Missing out on a top candidate

One that got away

With so many CVs to sift through and plenty of candidates to interview, it can be easy to accidentally let the ideal applicant slip through the net. Most recruiters, despite their best intentions, will probably have overlooked a top performer at some point, only to lose them to a competitor.

Peter Burgess, managing director at Retail Human Resources consultancy, says that receiving large numbers of applicants can make it hard for recruiters to pinpoint the best candidates. “The temptation is often to skim read CVs, but that’s how the good candidates get missed,” he notes. “Try and avoid automated response management questionnaires like the plague. These sorts of obstacles are a major cause of lost opportunity.”

Martin Dangerfield, senior manager, talent acquisition, EMEA at software company Symantec Corporation and regional director for the Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP), says that good candidate management is always tough, especially if you’re working on a large number of roles. We have all let a candidate slip through at some point, the one that got away,” he admits. “For me it was when I was on the agency side of the fence and I didn’t engage with a candidate quick enough so he took a job elsewhere. That taught me a valuable lesson and that once you have found a candidate you need to move quickly.”

Showing the candidate you are genuinely enthusiastic and committed is also important, as Darren Hayman, director at Macmillan Davies Hodes (MDH) consultancy, learnt. “We were using a recruitment to recruitment consultant (rec2rec) to hire a senior consultant for our executive resourcing team.

Unfortunately, the rec2rec was extremely busy and not communicating with the candidate as frequently as we’d have liked. This led the candidate to believe we weren’t that serious and, as a result, she accepted another role with a competitor. We weren’t able to change her mind as she had already justified her decision.”

MDH did keep in touch with the candidate though and six months on, she agreed to meet up with Hayman for a coffee. “We engaged with her over a two month period and she started with us a month after that. A happy ending but more costly than getting it right first time.”


How to find candidates

So how can recruiters ensure they don’t miss out on the best talent or overlook the ideal candidate? Is it all about treating them well or are there any other inside tips recruiters should follow?

“For me, it’s about a combination of good, relevant communication and doing what you say you will do,” says Dangerfield. “Keep candidates up to date with new opportunities but make sure they know where you are in the process. If the roles are still in the early stages, then say so. Try and put yourself in their shoes; what extra information can you share that is useful and relevant to them?”

Hayman says maintaining a dialogue with the candidate is also fundamental to keep them engaged. “If a candidate buys into the opportunity you are presenting as the ideal role for them, nine times out of ten they will hold off expending energy, time and emotion applying for other vacancies,” he notes.

“But they are only likely to do this if they feel they have a chance of success. So you need to provide frequent communication and updates, outline the selection process, including the dates of the various steps and the likely date an offer will be made.”

Ultimately, regardless of how persuasive, open and communicative you are, it’s up to the candidate to decide whether they really want the job. Salary, location, potential colleagues and career prospects will all be contributing factors. But a bit of charm goes a long way and they will no doubt recommend you to colleagues and come back to you for their next role if you make a good impression.


How to tell if you’re the dream candidate

  • You’ve been approached by several recruitment consultants before you’ve even announced that you’re available for work
  • Your mobile hasn’t stopped ringing since you started job hunting
  • Most of the recruitment consultants you’ve registered with know your CV off by heart
  • You’ve been offered pretty much every single job you’ve ever interviewed for
  • You’ve often been complemented on your composure and good, firm handshake
  • You’ve worked for a very similar organisation in a similar role
  • When you look at the job description, you tick every single box


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