Stay in the driver's seat to maintain control of
the recruiting proces
We've all heard of the perfect candidate flaking out at the 11th
hour. Reasons can vary from the infamous counteroffer, a surprise
month-long vacation, or the candidate accepting another offer you
never knew they had.
Like it or not, any time you are blindsided by your candidate,
you've lost control of the recruiting process. This negatively
impacts your client, your organization, and it directly reflects on
you as a recruiter.
You can't afford to lose control when credibility is the currency
to all recruiting transactions.
We will never be able to completely eliminate these types of
situations; however, the goal of a best-in-class recruiter is to
minimize them as much as possible by maintaining candidate control.
This control refers to the partnership and relationship that the
recruiter drives. The recruiter should always remain in the driver's
seat, making the candidate the passenger. Control does not mean
forcefully restricting what the candidate can and can't do.
Remember, you want to build the relationship.
To help maintain control of the recruiting process, the recruiter
should set the tone of the relationship from the very first
conversation with the candidate. This includes verbally setting
clear expectations as to what each party needs to bring to the
At times, this practice can be challenging for new recruiters who
may question its value, but the first conversation is the foundation
upon which your candidate relationship will be built. The right
conversation will positively affect all future conversations and
will help ensure a positive final outcome in the recruiting process.
Setting expectations is not just for the recruiter's benefit. The
recruiter should clearly communicate the purpose of the conversation
to the candidate so both parties understand what is required to
During the initial conversation the recruiter should always:
Provide full disclosure of the job requirements, duties, and
full responsibilities of the position. At this time, the recruiter
should also nail down the expected compensation and benefits. Do
not end the conversation without clear expectations about what the
candidate needs to make and what you can offer.
Be available to answer the candidate's questions in an open
and transparent manner.
Keep in close contact with the candidate through the
qualification, interview and offer processes.
Let the candidate know where they stand in the hiring process
and provide constructive feedback when necessary.
On the flip side, the candidate should always:
Provide you with full disclosure of their job search status.
This will include, if possible, the companies or agencies that
they have submitted their resumes to, the companies they are
actively engaged with and the status of each of those engagements.
Provide you with a well-written resume, examples of their work
when applicable and being available to answer in-depth questions
about their background.
Keep you well-informed of any changes in their availability to
interview or anything that would prevent them from starting a new
role, including vacations that may conflict with your company's or
This is not a one-way or a one-time process. This should be the
standard for each and every initial candidate conversation.
As a recruiter, ask your candidate: "Has anything changed in
your search status?" on a recurring basis. I've seen more "back
outs" in my career due to the recruiter not having a 360-degree view
of the candidate, their motivations, and all opportunities they are
The goal of the first conversation is for the candidate to leave
with a clear understanding that you're a professional, an expert in
your industry, and a partner in the process. Also, that an open and
honest line of communication is a critical component to the
You'll find one of two things when you discuss these mutually
beneficial expectations with your candidate:
The candidate is amenable with the expectations set and it is
clear based on their active participation with you during the
conversation that they are engaged and committed to the role and
interested in partnering with you throughout the process.
Or, your candidate will not be completely engaged with the
process even after you talk through their objections and have
presented the benefits associated with each of the aforementioned
expectations. For example, the candidate may not be open to
sharing their past salary history or their desired rate with you,
they may not be open to keeping you informed on their search
status, or unwilling to confirm changes with you in a timely
manner. These are the candidates you potentially
will want to pass on. I say potentially as I've been in this
business long enough to know that the recruiting process requires
us to be flexible (especially when working with top-notch
candidates). Make this decision with one caveat: a candidate who
is unwilling to conform to simple parameters will be more likely
to throw you for a loop at some point in your recruiting process.
Know what category your candidate fits into and resolve any red
flags before proceeding.
After the initial conversation, touch
base with your active candidates often. Determine whether anything
has changed in their status and uncover and resolve any additional
Reconfirm their ongoing commitment to the opportunity. Many of us
have learned the hard way that things change quickly, at time daily!
Reconnecting with candidates often will minimize being caught off
You must drive the recruiting process; the recruiting process
should not drive you. To keep your candidates as partners in the
process, do your part to proactively and routinely reach out,
engage, and set mutually beneficial expectations with them. By
driving the process, you will stay in control, help your candidates
land an amazing job, and achieve record placement results.