A good candidate management strategy is at the very core of everything we do: It’s what ensures we nurture great relationships, build rich talent pools and make judgements that lead to the best possible candidate matches we can make.
But in the last few years, the secret to an effective candidate management strategy has changed as Millennials and Generation Z candidates slowly dominate the workforce. What candidates need and expect from recruiters is changing, so it's important to adapt your candidate management strategy to reflect this.
Here’s just some of the secrets to an effective candidate management strategy in 2022.
Earn candidate respect
With so much opportunity on the job market at the moment, candidates won’t talk to you unless you give them good reason to do so. And the often-overlooked secret to this is offering them full transparency on your roles.
If you’ve got a job on that doesn’t exactly fit what the candidate is looking for but you have reason to believe it would still be a great option for them – be clear about which of the candidate’s boxes it doesn’t tick as much as those it does and allow the candidate to make up their own mind about it.
Essentially, you should be seeing it as a case of you working for the candidate, meaning it’s never in your interest to dress up an opportunity to make it seem better suited to them than it actually is just to get them through the door. You’re on their side and want them to find an opportunity that will make them happy – make this clear and this will earn their respect.
Gaining respect within your candidate network is about knowing your niche so well that you can guide candidates towards a perfect opportunity - even if it’s not exactly what they’d originally pictured. But at the same time, it’s about listening to what the candidate wants rather than focusing on the boxes you think they tick and using your recruitment software to find companies and roles that are actually reflective of what they’re looking for.
You depend on your excellent candidate management strategy to ensure top talent comes back to you time and time again, and the only way this will happen is if you ditch the quick wins and focus on the long-term.
Speak to them in their language
The online marketing and advertising industry has created a world where, in order to be engaged by something, we expect to be spoken to in our own language. This is why authenticity is such a big focus for brands nowadays, and recruitment brands are no exception.
Essentially, if you’re not talking to candidates in their language, they won’t be convinced by anything you have to say. For example, tech-savvy candidates aren’t interested in being overwhelmed with large amounts of detail in job ads and the same goes for general recruiter-candidate communication too. They want you to get straight to the point and give them the information they need quick-sharp!
As you’ve probably noticed, both Millenials and Generation Z candidates (who combined now make up around half the candidate market) don’t like picking up the phone either – and here’s why.
And as we all know, candidates nowadays expect more creative, less intrusive methods of communication that they can reply to in their own time (for example, email, WhatsApps, messenger apps, etc.) instead of having to take calls on a recruiter’s clock.
However, this isn’t to say that every candidate wants to be communicated with in this way. A large slice of the candidate market are still happy to pick up the phone to a recruiter – it’s just that we need to recognise and respect that one size doesn’t always fit all – and simply ask how they’d like to keep in touch.
Keep candidates close(r)
Just because candidates don’t want you calling them ten times a day and clogging up their voicemail inbox with your messages of desperation, but this doesn’t mean they need any less attention from you.
If anything, we’re seeing that the next generation of candidates need more frequent contact for confirmation, encouragement and to be given the sense they’re progressing in order to stay engaged throughout the entire hiring process – particularly during the volatile notice period when, in reality, anything can happen.
Another point to consider regarding keeping your candidates close is that you’ll want to audit their digital footprint before sending their CV out to your clients.
Unlike their less tech-savvy predecessors, digital natives publish pretty much everything online, and this can certainly work against them in some cases. Which is why helping your candidates tidy up their digital footprint so it’s suitable for hiring managers’ screens should become part of every agency recruiter’s candidate management strategy.
Let them get to know you too
A good candidate management strategy isn’t just about getting to know your candidates, but about letting them get to know you better too.
If you’ve gotten to know a candidate well and your relationship is strong, it wouldn’t be out of the questions to send them a friend request on Facebook. Remember that you want to be building genuine relationships with candidates that will last for years so you can place them over and over again, and if you’re doing the job right, this wouldn’t be seen as a step too far.
And an important bonus of this is that you can use these close, positive relationships to open up your network and grow your candidate community through social proof.
We all know how important a good personal brand and positive reputation is in this industry, and if your candidates are having a good experience with you, this can quickly have a positive snowball effect.
For example, it’s a safe bet that an experienced UX Designer will have a solid network of other great UX Designers within their network, and when they see that you’re already connected with fellow designers who they respect, they’re much more likely to accept your connection request. And provided you continue to show them you’re one of the good guys in the recruitment industry, your network will go from strength to strength.
Focus on what’s important to them, not you
Wooing a candidate with the promise of a big fat wage packet doesn’t have the persuasive magic it once had (although there’s no denying it still helps). This is because whilst millennials were known as the job-hopper generation, the next generation are a lot more risk-averse and care more about things like personal development, learning opportunities and a clear indication that there’s opportunity to grow within a company than they do about hard cash. Therefore, it’s crucial you listen carefully to what’s important to your candidates and base your search on what you learn about them.
However, one thing we are seeing nowadays is that candidates can have such a strong idea about what they’re looking for in a role that they become completely blinkered and won’t open themselves up to the idea of anything outside their desired criteria when searching for work independently.
This is your opportunity as a recruiter to open their search up by bringing opportunities to the table that they might not have consider otherwise – but most importantly, providing justification for your suggestions based on what you’ve learned about them.
If you can clearly show that you’ve listened to what the candidate wants and have weighed up the options (for example, a position may offer a slightly lower salary than they were gunning for but you’ve discovered they offer free private healthcare and a wellness package), they should be open to listening.
Managing a candidate job offer is often the most challenging stage of the hiring process for a recruiter. And with so much opportunity for candidates to be led astray before start date, you need to get your job offer management strategy 100% nailed - and we've got an eBook to help you with just that...
Katie once headed up the Firefish blog and marketing team. She now works as a freelance copywriter and continues to contribute to our award-winning blog.