Building meaningful relationships with candidates is essential to effective sourcing and recruitment, regardless of the roles or organizations involved. Earning a candidate’s trust and confidence will give you the ability to more effectively manage them through your hiring pipeline. Even if things don’t work out for a given role, a quality relationship ensures there are more opportunities in the future.

Relationship building involves a wide variety of factors, but one that should not be neglected is personal contact. Which begs the question – how often should you get in touch with a candidate? Do it too much and you could be a nuisance, or worse, a spammer.

Adding value

Before even considering the volume of contact that is needed you should first take the time to consider the actual quality of the contact you are providing. Your main focus should be on adding value, not on ticking a box that says you’ve sent someone an email. By asking yourself how you can ensure your communication provides added value you’ll be in a better position to build quality relationships with candidates.

There are several ways you can create added value. Here are a few:

Status Updates – Don’t leave candidates in the dark. Even just telling them things are still in process and that you don’t have news can be useful.

Recruitment Process Details – Be as transparent about the recruitment process as possible. Sometimes this involves telling someone how long things take, other times this might involve giving a candidate the information she needs to prepare for an interview. Such information is incredibly useful to candidates.

Check-ins – Checking in with candidates after an interview, call, test, etc. should be a no brainer, but a lot of recruiters forget to do it.

Newsletters – Monthly company newsletters can be a good way of communicating your employer brand and updating candidates on the different job opportunities available to them.

Keep it Human

The #BeHuman hashtag is growing increasingly popular amongst recruiters for a good reason – to many of us are forgetting! It can be so easy to use templates and/or automated messages, but it causes us to forget that we are dealing with individual human beings here. The more we can do to personalize our messages, to be human ourselves and treat our candidates that way, the better our relationships will be and the better our results.

Active vs Passive Candidates

The nature and frequency of communication with active versus passive candidates can differ significantly. Active candidates are more likely to be okay with frequent communication as they are the ones who initiated contact in the first place. With them you’re not as likely to run the risk of being annoying if you send a lot of emails and updates.

Passive candidates on the other hand are already “spam averse.” This is to say that they probably already receive such a high volume of emails from recruiters that too much contact from you will hurt rather than help your cause. Once a candidate has really engaged with you regular emails are a good way to go, but prior to that be cautious.

Communication Guidelines

Here are some general rules you can follow in your communication with candidates:

Three Strikes – With passive candidates don’t contact them more than three times. If they haven’t responded after your first two attempts a third attempt should be done only after careful consideration. Some recruiters will say that it doesn’t matter, that you need to do whatever it takes to close the deal. The problem with this mentality is that it is very shortsighted. Just because a candidate isn’t ready now doesn’t mean she won’t be open to talking later. Furthermore, some of them even publish lists of bad recruiters online!

Weekly Updates – For active candidates who are in your pipeline send weekly updates as a way of keeping them in the loop. Even telling them you don’t have any news is useful simply because it makes it clear you haven’t forgotten them.

Phone > Email – Try using the phone more often. We’ve become overly reliant on email, which can make communication less personal.
Post Rejection Follow-Up – Whether it was a candidate you rejected or a candidate who rejected you, following up with them once or twice a year can help you to stay in touch and keep them in your pipeline for opportunities down the road.

As you can see, communication outside of updates and follow-ups is more about the quality of your messages than the quantity. Keep people up to date, #BeHuman, and add value and you’ll find that candidates respond pretty well.

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