Increasing Candidate Shelf-Life (Part 2 of 2)

Sep 11, 2008

In part 1 of this article, I wrote about why it is so important to keep our candidate database current, really current!

You can increase your candidate shelf-life through email, in particular, bur remember to limit your efforts. After all, sending a message that says, in so many words, “I want to know how to reach you!” can backfire when interpreted by a candidate as a self-serving ploy by a recruiter.

We can include several things in the email messages that give the right impression and add value to the candidate who receives it:

  • Articles that offer career and interview advice.
  • A simple newsletter that provides advice on career moves such as getting a promotion or raise.
  • Lists of Internet sites and hyper-links to them of interest to professionals.
  • A questionnaire on what they would like to see in working with a recruiter.
  • Resume tune-up tips.

How we manage the results and secondary efforts can determine the larger part of our success in keeping current with candidates.

My experience shows that about 70% of a database is comprised of “lost sheep” candidates. Sending out one email will often prove this true.

The second effort to find them includes sending another message to their alternative emails. Many Internet browsers and websites offer email locator programs that can prove helpful in identifying a second or third email address, or a candidate’s website. (My paper carrier even has one!)

A word of caution…sending email messages to our candidates at their place of employment runs the risk of it being reviewed by others and could jeopardize that candidate’s position or at minimum damage their superior’s opinion of their “loyalty.”

Exercise great due diligence in gaining your candidate’s permission and clearance to send any emails to their place of work. In the effort to locate and update a candidate in the database, it is advisable to call their last-known employer instead of sending an email.

The recommended frequency of contacting our candidates to maintain a current record is every 30-60 days. When we include valuable attachments or text helpful to each candidate on a professional and personal level, they will start looking for them and be the first to contact you and let you know they were missed.

At what point do we try other means? I believe in the rule of three: after the third email we make a few calls to former employers and contacts, perhaps references given to us. Sometimes we get lucky and find the person through old employer contacts. Sometimes we hit the delete key.

Finally, I am not suggesting that a recruiter to compromise valuable prime-time activities and efforts to handle this process.

Administrative assistance is your best bet. The recruiters and owners should review the results as they come in, advise on the next steps when another fails, and finally make the investigative calls to follow up on the ones that seemed to fall through the cracks.

Many secondary opportunities lie within those calls to recruit candidates, initiate client relationships, and discover new contacts.

Many candidates get lost in the shuffle. Some just disappear below our radar screens. As search practitioners, we can dramatically increase the number of candidates we retain in our active records by simply staying in touch.

A candidate, once recruited and subsequently lost through neglect, is an opportunity lost. Sending out emails, and following up on the few that slip between the cracks and assuring absolute currency in our proprietary databases will make us more competitive in the candidate-driven marketplace.

As our candidate pool shrinks at a historically high rate, we cannot allow any loss that is within the reach of practical effort. Keep what you find fresh and watch your network grow organically as a result.

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