It is really ironic that our most crucial resource in the personnel
services industry is our database of candidates and it is also the most
neglected. Most owners and practitioners would admit that they could
do a much better job of keeping their candidate records current.
Those same industry professionals believe that 70% of the candidates
in their records are current. The reality is most databases are only
30-50% current at best.
Many candidate databases contain thousands of records. The
impracticality of calling them all and maintaining current
information on the majority of them is often cause for doing
nothing. The incidental search through the database to seek a “fit’
for a current search most often results in a lost candidate. He or
she has moved on and left no forwarding address with us least of
all, a current telephone number. Occasionally we get lucky in that
we find someone at a previous employer who can lead us to our “lost
sheep’. Usually it is a dead end resulting in a deleted candidate.
We also lose many other valuable benefits of continuing and current
communication with candidates. First, we are not gaining the
referrals they can provide. Second, those that are in a hiring
capacity are probably working with your competitor who stayed in
touch. Thirdly, our presence in our niche shrinks everyday as our
candidates fade away from our benign neglect.
The vast majority of our candidates, (estimated by some to be 90% or
more), have Email addresses. Many have more than one Email address.
This recruiter has seven. Most of us know that contacting old
friends and acquaintances by the occasional Email message is a
commonplace practice today.
A simple and inexpensive process will keep our records current and
reap all the rewards they can provide. This process requires
existing basic resources, such as:
A reasonably updated desktop or portable computer system
Internet access (cable modem or DSL based access preferred)
Email management software (Several exist such as Outlook, Outlook
The process requires the recruiter to obtain the email address of
every candidate. Most current recruiter specific, desktop management
programs and database programs accommodate email addresses or are
modified easily to record them. Once each address is entered into
the email management program in the address book the process of
sending emails is as simple as sending the group you select.
I recommend that you send them in groups of like disciplines and
similar income ranges. Try to send out groups of one hundred at a
time. These transmissions of emails can be sent automatically after
business hours to minimize cost and the monopolization of fax/modem
lines. Your ISP may also prefer bulk emailing to occur during
non-primetime hours in consideration of bandwidth usage.
These email messages should contain a simple message stating your
desire to stay in close contact and keep the candidate aware of the
best opportunities for which they may have an interest in pursuing.
Candidates love recruiters who really do stay in touch (Most say so,
and then disappear until they need that candidate again. This
process molds the candidate perception of our efforts as a positive
one. They will appreciate our efforts to keep them in “THE LOOP”.
Limiting our efforts to 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. Some
suggested, internally generated additions are:
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
A questionnaire on what they would like to see in working with a
Resume tune-up tips
Results will vary. 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 web sites offer email locator programs that can prove
helpful in identifying a second or third Email address, or a
candidate’s web site.
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
Finally, I am not suggesting that a recruiter should 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 of this
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