate, if it’s alright to give them a call.”

Some candidates don’t want to be talked to every other day or twice a week. “You learn that by having [phone or video] calls and communicating with the person… it gives you more credibility, too, if they can see you.” If the candidate is local, she suggests other recruiters take advantage of that and meet them in-person.

Host Steve Lowisz told us about a young recruiter who told a candidate to not to email or call, but to send a tweet, to maintain communication. That story led us to our next question.

Do you think the younger generation of recruiters truly understand relationship-building?

Her answer was simple: yes. “[Candidates] still want to know the person that could change their life… I don’t think tweeting someone is going to give you a whole lot of information about that person.”

However, the recruiting industry can be unpredictable. Some candidates might actually prefer contact via social media, but it's not a safe bet to assume every candidate will. So just be careful how often you steer away from traditional communication methods.

What advice would you give a new recruiter about candidate relationships?

Treat people how you want to be treated and don’t be afraid of open communication.

“When someone doesn’t show up for a job, or they turn down an offer, there’s probably something you missed and its related to some kind of communication drop at some point in the process.”

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Sam Sandler
Sam Sandler
Sam is a copywriter and strategist at Qualigence International. She enjoys exercising, eating pizza, and long walks through her Netflix queue.

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