There are two types of candidates for any given position. The first is the kind we normally think of: the ones who apply for the job directly, or know that they are looking for something along the same lines. These candidates are the low-hanging fruit of the recruiting world, as they step forward on their own or in response to a direct advertisement. Often they turn out to be excellent hires, matching well with the needs of their new employer and making their recruitment manager quite pleased indeed.
The second type of candidate is much more complex, and may not even know that they are a candidate. Many of them are highly qualified but are not actively looking for new positions. These passive candidates would often jump at the chance if the right position or opportunity comes along, but for that to happen, they need to already have an established relationship with a trusted recruiter.
Since they likely have work already, the second type of candidate might not hear about newly-opened positions that they may be qualified for. Only a highly connected – and more importantly, highly trusted – recruitment manager can get the attention of these candidates when a promising new position becomes available, and tactfully broach the topic of leaving their current employment situation.
This kind of trust can only come from well-maintained human relationships that develop over the long term. Listening and patience are crucial for creating and building relationships. They allow you to build a personal connection with people, even when there are no suitable employment matches you can offer to them.
Only that mutual feeling of trust and respect can produce positive results when you do have the right position to offer. The candidate may then apply for the job, or recommend a friend for the position, or even simply return to you a little later, when the time is right. Of course, the better you know each candidate, the more accurate you’ll be when the time does come to recommend them for a new position. We all have layers to our personality, and the more you can see of your candidates, the more confidently you can advise them on which path to take.
Employers who take it upon themselves to recruit their own staff will soon find that they have access only to the first type of candidate – the one who is actively looking. Moreover, they will have difficulty getting to know each candidate in depth through a short sequence of job interviews, as candidates under the spotlight tend to be at once both guarded and eager to please. It is quite possible to have stacks of CVs from interested candidates, and yet be no closer to choosing a person who will prove to have the right work ethic and be a comfortable fit within the company culture.
CVs are helpful, but they are unable to reveal crucial details. How serious is the candidate about making a long-term commitment to an employer? Are they sending their application only to you, or is your company just one of 100 others that they are contacting for work? Are they really as qualified as they seem, or do they just look good on paper?
The right recruiter will go above and beyond these limitations by carefully developing leads even when you are not hiring, so that when a position opens up, the recruiter will be able to call upon a group of carefully vetted candidates who share your values. At Grant Thornton, we find candidates who are actively engaged with the issues relevant to their professional experience. We then cultivate individual relationships with them, learn about their professional goals, stay in touch with them, update them on the hiring progress, and keep them in the loop at every stage. Candidates come to see us as their partner, working together to help find the right position for them.
This investment of time and energy is considerable, but it pays massive dividends. Employees are, after all, people – and they respond better over the long term when they are listened to on a personal level. Furthermore, by taking the time to learn their candidates’ true interests and motivations, recruiters can develop long-lasting professional relationships that give them access to a large pool of passive candidates. The more satisfied these candidates are, the more likely they are to refer other talented people to your recruitment service.
An atmosphere of trust, an expanded talent pool, a deep sense of identity and career goals – these elements all spring from the same source. They are the reason why the patient, human-centred approach to recruiting creates a win-win situation for everybody.