A recruiter’s guide to candidate relationship management in a hiring slowdown

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5 mins, 8 secs read time

If your hiring has slowed down or is on pause altogether, you might have taken some advice from our recent blog post, When hiring slows down, you don’t have to: A recruiter’s guide to adapting. If so, you’ve most likely already checked in on your candidates and communicated the pause, logged their profiles into your candidate relationship management (CRM) tool and closed down open roles. So what’s next?

While your team may have switched to a project-based workflow or increased collaborative work with other departments, your relationship with candidates shouldn’t take a hit just because you’ve stopped hiring. Some recruiters might wait until hiring resumes before re-engaging – but candidates in your pipeline might be in talks with other recruiters and accepting other opportunities.

Once hiring resumes, you’ll still want to be able to snag stellar candidates. And in order to do that, you need to provide a great candidate experience, which starts with their relationship with you.

So how can you successfully manage current and future candidate relationships?

Organize your candidates accordingly

Make sure you have a CRM that can help you easily classify and nurture the talent in your database. Just remember that the data you have in your CRM is only as helpful as you make it – so be as detailed as you can when organizing candidate profiles. Here are some ideas:

Create a separate pool for the most promising candidates. This will make it easier for you to find the candidates you want to re-engage with in the future.

Create specific stages within that pool. These stages may include “application review,” “mid-stage” or “later stage.” Classifying in this way will help your team organize your candidates based on which stage of the interview process they were last in. Also, make sure that candidates in every stage are assigned a prospect owner.

Log everything. Ensure that the last communication to each candidate is logged into the CRM. This will make it easier for your team to personalize outreach.

Be personal with your outreach

Once you’ve found those promising candidates in your CRM, write a personalized message to each of them. Being thoughtful and personal in your outreach messages will help you 1) record certain details about candidates that you can reference in future correspondence and 2) build stronger relationships with your candidates.

Pro tip: Speaking on the phone rather than via email allows you to better gauge how candidates are feeling, and to respond with more empathy and understanding.

Continue to be transparent

Whether your company is on a hiring pause or not, it’s important to continue to be transparent with candidates. Even if there’s no official news, let candidates know that even though there aren't any updates on your end, you wanted to check in and are still looking forward to seeing them through the process. This shows applicants that you’re enthusiastic about their candidacy and that you haven’t forgotten about them.

If hiring has resumed at your organization, be sure to ask candidates if they are still interested in the role, and then let them know about next steps as soon as possible.

Follow up often

An abundance of new information every day means people’s plans can change at any time. Checking in with your candidates every few weeks can help you keep a pulse on how they’re doing and how their job hunt is progressing. Following up consistently will also help your team build stronger candidate relationships and stay top of mind.

Provide support in other ways

You’ve probably seen many organizations throughout your wider network go through company-wide layoffs due to the recent state of the world. No one could have prepared us for the current environment – and while that can make us feel like we’re not in control, we can control how we react to the situation.

Some of us on the Greenhouse Recruiting team have started a network outreach initiative to best support people in need. Team members have reached out to their LinkedIn networks offering their expertise and free services like resume reviews and interview coaching for those who are back on the job market. Not only does this provide guidance in an unfortunate situation, but it also allows for building positive and authentic relationships with people who could potentially be future candidates.

Example recruiter profile

Here are a few tips for starting a network outreach initiative like this:

Align on messaging. For those who have volunteered their time, sync up on the messaging that you’ll be sending out to your network. Is this a company-backed initiative or a personal decision? What kind of services will your team be providing? Ultimately, these external efforts will take time out of your regular responsibilities, so it’s important to align on how much work your team will put in and how to best express that in your messaging.

Set some boundaries. There are a lot of people who appreciate this kind of service and your team will probably receive a lot of interest. It’s important to set clear boundaries between daily responsibilities and external work like this. The Greenhouse team slots time in our work calendars specifically for resume reviews or interview and career coaching to best manage our time.

Take care of yourself. Even if you have a lot of experience reviewing resumes, be sure to protect your time and take care of yourself. You won’t be able to help every single person who has been laid off, but if you set boundaries, take breaks and help only as many as you’re able to mentally handle, you can continuously make an impact.

Building strong relationships with your candidates means your team might have to take things a step further than they’ve done before with respect to connecting with current and future candidates. That might manifest as your team members spending an extra 10 minutes on an external email or following up more frequently, but these efforts do make a world of difference, and will make you stronger partners and advocates for current and future candidates.

Has hiring slowed down at your organization? Explore our new eBook Maintaining a hiring mindset for practical guidance on building a strong hiring foundation, even when you're not hiring.

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Generi Talens

Generi Talens

is a Recruiter at Greenhouse. She started her career in agency recruiting and recently moved to New York City to join the Greenhouse team and hire the best of the best. She’s originally from Long Beach, CA and graduated from the University of California, Irvine.

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