You don’t need a candidate care department. You need a candidate care ethos.

‘Candidate care’ in recruitment.

“It’s like inviting 100 people to a party at your house and then leaving 95 of them outside in the rain”

‘Candidate care’ in our crazy industry normally means one of two things. Either it’s a series of platitudes and clichés on recruiter websites, or it is part of a grand ‘program’ including newsletters, birthday cards, movie tickets and other marketing generated activities that, while good, are not personal or engaging in any meaningful way.

The fact is that our industry is predisposed to disappoint candidates. That’s right. Our model is set up to piss people off. Think about it. What percentage of talent that approach you, or you interview, do you actually place? Lower than 10% I bet. So that means a lot of people who won’t get what they want from you.

The big ‘secret’ of candidate care is this. Find them a job or not, candidates will remember how you made them feel, long after they remember what you gave them, or even said to them.

So it’s critical to understand and believe that candidate care is a recruiter responsibility, not a corporate one.

You don’t need a candidate care department. You need a candidate care ethos.

So here is your 7-point candidate-care action plan. For you, on the desk. To do today. And every day. (Oh and just for fun, give yourself a score out of 10 for each measure. Bet you don’t even get > 35/70).

  1. Respond! The biggest criticism of our industry. We don’t respond. To resumés, to tweets, to applications on our website, to phone calls. First goal. Get back to everyone… fast.
  2. Don’t keep them waiting. In reception. For news. For your call. You know what I mean.
  3. Manage expectations. Most of the dissatisfaction we cause with talent is our own fault. We fail to manage expectations. Don’t say “When I get a cool job in for you I will give you a call”. That’s dumb. The candidate just hears “I will give you a call”. And you have set up the scene for disappointment. Tell the candidate you will call if you have a great job, and that given the current market that’s unlikely – but that they should call you once a week for an update, if that’s what they want.
  4. Return phone calls. I know you don’t. As the guy from the shoe company said, ‘Just do it’.
  5. Tell them the bad news. Don’t be a coward. Don’t be selfish. A candidate wants to know they have been unsuccessful if that is the case. Don’t leave them hanging. Not only after an interview. Also after you have told the candidate you will be representing her somewhere. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, telling a candidate there is no news is news to the candidate.
  6. Shut up and listen a little. Yes, be slow to understand. What the candidate wants and thinks. You already know what you want and think.
  7. Give a little – thanks, advice, encouragement, respect.

Candidate care. You invited them to your party! You are the host. They are the honoured guest. Treat them that way.


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About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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24 Responses to You don’t need a candidate care department. You need a candidate care ethos.

  1. George June 26, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    Yes, but lets be honest 70 have turned up to the wrong address and wrong party ( i.e. completely inappropriate for the role applied for ) and wonder why they don’t get let in! Just saying…….

    I think most recruiters worth their salt will provide some interaction with reasonable candidates, but I can understand why those who are “whistling dixie” don’t get anything

  2. Maria papas June 26, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    Thanks Greg, you have summed it up very well. I’m an ambassador of great candidate care, after all recruiters are meant to be customer service professionals. The lack of response is the worst possible form we can convey to the market after all its about respect, professionalism & peoples careers we have in our capable hands. My role as a senior recruiter was recently made redundant working for a reputable global company due to the global climate & enormous cost cuts. I’m now applying for roles, networking & as the tables have now turned as being the candidate, there is nothing worse than my application getting swallowed in the applicant pool, waiting to hear back with a phone call or calling relentlessly with no one returning my calls. Thanks for reinforcing the golden rules of candidate care.

  3. Neil Bolton June 26, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    How’s your head, Greg? Still banging it aginst that brick wall?

    Surely “candidate care” can’t be this simple . . . oh wait – it is!

  4. Jeremy June 26, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    Greg, it’s good that you mentioned all the basic things that need to be done well.

    A lot of companies do well above and beyond nowadays too. For example, like hosting networking events / drinks. Do candidates appreciate these in this day and age?

  5. Kathryn June 26, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    Hi Greg, I enjoy reading your posts – you’re certainly a straight talker!

    You’re absolutely right, it’s about ethos – and ethos comes from the top down.

    I still remember in my first job a sign that said ‘On a grey day when everything has gone wrong, remember without the candidate you won’t be able to make a single placement’. My tyrant boss would bang her fist on it if she caught any of us moaning about the candidates and made us feel ashamed to bad-mouth anyone.

    It also helps if you recruit for an industry that you’re genuinely interested in – then you’ve got an inherent sense of interest and respect for the candidates coming through your door. Make it easier for yourself – enjoy what you do!

  6. Samantha June 26, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    “George says Yes, but lets be honest 70 have turned up to the wrong address and wrong party ( i.e. completely inappropriate for the role applied for ) and wonder why they don’t get let in! Just saying……. I think most recruiters worth their salt will provide some interaction with reasonable candidates, but I can understand why those who are “whistling dixie” don’t get anything – June 26, 2012, 10:07 am”

    George I think you’re forgetting that one day they might have the desired experience you are seeking or perhaps one day you will be going into their workplace looking for work and they will treat you the same way you have treated them! You can’t simply think in the present – you have to think of the future too. And what are the candidates that you are not responding to telling others? What good is a business if it’s name is treaded through dirt!

    I’m just saying… you have to look after all of your candidates – not just the ones that you can place in jobs NOW.

  7. RJ Sharpe June 26, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    The power and importance of points number 2,4, and 6 cannot be overstated. The need for respect is universal, and it’s not unreasonable. I think it is especially important for the many who are, through no fault of their own, out of work and in a place they never thought they would be. They’re already getting plenty of attitude. Showing respect gives them dignity and that in turn does amazing things for the recruiter, not only now but days, months and years later. Thank you for this post.

  8. Julia Briggs June 26, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    and George, what’s wrong with just plain old good manners……?

  9. Danielle Hatfield June 27, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

    Greg, I think your 7-point candidate-care action plan can also be helpful to small business owners who are looking to hire independent contractors on a per project basis. There are many who want the job, but only a few will get it.

    Thanks for the insight.

  10. Yuriy Shevchenko June 28, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    Good post Greg.

    I work very hard to ensure I do the right thing by candidates although regrettably a few callbacks fall through the cracks occasionally.

    Out of interest, how would you score yourself and your staff on each of those 7 measures, if you’re dirt honest with yourself?

    • Greg Savage June 28, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

      I handle few “candidates” personally but in terms of people I deal with generally I would score myself very highly actually. That is because I work very hard at it and have done for 30 years. So I am confident to make that statement -in public -with little fear of mass contradiction …because I believe I am very responsive to candidates clients, my staff, suppliers and the hundreds of people a month who ask me random staffing questions

      In terms of my staff it varies wildly, but overall I think we can get a great deal better… and we are working on it

  11. Mitch Sullivan June 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    Good post, Greg.

    There’s only one thing you really need to do with candidates – and that’s tell the truth.

    If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember anything.

  12. Amanda Holder July 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    Really interesting article. Lazy recruiters listen up!
    I pride myself on doing these things… Do I do it everytime? No. Do I do it more than most? Yes. Am I going for all? Yes I am – thank you x

  13. Carolyn Mueller July 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    I’ve just discovered your blog (yes, my husband says I’m a Luddite) and I’m impressed with your ability to remind us of the bleeding obvious (excuse my English).
    I’m ashamed to say I was squirming as I read those 7 points. As a former agency recruitment consultant in the Executive market who has recently moved to internal bulk recruitment of trainees, I struggle to maintain contact with the never-ending volume of applicants. Until I read this post, I consoled myself with the fact that I had a good excuse – volume.
    You just killed my excuse stone dead. Thank you for bringing me back to reality.

    • Greg Savage July 24, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

      “Luddite” is harsh on yourself Carolyn…but Yes you SHOULD be reading this blog!
      Good on you for using this article to refocus your candidate care focus

  14. Amit Mustafi February 4, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    Good Reminder to our Recruiting Fundamentals…! Good one, Sir.

  15. Suzanne Levison February 4, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Your candidate now may well end up finding a position on his/her own and become your next great client~

  16. Balasubramaniam February 4, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    All the points are a “must do”.

    Maybe an 8th point…Be Polite….right through


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