6 Strategies to Develop Better Relationships With Candidates

Quick — what’s the most expensive mistake a recruiter can make?

If you said matching the wrong candidate to the job, ding ding: You win.

Except, you lose.

This mistake costs you big (literally, in placement fees) and in a more figurative, reputation-damaging sense. It could harm your agency’s reputation, too.

The solution is building and nurturing excellent candidate relationships. When these are in place, you will better understand what your candidate wants throughout the hiring process and have a better chance of making a great match.

Recruiting is all about relationships, and in this article, we’re highlighting six strategies to build better ones with your candidates.

1. Learn how to listen

No skill will serve you better in the recruiting industry than this one. Find out what your candidate wants, needs and absolutely must have. Listen between the lines, too, and ask the right follow-ups; when he says he prefers to be self-directed, what does he really mean?

Of course, being a good listener when you’re talking to hiring managers pays off as well. When you better understand the position, you can find the right candidate for the job.

Want more tips on how to be a good listener? Watch this TED talk with sound expert Julian Treasure.

2. Pay better attention to the culture fit

We’ve all heard the stats about the high cost of employee turnover, and poor culture fit is a leading reason new hires don’t work out. When you place a candidate with a company whose culture is contrary to what the candidate values, you risk dissatisfied customers on both sides of the hiring fence. This raises the rate of attrition, which no one wants.

The added risk here is that dissatisfied job-seekers don’t stay quiet; conversely, they’re more apt to take to social media and the review sites and leave a poor review. In fact, according to the 2016 North American Candidate Experience Research Report from The Talent Board, in which they surveyed of 183,000 candidates who applied at more than 240 companies, 66 percent of candidates share their negative recruiting experiences with friends and family members. Ouch.

3. Be an open & responsive communicator (really)


We all say we prioritize communication, but this is probably the most overlooked aspect of providing exceptional service in our industry. Don’t just pay this one lip service — we want you to truly:

  • Communicate clearly
  • Communicate often
  • Pick up the phone
  • Promptly return emails and voicemails
  • Build rapport
  • Be friendly and relaxed

Think about it — you want your candidates to be good communicators, but are you setting a good example? And make sure your messaging is targeted (no generic email blasts), demonstrating that you’ve taken the time to learn about them.

However, don’t bombard people with unsolicited messages and emails. You will alienate them, and of course, they’ll have no problem telling their professional inner circle all about it.

4. Make them feel valued

According to the above-referenced study from The Talent Board, one of the main reasons candidates withdraw from the hiring process is because they feel the company doesn’t value their time.

Applying, interviewing, following up — these are time-consuming and potentially discouraging endeavors. Show your candidates that you understand this, and they’ll remember that you didn’t treat them like second-class citizens. Help them feel valued by:

  • Being on time for your meetings
  • Following up after they’ve interviewed
  • Allowing time for their questions
  • Doing due diligence about their professional experience
  • Acknowledging their time and effort, especially when it comes to skills testing

Let’s face it: There’s a talent shortage, and it’s a candidate’s market. They’ll drop off if they don’t feel valued with you..

5. Go where they hang out (online)

Which publications do your candidates read? What sites and social channels do they spend time on? Which forums and discussion groups do they participate in? Go where they go and start developing genuine, authentic relationships. Share helpful content, comment on their updates, repost their content. Everyone is seeking engagement on their social channels, candidates included.

One of the key benefits of this is that they’ll be more likely to trust your brand. According to a Brandfog study of CEO social media use and trust, 76 percent of people said they view companies whose leadership team communicates about their brand via social media as more trustworthy.

LinkedIn will, of course, be a major player in this arena. Learn how to find candidates and cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with our post, “13 Power-User Tips for Finding Candidates on LinkedIn.”

6. Above all, be honest

Let’s be frank: Candidates don’t always trust recruiters and vice versa. Candidates exaggerate their experience and recruiters exaggerate how amazing an opportunity is, creating an intrinsic and ever-present trust issue.

Stop this. Even if you’re the only recruiter in the world who is honest and above-board 100 percent of the time, be that recruiter. Candidates can sense such refreshing honesty, and it will reap untold rewards.

Don’t exploit. Don’t cheat. Don’t exaggerate. They’ll smell empty promises and ultimately, you will tarnish your reputation. Be the recruiter they can trust.


The above tips all play off one another. Being a good listener helps you be a good communicator, which helps candidates feel valued. Engaging on social media and understanding what kind of cultural fit they’re looking for helps you better understand a candidate, which builds trust. Trust is the cornerstone of every great placement — and every satisfied customer.

TrackerRMS is a complete, end-to-end relationship management system for recruitment agencies, complete with the sales and recruitment tools, data and analytics you need to succeed. Run searches, manage your sales, recruiting and onboarding needs, and pull analytics reports, all from within the platform. Schedule a live demo today.

Related Posts