Diversity FAQ’s No 16: What is the strategic importance of ‘Keeping candidates warm’ during the recruitment process?

It is clearly evident that since the economic downturn there has been a big drop in recruitment followed by a corresponding dip in industry turnover. According to recent figures taken from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), there was a drop in industry turnover to £19.7 billion from £22 billion in the year 2008/9 – a 12.4 percent decrease.

Viewed from a workplace perspective the offshoots have demonstrated themselves in a drop in both permanent, temporary and contractual placements, with the total turnover for permanent staff, for example, shrinking from £4.276 billion to just £2.609 billion. And the story is not too dissimilar from other countries around the world, including the US according to market analyses carried out by Reuters. But things are beginning to pick up. Indeed, the Coalition Government recently suggested that there have been approximately 400,000 new jobs created in the private sector.

So what is the impact of these figures for recruitment? Whilst there is a clear drop in job opportunities in the market place, the corresponding implications are that there are fewer jobs available than there are skilled people to fill them. But what impact does this have on recruiters bearing in mind the vast numbers of applications for one job? Indeed, in mid 2010, the High Street shopping chain Primark is reputed to have received over 4000 applications for just 193 jobs, and in February this year, Google is reported to have received 75,000 applications for 6000 jobs. So how best are recruiters to handle the vast numbers of job applicants, keeping them warm through what is no doubt an arduous process so as to ensure that employers do not in fact loose out on talent with a wide range of experiences and backgrounds available in the present market place??

The answer lies in the word ‘inclusion’ and it is imperative that this is the watchword for all, particularly those tasked with recruitment. Here’s a short story to contextualise:

A good friend of mine who is an extremely talented IT professional was unfortunately made redundant approximately 6 months ago and had been in the job market seeking a new opportunity. He had applied for a particular job, amongst others, and had gone through a really long and drawn out recruitment and selection process, and finally had an offer made to him – electronically. However, by the time he finally got to speak with the recruiter to secure all the information he needed for agreeing to the offer – which was rather a long time after the final assessment, he had already finalised taking up another role with a different organisation. Indeed, throughout the recruitment process he had to constantly chase the recruiter for information on the next stages to the point whereby he said to me: “It was as if I was running the recruitment process myself”

Whether the issue described above was due to staff shortages, staff cut-backs to assist with financial savings or simply down to an ineffective recruitment process, the point about inclusion is an important one: Keeping candidates warm through communicating relevant and timely information is all about promoting and ensuring transparency of the process (in the mind of the candidate – at least), as well as has the added benefit of driving costs per hire down through creating viable talent pools for future opportunities. Indeed, it is the ultimate task of the recruiter to effectively facilitate this process. There is a deep emotionality that is wrapped up with each genuine candidate application, such that the individual candidate feels connected to the particular organisation as it represents the aspirational future state of his/her particular potential.

But the same is also true of the organisation – which inevitably relies on the identified individual talent (and their range of backgrounds and experiences) to enable it realise its strategic future state in the competitive market place. It is simply not the greatest of organisational practices to send prospective candidate’s automated email generated one-liners regarding their performance in a recruitment application that they have committed a great amount of their energies and emotions towards. Some sort of a personal and/or human touch surely is the way forward?

This is where diversity brokers the deal as it were between keeping candidates warm and the strategic aspirations of the organisation: If diversity as we have discussed in our previous posts is all about effective people management from a range of backgrounds, the process for recruiting talent into organisations must ensure to treat each candidate as individuals bearing in mind their  expectations of  the ‘behaviour’ of an organisations processes and procedures, their individual aspirations, as well as the particular experiences and skills they bring to the organisational table – all of which have a direct impact on the image and brand of the organisation in the diverse market place. This is the strategic importance of keeping a candidate warm – not just within the recruitment process (where it assists drives cost per hire down) but over and above that, for the continuous viability and indeed respectability of the brand of the organisation.

With globalisation, world immigration and new technologies now defining the characteristic of the 21st century talent, an awareness of cultural diversity as it impacts each individual candidate should inevitably sit at the heart of how we ensure effective communication and engagement with our present and future talent ensuring that they feel valued and respected as individuals who will make a real contribution to an organisations growth and development – regardless of the volumes recruiters are having to manage as a consequence of the economic downturn…


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5 responses to “Diversity FAQ’s No 16: What is the strategic importance of ‘Keeping candidates warm’ during the recruitment process?

  1. Janis

    Yet again another great article. It highlights the importance of keeping candidates in the picture despite the reality of there being fewer jobs for a vast number of applicants. I think that all recruiters should read and take a leaf out of this article!

  2. marie

    Recently I was on the applicant side of this process, and felt how much emotionality is wrapped up in the application process. An unexpected position opened up, I interviewed and had (what I thought) was a great hour plus interview, was told I would hear from them in a few days. I relayed my excitement to the recruiter. Surprise, less than 24 hours later I get a one liner email that starts with the word “sorry….” The job situation was devastating, but I was truly surprised by the nonchalence of the recruiter. I know recruiters are busy, but appreciating the emotional attachment a candidate has to a position/company does’t require too much time or effort, and simple courtesies in communications are appreciated. I clearly let the recruiter know I was excited about this opportunity, so when I got the “sorry” note, I requested more info; I wondered how I could have been so off, what happened? All I received was the “its not you” paragraph. Never a call, and certainly no empathy. Maybe I expected too much. Thanks for your article, I feel like maybe I wasn’t too far off.

    • Hi Marie,

      Actually I do not think you expected too much at all. I think it is only right that if you put time into applying for a job, it is only reasonable and fair that your efforts are demonstrably appreciated by the recruiter.

      I do think a very large part of the problem is that recruiters, are more often than not, profit driven, the implication being that applicants (you and I) inevitably become mere numbers – and are treated as such. In effect, we loose our ‘individuality’ when we apply for jobs – particularly in periods when there are less jobs than there are applicants such as presently.

      That having been said, I do know some excellent recruiters who are able to effectively intermingle as well as distinguish the ‘task’ from ‘the individual’, according each the energies and respect that they are both due.

      Appreciate your comments.


  3. Lorna Leeson

    Its interesting reading your blog to see how you define ‘keeping a candidate warm’ – its what I would probably call ‘doing your job as a recruiter’. The attraction process doesn’t end with the job advert and (counter-intuitively for some) in a loose labour market businesses need to work even harder to convince talent that they are making the right move and that you as an employer are an organisation that matches their values. If you just treat them as a number during the recruitment process this connection is impossible.

    I’d also say that the benefits go far beyond the ‘hygiene factor’ KPIs of CPH and TTH; close contact between the recruiter and candidate throughout the process actually makes sure you are making the right hiring decision – a good recruiter will build a relationship with the candidate, understand their expectations and needs, get a more informal (and, dare I say, less guarded) interaction than they will have in the interview and assessment process.

    Of course keeping every single applicant ‘warm’ when applications are so high is impossible – which is why its even more important that those who are managing candidates understand exactly what talent looks like and focus on them in particular.

    Ultimately, you establish the psychological contract with an employee during the recruitment process. Too many organisations treat recruitment as a transactional process to be outsourced and measured by time and cost. While these are essential foundations of a good recruitment process the value to the business comes when your recruitment team understand the wider business objectives so can help identify and nurture the right

  4. Jessica

    I think it is important to take in consideration the applicants’ perspective – keeping them in the loop of developments seem obvious, but when you are dealing with multiple applicants from the recruiter side you’re idea of contact is slightly skewed.
    Applying for positions is somewhat demoralising already and so treating applicants as individuals is not only important because it respectful, but because their experience will inform how they rate your organisation.

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