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What to do With Candidates You Don’t Hire

September 23rd, 2020 4 minute read
Claire Murray
Claire Murray
HR & Recruitment Journalist
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How many times have you started recruiting and wished you had a pool of talented candidates to pick from?

Or been through a recruitment process and regretted not being able to hire a brilliant candidate who wasn’t right for that specific role?

These candidates are your potential future hire and, when treated right, a great source of referrals. 

When you continue to build relationships with the great candidates you haven’t hired yet: 

  • You won’t have to settle for hiring an “OK” candidate in a rush to get someone through the door
  • You’ll reduce your time to hire
  • You’ll spend less time and money on recruitment advertising
  • You’ll make better, more engaged hires, and reduce turnover

Deciding not to hire someone doesn’t need to spell the end of your relationship – if you have a talented individual on your hands, you need to continue to build a relationship with them. 

It starts with candidate experience

Every touchpoint with you candidates is equally important. Your advert. Your careers website. Your application form. The quality and consistency of your communication. The interview process …. 

Even bad-fit candidates have friends. They talk. And, regardless, they could be a great fit down the line. 

You have to give every candidate a great experience. 

  • Make it easy to apply
  • Make it easy to find out about what it’s like to work at your organization
  • Communicate regularly, and set expectations clearly

And number one? Stop ghosting your candidates.

When someone cuts off all communication with their friends or the person they’re dating, with zero warning or notice beforehand, they’re ghosting. 

With a recent surge in applications, “ghosting” is increasingly common in recruitment too.

It’s just plain rude. Candidates have spent time applying for the role and, even if they’re unsuccessful, it’s courteous to let them know. 

Invite the candidates you like, but don’t hire, to your talent pipeline

If your EVP’s strong and your recruitment marketing’s doing its job, people aren’t necessarily applying because of a specific position. 

Culture, company values, and the overall employment experience are valued highly and it’s likely some candidates will applySo, even if they’re not right for one role, they could be a great fit for another, and you’ll want to keep in contact with them. 

These candidates are your future hires.

Jen Tilly, HR Manager at software company, ResDiary, employs this strategy for in-demand development talent.

“For many candidates, they’re just keen to work with the organization and could fit into multiple areas of the business. So I ask good candidates if they give express permission to keep their details on record.”

Jen Tilly
HR Manager, ResDiary

Keep in contact with your talent pipeline

The World Economic Forum’s 2018 report estimated that by 2022, technology will create 133 million jobs and eliminate 75 million, for a net gain of 58 million. That’s a lot of transitions and changing circumstances, making it important to keep your talent pipeline engaged.

It’s hard work to keep up with this manually. If you’re really focused on building an engaged talent pool you should be:

  • Sending emails and text messages to keep your talent pool up to date with what’s happening in your organization and share information they might find interesting. 
  • Send them details of openings that match their interests and experience. The best tools will highlight good-fit pipeline candidates when you create a new opening, making it easy to view suitable people in your pool. 
  • Regularly check if candidates still want to be in your talent pool and keep their profiles up to date. (All that job movement means things can easily change in a few months and this is particularly important as it may be a requirement under some data protection legislation like the GDPR.)

Keeping your candidates engaged is something our CEO, Tom Hacquoil, advocates strongly:

Treat your pipeline like a network

Your relationship with your talent pool shouldn’t be transactional; make them feel they’re part of a community and make the conversation to-way. 

People talk. If they have a great experience applying for a role with you they’ll tell people about it. Similarly, 72% of candidates will share bad hiring experiences with their network. 

By building good candidate relationships, you can encourage them to refer friends for other suitable roles. You can even implement a referral program. After all, good candidates probably have a good network.

John Paul Engel, founder of Knowledge Capital Consulting and lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the University of Iowa, uses this strategy. 

“The first thing I do is pull up my A+ candidates when I need to fill a role. If they’re not looking, I ask for a referral, offering a donation to their favorite charities.” 

John Paul Engel
Founder, Knowledge Capital Consulting

Use technology to help you

Talent pipeline tools are a standard feature of modern applicant tracking systems. They help you nurture your future hires by:  

  • Helping you keep in touch with email and text message templates, and automation. 
  • Helping you stay top of mind with programmatic advertising tools. 
  • Automatically highlighting candidates that are a good fit for new vacancies you create in your applicant tracking system. 
  • Managing data protection requirements including consent and data retention periods.

Applicant volume’s increasing and giving good candidates an exceptional experience is more difficult than ever. The right talent pipeline software will ensure that you can store, track, and keep in contact with good candidates, equipping you to deal with these changes. 

See how Pinpoint can help you build and manage a stronger talent pipeline.

About the author
Claire Murray
Claire Murray
I love stories. Because of stories, I have degrees in history and journalism, and I've worked in hospitality, sales, and marketing. Personally, I'm a: 📚 Big book fan 🛸 Star Trek nerd 🏔️ Love a good hill 👟 Fan of cool sneakz

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