What do you do when the ideal candidate slips through the net?

With so many CVs to sift through and so many candidates to interview on a daily basis, it’s all too easy to let the ideal applicant slip through the net. Most recruiters, despite their best intentions, will probably have overlooked a top performer at some point, only to lose them to a competitor.

Losing them online

Peter Burgess, managing director at Retail Human Resources consultancy, says the nature of online recruitment can make it hard for recruiters to pinpoint the best candidates.  “Job boards now generate huge responses so the temptation is often to skim read CVs, but that’s how the good candidates get missed,” he notes.

“Try and avoid automated response management questionnaires like the plague. These sorts of obstacles are a major cause of lost opportunity.”

Martin Dangerfield, senior manager, talent acquisition, EMEA at software company Symantec Corporation and regional director for the Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP), says that good candidate management is always tough, especially if you’re working on a large number of roles.

Cautionary tales

And Dangerfield has got his own “one that got away” tale.We have all let a candidate slip through at some point, the one that got away,” he admits. “For me it was when I was on the agency side of the fence and I didn’t engage with a candidate quick enough so he took a job elsewhere.  That taught me a valuable lesson and that once you have found a candidate you need to move quickly.”

Showing the candidate that you are genuinely enthusiastic and committed is also important, as Darren Hayman, director at Macmillan Davies Hodes (MDH) consultancy, learnt.

“We were using a recruitment to recruitment consultant (rec2rec) to hire a senior consultant for our executive resourcing team. Unfortunately, the rec2rec was extremely busy and not communicating with the candidate as frequently as we’d have liked. This led the candidate to believe we weren’t that serious and, as a result, she accepted another role with a competitor. We weren’t able to change her mind as she had already justified her decision.”

But MDH managed to turn it around and kept in touch with the candidate despite her decision, and six months on, she agreed to meet up with Hayman for a coffee. “We engaged with her over a two month period and she started with us a month after that. A happy ending but more costly in lost opportunities than getting it right first time.”

How to avoid missing out

So how can recruiters ensure that they don’t miss out on the best talent and overlook the ideal candidate? Is it all about treating them well or are there any other inside tips recruiters should follow?

“For me, it’s about a combination of good, relevant communication and doing what you say you will do,” says Dangerfield.  “Keep candidates up to date with new opportunities but make sure they know where you are in the process.”

“If the roles are still in the early stages, then say so.  The candidate will welcome the opportunity to feel they are first in but, if you are honest with them, will also accept that this is not a live opportunity for them today.  Try and put yourself in their shoes; what extra information can you share with them that is useful and relevant to them?”

Hayman says following through and maintaining a dialogue with the candidate is fundamental to keep them engaged. “If a candidate buys into the opportunity you are presenting as the ideal role for them, nine times out of ten they will hold off expending energy, time and emotion applying for lots of other vacancies,” he notes.

“But they are only likely to do this if they feel they have a chance of success. So you need to provide frequent communication and updates, outline the selection process, including the dates of the various steps and the likely date an offer will be made.”

Ultimately, however, regardless of how persuasive, open and communicative you are, it’s up to the candidate to decide whether they really want the job. Salary, location, potential colleagues and career prospects will all be contributing factors.  But a bit of charm  goes a long way and they will no doubt recommend you to colleagues and come back to you for their next role if you make a good impression.


1 Comment

  1. Shauna Fitzpatrick June 18, 2012 at 9:47 am

    All good advice and worth taking on board. Too many recruiters take their vital stakeholders, the candidates for granted.

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