The Candidate Experience: You’re Never Too Busy to Nurture

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Watering CanRecently, I spoke with an angry job seeker. Those who are searching for employment aren’t always the most cheerful in this economy, but his complaints really struck a chord with me. When he was first contacted by a local staffing firm, he had high hopes. The recruiter was friendly, eager to interview, and happy to call every few days with updates. After two weeks, however, communication grew sparse. He was passed from one contact, to another, to another, and it wasn’t long before he couldn’t reach anyone at all. All the jobs he had interviewed for, all the tests he had taken, and every minute he put into their hands felt like a complete waste.

It’s often said that nurturing candidates and creating a better candidate experience should be two of every recruiters’ top goals. Unfortunately, this advice is generally ignored. While not every recruiter or hiring manager is to blame, too many applicants are left with a bad taste in their mouth from a recruiter’s actions – or lack thereof.

Buzzwords aside, candidate experience is everything. Nurturing the talent you have is taking care of the assets you’ve collected and developed. From a recruiter’s perspective, nurturing your candidate stream makes good financial sense.

“You Don’t Create Your Employment Brand, Your Candidates And Employees Do”

–  @ChiHeadhunter 

If everyone knows how important the candidate experience is, why is it that so many applicants are still left unhappy? With 15 percent of job seekers reporting that the responsiveness of companies during the hiring process was a problem, it seems there are still disconnects between candidates and employers.

And people talk. In fact, 50 percent of candidates who have a bad hiring experience will tell their friends about it, leaving your brand to suffer the consequences of an overworked or ill-equipped recruiter. Start thinking of your candidate as a possible customer. They are your target market, your most successful brand ambassadors, and, in the end, who you want to keep around for future placement. A strong employer brand — and, in turn, consumer brand — should be reason No. 1 to keep candidates informed and up-to-date on their employment status.

“Candidates Just Want to Be Loved….Is That So Wrong?”


The good news is, if recruiters and hiring managers provide a positive candidate experience, 64 percent of candidates are likely to tell their friends and social media contacts about it. It’s important to remember that, if an applicant is not a fit for the first position you lead them to, there are other places they might fit better.

Even more, people are constantly evolving. Over the next few months, they may pick up new skills or certifications that make them easier to place. Nurturing your talent pool is all about building and maintaing a good repertoire with applicants.

Reason No. 2 to keep applicants in the loop: you don’t need to waste time and resources recruiting the same people twice. A simple automated script or updated ATS can be the difference between someone who wants to work for you in six months and someone who never wants to hear from you again — because they never heard from you at all.

What Can You Do?

  • Be friendly. Recruiters are busy, but so are your candidates. Do your very best to answer the phone with a positive attitude and smile in interviews, even if you’re having a rough day. When you’re friendly, even bad news doesn’t sound so bad.
  • Be transparent and don’t ignore questions or bad news. Most applicants are interested in either a new job, career change, or a job in general. You’re dealing with their livelihood. When questions aren’t answered or details are evaded, candidates take it seriously. Give them bad news, tell them how things are going, and when they win, you get the satisfaction of knowing you helped.
  • Ask for feedback. Recruiters have their very own product-testers when it comes to the candidate. Your role is to prepare the applicant for next steps in his or her job search. This often means that the applicant will be coming to you for guidance on interviews and the overall hiring process of the company or companies you’re placing for. When they finish an interview, get feedback on how it went and what they had to do. You will know how to better handle their job search, as well as what to expect of the company for future placements.

The job seeker I had spoken with was most unhappy about the abrupt change in mood. In the beginning, he had been told numerous times his test scores were very high and that many big, local companies were interested. Even a week after interviewing, he had not heard a single word from the company or recruiter. When he finally did speak to the recruiter, he was told in an offhanded manner that the position had been filled the week before.

This is bad business. Recruiters are very busy, which makes it very hard to juggle all their tasks, but without customers, there is no business; without job seekers, recruiters can’t fill positions.

What do you do to stay on track with your talent pool?

By Marissa Litty