Should recruiters keep in touch with employed candidates?
When lots of candidates apply for jobs through a recruitment consultancy, sometimes it can feel like a never-ending production line.
You grill a load of them during the interview process, put them forward to your client if you deem them suitable, and if they fail to make it through the interview process – and let’s face it, these days candidates have plenty of competition – they start over again with another suitable vacancy, until they finally land a job.
Once the applicant is in work, they can scan the horizon for recruitment consultants, but are unlikely to be able to spot any. Once they’ve been placed, you’re off working for another candidate. After weeks of them playing a key part in your waking hours, poof, and they’re gone.
So how would you do you think employed candidates would feel if you wanted to stay in contact, to make sure they were settling into their new roles? This is something more and more recruitment consultants are looking to do.
Should you keep in touch?
“I'd be happy for a recruitment consultant to stay in touch,” says journalist Justin Stevens. “I think it's good to keep up with how people are doing in a job you helped place them in. Not many do this apparently.”
However, editor Daney Parker is not so sure.
“I have been contacted by recruitment consultants before, but all they've been interested in is making sure I remain in the job long enough for them to get their commission,” she says.
“What's the point of them staying in touch? It can hardly be to motivate you to stay with the same company. After all, they can only benefit from a long-term relationship with you if you keep using them to get new jobs.”
According to Ian Whiteling, director at web marketing business THREE-SIXTY, it all depends on their motivation and the level of contact.
“I’d be delighted if a recruitment consultant was keeping in touch to find out how the job was going. I’d also be happy for them to keep me up to date with new job opportunities. However, I think that each service has its own appropriate time frame,” he says.
“For example, for the first year of your placement, the recruitment consultant should contact you every couple of months to enquire how the job is going. This is reassuring for the candidate, who may be able to ask some important questions that help them settle into their new position.”
It’s also beneficial to you, as you can gain a deeper insight into the candidate with respect to how they take to the role and their building of relationships within the new business, which can be useful when working with them again in the future.
Being respectful to the employers
“After the first year of employment,” Whiteling continues, “I would then find it acceptable for a recruitment consultant to begin sending through potential job opportunities for me to consider. However, I doubt my employer would be happy about this, so clearly the recruitment consultant would have to tread very carefully.”
Recruitment consultant Judith Armitage agrees, saying: “We do have to be careful. Candidates can be an excellent source of useful constructive feedback, industry/company updates and referrals. But it has got to be a two-way relationship. You have to give as much as you gain. You must also not poach previously placed candidates – it is ok for them to come back to you for their job search, but worth getting them to sign to say they approached you.”
As far as Emy Rumble-Mettle, managing director at recruitment agency Lipton Fleming, is concerned, placing people in jobs then taking them back out of those jobs is the biggest cardinal sin in recruitment. “If you are staying in touch because there is an ulterior motive, then best not to bother as your career won't last long in recruitment,” she warns.
That said, some recruitment consultants are increasingly coming round to seeing the real business benefits of maintaining contact with placed candidates in a purely ethical way.
“It’s essential,” asserts Lucy Salmon, direct and digital marketing senior consultant at Major Players. “We want to make sure that we’ve made the right placement and we’re still providing a service so must stay in touch with both the candidate and the client. "
"The client relationship will continue, as sooner or later they will be looking to hire again. Similarly with the candidate, they will eventually want another job or perhaps become the hirer themselves. Candidates turn into clients and staying in touch is all part of providing a good service."
How should you keep in touch?
“Over the phone is the best way to keep in touch after a placement as it’s more personal than email and gives you a realistic idea of how they are getting along,” continues Salmon. “The best candidates prefer to be contacted regularly, but not too frequently. As long as they know that you care and can contact you if they want, then they are happy.”
Rumble-Mettle believes that social media is also key to maintaining contact with candidates.
“It’s a massive part of our business, so both our clients and candidates have that 24-hour ability to communicate with us,” she explains. “It's not about finding people jobs; it’s about adding value to someone’s career and seeing that journey travelled.
“With social media, the choice is the candidate’s. If they choose to engage in your community then they are passively in touch with you, and if and when they need you, you are just a click of a button away.”
So as long as the correct ethical balance is maintained, it seems that both candidates and client companies can gain from recruitment consultants continuing to be part of their lives once the vacancy has been filled. But what do you think?