If you are getting thousands of candidates applying for your jobs, you’re probably not concerned about candidate loyalty, so you can focus on other things.

But, the impact of candidate loyalty on the recruitment industry has taken center stage recently. There’s no doubt we are in a progressive digital age where candidates can conveniently jump ship to other recruitment options at the click of a single button.

Getting the loyalty of job seekers involves finding what works, improving on it, and then sticking to it.

Candidate loyalty is hard to find

Of course, today’s candidates have become extremely meticulous in their choices, and who can blame them?

There are many recruiters out there and they all have hiring plans that need to be met. Moreover, there are just as many job openings available — and the numbers keep growing, but the number of candidates is not growing that fast. Many recruiters jump into the market every day, promising competitive packages that clearly beat their competitors with amazing promises of opportunities that sound like the next dream job.

Therefore, losing a candidate at the last possible moment (now a common occurrence) is a massive blow to any recruiter, not to mention the frustration and waste of time. And this is not connected only with recruiters in agencies, where recruiters lose their fee, but also recruiters in companies have their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to consider.

Most recruiters understand that the game has changed and that candidate loyalty is a critical issue. Candidates can no longer be taken for granted, and the average candidate is not at your beck and call. Those times have long gone.

Candidates today, like every customer, want quality service. And, candidates really want to form a relationship with the recruiter at the other end.

Here are five (5) ways to improve candidate loyalty:

1 — Ensure good communication — all the time

The power of communication can never be overemphasized. However, keeping in touch with people 24/7 can become an arduous task for busy recruiters.

Every member of your recruitment team should be committed to reaching out and connecting with your candidates.

Candidates want to feel listened to, they want their information updated, and they want to be kept in the loop. They also want quality feedback and tailored messages that speak to them clearly.

There is nothing worse for your company than to ignore candidates and give them no response. Keep in mind that every candidate is also a potential customer, and every customer is also a potential candidate. We all have experience as customer with companies that, if they reach out to u, we will turn  down because of a bad experience with them.

Explicit communication doesn’t just mean listening; it also means giving timely information on the inner workings of the industry, from the period of offer to the onboarding stage. Therefore, you need to break down complex terms for your candidates. In addition, never forget to leave an open line of communication. They should always be able to easily get hold of you. 

There is one rule you should always follow: Never keep a candidate waiting.

2 — Build a growing foundation of trust

We have all experienced the call from a recruiter describing his company or his client’s company and it sounded so amazing that we said yes to an interview. Sadly, the reality was completely different from what was promised to us.

Remember this: Trust is built and maintained by many small actions over time, and once broken it’s hard to repair. In fact, you can lose candidates for your company forever. However, promising what you cannot deliver also leads to negative word of mouth, and that can cause you to lose even more candidates.

Your candidates want to know that they can depend on you. If you are working in an agency, your candidates want to believe you are working behind the scenes to get them the best possible deals and deliver what you promised. A foundation of trust blossoms only when your candidates believe in you.

They just need to know that your company or agency is not all about promises, but also on what you deliver. Once your candidates trust you, they will come to you in future if they are looking for a job.

3 — Build a relationship that extends beyond the job opening

Any recruiter can provide a candidate with a job, but not every recruiter can build a meaningful relationship with their candidates. Building a strong relationship means forming friendships, sharing deep industry expertise, and showing goodwill throughout the recruiting process.

Some recruiters are interested in candidates only if they have some current opening and they need candidates for it, but it’s crucial to be there for your candidate even if the candidate is not open to a role right now.

Make sure you are helpful even when it does not benefit you because, at the end of the day, your candidates are like customers.

4 — Improve your interview process

Nothing bothers candidates more than an application process that seems to take forever to fill out. And the same goes for an interview process that has unnecessary rounds of interviews that could make or destroy your chances of getting that candidate. Does the interview drag on for hours? What about the questions you ask? Are they relevant to the job or industry?

Understanding the mindset of today’s candidates is essential. During the interview process, many things run through the mind of your candidate. It’s an experience that can easily turn from smooth to extremely uncomfortable for the job seeker.

When your candidates start dropping off during the interview process, it is time to re-evaluate the inefficiencies in what you’re doing. That’s why it’s also important after the interview to ask your candidates for their feedback. This could be collected anonymously and it could reveal important information about the blind spots of your interview process.

Keep in mind that one bad interview experience can lead to a candidate saying, “I will never ever apply for a job with that company.”

5 — Set realistic expectations

Promising mouthwatering employment packages or out-of-this-world job openings is all well and good if you want to keep candidate loyalty. However, promising something you are not entirely sure you can deliver can be disastrous.

As a recruiter, it’s necessary to understand that the job market is not immune to overnight fluctuations. Misleading your candidates with unmet expectations, even when you have their best interest at heart, will make you look unprofessional — and worst of all, deceitful.

In fact, reputation precedes everything in the recruitment industry. When you fail to set realistic expectations, you stand the risk of not only losing your candidate loyalty, but also getting a damaged reputation.

Nobody likes to be misled, which is why you need to always be honest with your candidates.

Final thoughts

As in so many things in life, it’s the small gestures that matter. Gaining the loyalty of job seekers, who can easily find another avenue when things don’t work out for them, might not be an easy task. Nevertheless, it IS possible.

It doesn’t matter if they fail during the interview or they were rejected during the pre-screening process, it’s important to provide them with aftercare. Feedback is always important, but make sure to keep the relationship constant until the right role for them comes along.

Apart from excellent service and valid expectations, share with them news about your organization, the culture, and industry trends, or send them your newsletter and invite them to meet-ups or events that are organized by your company.

And if you do, they will keep coming back to you in future.

Jan Tegze

Jan Tegze is Senior Recruiting Manager at SolarWinds, a company that “provides powerful and affordable IT management software to customers worldwide, from Fortune 500 enterprises to small businesses, managed service providers (MSPs), government agencies, and educational institutions.” He is also the author of the book Full Stack Recruiter: The Modern Recruiter's Guide, published October 2017. Jan has extensive experience in full life cycle recruiting, and broad knowledge in international recruiting, sourcing, recruitment branding, marketing and pro-active innovative sourcing techniques. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @jantegze .