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Nine Ways your Staffing Firm Can Give Top Candidates the Royal Treatment

Demanding times demand smarter tactics. Maximize every touch with top candidates to improve your talent matchmaking.

Nine Ways your Staffing Firm Can Give Top Candidates the Royal Treatment

By: John Rossheim

As your staffing firm forges into 2018 and the need for new talent accelerates, you may be haunted by the ghosts of hiring past (like the record 6 million American jobs that needed filling during most months of 2017). And then there are all those open reqs that may be easy to get—but will definitely be hard to fill. (The Congressional Budget Office has projected that any remaining slack in the labor market will disappear in 2018.)

For guidance on how to close sales in today's scrunchy-tight talent market, Monster checked in with some top recruiters. Their advice on how to hook top talent boiled down to one essential concept: Give quality candidates the royal treatment. 

Use these nine tactics in the months ahead to tack your way to success. 

Pour it on for that first candidate contact. You won’t win if you don't even begin giving a candidate a great experience until she’s selected as a finalist. 

“Good candidates are receiving multiple offers and counteroffers,” says Scott Samuels, CEO of search firm Horizon Hospitality. “More and more, something comes up and a candidate declines the offer. We have to be smarter on how we approach the process on day 1 to avoid problems on day 30.” 

Making immediate personal contact—say, a quick phone call—with all candidates who submit promising resumes is one way to get the recruitment experience off to a good start.

Set a schedule of touch points for all candidates. Create a template for keeping in touch with candidates on a regular schedule. Make sure the content of these brief communications is genuine and meaningful to the candidate, not “just checking in.” 

Consider sending the candidate a map of the company’s campus, says Laura Handrick, an HR analyst with FitSmallBusiness, and point out some of its unique offerings. Another day, share information on the company’s tuition reimbursement program, or another benefit that aligns with the candidate’s expressed interests. 

Don’t be that recruiter who goes silent. Whether justified or not, many candidates believe that recruiters will only be in touch when their own bottom line is at stake. “Candidates’ expectation is that we’re not going to get back to them, we’re going to leave them hanging,” says Brady. “They’re pleasantly surprised with how we treat them. Even if candidates don’t get the job, we make them feel respected.” And that helps build long-term loyalty.

Always customize the candidate experience. “Candidates want a personalized experience,” says Natasha Stough, Americas director of campus recruiting at EY, formerly Ernst & Young. “We’re hiring close to 8,500 students in 2018, so it’s challenging to personalize, but that’s what this generation expects. We’ve found that we do need to work with each candidate and tap into what’s important to them.” Asking candidates about their own professional development goals is one way to get personal.

Show clients how to turn an interview into a compelling conversation. It’s a mistake for a recruiter or her clients to treat an interview as an administrative transaction rather than a genuine conversation, according to Gene Brady, director in the automotive practice at executive recruiter SCN. So see if you can find a way to demonstrate to the client how to fully engage candidates in a conversation that addresses everyone’s goals.

Build cultural bridges for distant candidates. “If your candidate is relocating, send them a care package,” suggests John Nykolaiszyn, director of the Florida International University College of Business’ Career Management Services. “Include several items that are only available locally—craft beer, craft roasted coffee, local honey—as well as the local Sunday newspaper and arts paper.”

Bring along clients who hesitate. A client who drags out hiring decisions presents a delicate situation, says Brady. “If I don’t get feedback, I will professionally be persistent, spell out in email how long the delay has been, point out why the person is a good candidate. If they don’t get back to me quickly, I have a phone call with the client.”

Explain to young candidates how recruitment works. Inexperienced candidates may not at first appreciate the fundamental relationships among recruiters, clients and candidates. “Sometimes candidates have a misperception,” says Samuels. “I’m seeing more candidates who expect you to find them a job.” So let them know that client companies—or for internal recruiters, hiring managers--are recruiters’ paying customers.

Break out of the resume-first mold. With highly qualified, hard-to-get talent, don't reduce the recruitment process to an exercise in hoop-jumping. Consider starting the experience with one-to-one quality time. “The principal with the MarCom Group suggested that we get together for lunch,” says John Bersentes, vice president client strategy at the marketing firm. “He basically asked me, ‘Hey, what is it you really want to do?’ That got me thinking.”

Be forthright about the timeline to offer. Explain the timing of all key steps in the recruitment process, and then explain it again. EY’s career site states that “we usually make a decision within two weeks of the second interview.”

The prospect of waiting 14 days will fail to meet the expectations of many candidates, especially Gen Zers. “We do try to move that timing up as much as possible,” says Stough. “And we tell them, ‘If you’ve got another deadline with another company, let us know.’ ”