How to Play the Long Game in Recruiting

January 13, 2017 at 6:00 AM by Rob Stevenson

LongGameHeader.pngOpen roles, quarterly goals, and hiring manager woes. Much of a your job as a recruiter demands you move quickly to close talent and move on to other reqs. Time to fill is a metric you come up against, and having it hang over your head is enough to pressure you into trying to close every candidate. But sometimes, you’ve got to play the long game.

You’ll inevitably come across individuals who are warm on you and your organization but for any number of reasons (they love their current role, your role doesn’t represent a career move, the change in commute isn’t ideal, and so on) aren’t ready to sign up quite yet. These are relationships you must nurture to make hiring easier for yourself in the future. Now may not be the right time, but as your org’s needs grow and the candidate’s skill set develops, it could blossom into a perfect match down the road.

Even if you don’t end up hiring this candidate later on, you may be able to refer them to one of your recruiting pals at another organization who has a perfect fit role for them. This team player attitude is also another long-term strategy. Send a candidate to your recruiting colleagues elsewhere, and they might just send another one back your way.

Where to Begin

Once you’ve engaged with someone who fits the “you’re great, but not for right now” criteria, you’ve got to cultivate the relationship. First, make sure they’re appropriately tagged within your ATS. Marking them as something like “Future Follow Up” will help you bucket all your similar candidates, and also prevent someone else on your talent team from reaching out in the interim.

In addition to ATS tagging, set yourself a reminder to follow up after a few months. There are several tools you can use for this, but the easiest ones are right inside your email client. Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo! All have simple, built-in reminder tools, so we’d recommend using those.

Now. When to reach out? Holidays and birthdays are a great excuse, as are work milestones. Side note, people are more likely to change jobs around the time of their one year anniversary than any other time. Go forth and recruit likewise.

The “Just Checking In” email is also a great opportunity to have a strategic next touch. Use it as an opportunity to recognize a recent company achievement (like fundraising), to compliment a candidate’s recent work, or to invite them to an event you’re hosting. Leave a call-to-action – perhaps to catch up over a cup of coffee or to get in touch if they’re on the lookout for a new role. Don’t forget your email signature is prime link real estate, and it holds the advantage of being able to include something self-promotional without coming across as pushy. Include a link that has exciting news about your company, awards you’ve won, or press inclusions.

Have more casual encounters

Beyond the occasional catch up email, there are other low-stakes ways to engage long term candidates.

Grow employee brand ambassadors. If your company ever hosts any meetups, speakers, or other networking events, make sure one of your top performers is in tow. They could field questions from potential candidates and share what they enjoy about their experience with the company.

Share a meal with candidates. Talking shop with peers over lunch isn’t just a way to ingratiate your candidate with the team, it’s a way to show off your organizational culture and personality in a way that probably wouldn’t shine through in an interview situation. At Entelo, our engineering team hosts a quarterly team-wide ramen lunch, where all friends of Entelo are welcome to come by, meet the team and hear about what we’re working on in a casual, non-interview situation.

These opportunities for informal touch points would be impossible within the traditional recruiting funnel, yet they are an integral part of nurturing a strong talent community. Because they are less transactional by their nature, they build crucial and genuine bonds between your organization and the outside world that can generate more referrals, a strong employer brand, and a broader, more resilient funnel for when hiring kicks into overdrive.

While there will always be the need to fill roles quickly, you can’t afford to disregard candidates who think positively about your company but aren’t ready to move yet. Make the effort to cultivate the relationship, and do your future recruiting self a favor.

Related articles:
Attracting and Hiring Talent for the Long Term
What Happens When You Standardize Your Interview Process
The 9 Best Productivity Apps for Recruiters

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