Every recruiter’s been there: you’ve found the elusive, mythical ‘perfect’ candidate, and the interview goes great, but when it comes time to accept an offer, your ‘perfect’ candidate isn’t interested.
Or maybe you couldn’t afford them at the time. Or maybe you’re more familiar with this scenario: you had the best candidate right there in front of you, but you didn’t realize it soon enough, and they got away from you. Or maybe it’s from your own lapse in judgment; sometimes the second or third or fourth best candidate at the time was actually – in retrospect – the best candidate.
That’s okay. Like I said, we’ve all been there. There’s no need to get down on yourself, but there are some things you can do to make sure these ‘candidates that got away’ aren’t ever really gone for good.
Using these steps you can nurture relationships and make sure that even though the relationship didn’t work out the first time, you’ll get a second chance.
Offer Candidate Feedback
Keeping feedback channels open between you and the candidate from the very beginning of the relationship builds trust and can keep the surprises to a minimum. Not to mention, it both helps them become a more marketable talent and better prepares them to perform well in future interviews for positions you may have on the horizon. Finally, by forcing yourself to think through feedback, you’ll know more about what the perfect candidate should be.
Candidate feedback will make both you and the candidate better, ensure the relationship will be more fruitful, and guarantee that if the first position doesn’t work out, you’ll both be ready for the next opportunity.
Create Opportunity for Future Communication
The simplest and most effective way to maintain relationships with the top candidates that got away is staying in touch. Candidates need to know that even if the first opportunity didn’t work out, you’re still aware of how valuable their skill set is and that they are, in fact, a top candidate. While connecting on social networks is nice, complimentary, and often necessary, keeping the lines of communication open requires more than a friend request.
Touch points with your pool of top candidates can be as easy as a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter and consistently engaging on social media. And if you really want to take it to the next level, don’t forget about the personal email or phone call just to catch up. It’s about staying top of mind while not appearing needy. If you’re more of an offline person, you can also consider integrating top talent into your more personal activities such as happy hours, the gym, networking events, and volunteering events.
Stay Personal and Engaged
There will be particular candidates that got away (likely the ones that stung the most) that you’ll want to keep a more personal, engaged relationship with.
When we come across these ‘as-close-to-perfect-as-possible’ candidates, but end up not hiring them, it’s important to show that you recognize the value of the candidate. Keep tabs on how they add value to the company they do end up working with. Stay personally engaged with their career journey. Like their status updates. Invite them to your events. Pick up the phone and catch up.
When recruiters do this effectively, they can change the nature of their relationship with the top echelon of their candidates. Respect talent like friends, and they’ll be willing to work with you, creating new opportunities for you and, most importantly, the company.
The Most Important Point
The ‘candidate that got away’ is a heartbreak every recruiter knows too well, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Sometimes you didn’t recognize the talent in the room, and other times, you can’t agree to terms. You win and you lose, but either way, you have to set yourself to fight another day. That’s where talent nurturing comes in. The most important part of nurturing the relationships with these candidates is letting them know that you recognize their value and are motivated to work together.