The Importance of Candidate Relationships


In the world of recruitment, your most valuable asset is your candidates. Without a vibrant talent pool of positive candidates, meeting your future talent needs becomes an expensive and time consuming chore. The relationships that you have with your candidates are paramount. It is these relationships that will help you to maintain a meaningful talent pool, ensuring that you can identify, develop, and attract the right talent, at the right time.

Whether you’re an agency or in-house recruiter, candidates are your source of revenue, either personally, or for your company. It is your candidates that offer you a competitive edge, and nurturing those relationships is the only way to ensure long-term success. With that in mind we’re going to explore some of the techniques you can use in your day-to-day practice to ensure your candidates feel well looked after.

Think like a marketer

In the battle to attract and nurture talent, it pays to think like a marketer. Before embarking on any marketing campaign, marketers define their target audience, and you should do the same. The first step marketers use is a technique called ‘profiling’. By assessing specific features, marketers build a better understanding of their target market, which in turn helps them to create tailored messaging.

Try outlining the factors below to create profiles of your ideal candidates.

  • Demographics – Consider their age range, location, qualifications, current occupation or employer, income level etc. History – Where have they worked in the past (ideal past employers)? What positions have they held (ideal past experience)?
  • Where do they hang out? – Industry events, social media sites, forums, websites, job boards etc.
  • Cultural fit – What factors are essential for cultural fit? Does your ideal candidate need to enjoy a fast-paced environment? Big or small teams? Should they be motivated by money or by flexibility?
  • Pain points – Why are candidates looking to change jobs? Do they want more money, more flexibility, better promotion prospects? Why would they consider leaving their current job for yours? How can you appeal to them? By clearly defining your ideal candidate you’ll be able to tailor your message to meet their needs.

Understanding your candidate journey

To help maintain positive candidate relationships is important to understand the candidate journey through their eyes. A candidate’s journey is all encompassing and should include everything from their first interaction, through to application, shortlisting, interview, and any resulting decision. It should also take into account any move from active to passive and vice-versa. The aim is to map each stage and understand how your candidate may be feeling, what they might need, and what they might be missing. This will help you to nurture them through each stage, and build a positive relationship.

Engage with your talent pools in a meaningful way

To attract the right talent, you need to communicate with them in a meaningful way. To do so you’ll need to engage them with innovative content. Vacancy alerts are just one part of the puzzle. Ideally, you want to create content that communicates your employer brand. What does it mean to work for you or the company you’re recruiting for? What is the culture like? What makes the company special? Give them an insight into what the company is doing right now. What are your goals and objectives? By making your engagement meaningful, you’ll be able to entice the right candidates to your brand, and in turn you’ll be able to sell them the dream of working for you.

Communicate consistently throughout the whole cycle

Consistent communication is often where recruiters fall down. The fast pace of recruitment, juggling multiple candidates, and recruiting for numerous roles, often makes it difficult for recruiters to maintain communication at each stage of the candidate journey. Fortunately, technology can help. If you have the right software in place, communication is easy. Automated responses or reminders to check-in with candidates can ensure that your candidates don’t drop off through the recruitment process. At idibu we have a ‘candidate check in tool’ that allows candidates to record their status and updates recruiters on where they are in the candidate journey. Are you using the right technology to nurture your candidate relationships?

Honesty is the best policy

Honesty is a trait that all candidates are looking for from recruiters. We recently produced a white paper based on the experiences of 250 candidates from around 100 recruitment agencies. When asked “if you have ever established a good relationship with a recruitment agency, what was it that made them stand out for you above their competitors?” 31.1% said honesty. Providing honest feedback helps to build trust, and trust is a key factor in any good relationship. Are you taking the time to be honest with your candidates?

Final thoughts

Building solid candidate relationships requires a combination of understanding, honest and consistent communication, interesting and innovative engagement, and careful timing. Technology can help to facilitate the process, but at the very heart of it, recruiters need to recognise the importance of candidate relationships in ensuring a competitive edge. By truly caring about your candidates, helping them to make the right choices, and supporting them in achieving their goals, you too will be rewarded with ongoing recruitment success.

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