SmartRecruiters Blog

Treat Candidates Like People, Not Reference Numbers

There is potential in every person you meet. What that potential is exactly varies, but the point is it’s there. When you’re in the business of recruiting, the relationships you’re able to maintain with candidates, consumers, whomever will likely make or break the chemistry of your team. And what does a team do? They build out your business. See the cycle here.

We all know relationship management as a strategy organizations use to engage their audience, whether that be consumers, or other businesses, the goal is the same – keep people invested. The scope of relationship management has expanded to hiring (“candidate relationship management”). With the “war for talent” raging on, employers must be hyper-diligent of the way they treat candidates and the relationships they are able to maintain after a candidate goes through the hiring process.

Now, it’s just not realistic to assume hiring managers will stay connected with every single person the meet, hire, or reject throughout the way. But it IS reasonable to assume that hiring managers won’t act like jerks (you may have heard of the Kelly Blazek story) and will strive to keep giving reasons as to why their office is a good place to work.

At SmartRecruiters we have a couple of examples of Relationship Management “wins.” Our SVP of Product, Maksim Ovsyanikov and our Director of SEO Paul Andre De Vera, were both hired a full two years after they first learned about the company. How’d that happen? Relationship Management, ladies & gentlemen. Sure, two years ago SmartRecruiters wasn’t the right place for them – at the time – and they chose to continue their jobs at & SuccessFactors. But CEO Jerome Ternynck didn’t let them get away that easily. For two years he stayed on their radar, improving the business and giving them more reasons to join. Two years later they join the team with more knowledge, more experience, and more investment. Why? SmartRecruiters invested in them.

The moral of the story is, the pants don’t always fit right away. Sometimes you have to do a little work. Just because a candidate was not a great fit right at that exact moment, doesn’t mean they won’t be later. By the same token if someone turns down a job offer it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep them in the mind for the future. As a hiring manager or recruiter you’ll be able to identify the REALLY good ones, that’s who you build a relationship with.

Do you really want to be the, “hit it and quit it,” kind of employer? Yes, I just said that. But the comparison is fair, and in case you missed it – that’s NOT the kind of recruiter or hiring manager you want to be. Sure you can’t run through all the candidates in the world, and build yourself a HUGE network. But if you treat candidates like one night stands, only contacting them once when you need something, there’s no relationship there and they won’t feel any sort of commitment to you. Who can blame them?

Build long lasting relationships. Treat candidates like people, not reference numbers. Have the decency to give them an answer if they don’t get the job. Keep them interested by sharing relevant materials. Blur the lines between business contact and friend. It’s like a relationship, right? I’ve made this comparison before, along with hundreds of other people. But the point is accepting a job offer or asking a candidate to join your team is like proposing marriage. You wouldn’t accept a marriage proposal after one day would you? No. There’s a courting period for both of you – and some are longer than others.

Lexie Forman-Ortiz

Lexie Forman-Ortiz is the Community Manager at SmartRecruiters.