The Importance of Candidate Interaction

In pretty much every professional role, the client is by far the most important stakeholder. They dictate to us and we oblige. That paradigm may well not be so black and white these days but ultimately won’t ever change.

Over the past few weeks, I have been writing my business plan for FY15/16. This has centred largely around ‘who my aspirational clients are?’; ‘what strategic account mapping can I undertake from my existing clients’; ‘how can I develop new clients into long-term partners’? The list goes on…

However, as I have reflected on this (I’m a firm believer that a strategic plan involves many iterations) the focus has shifted (or certainly balanced) to a stakeholder group notoriously under recognised yet no less important. Candidates.

I think pretty much all reputable headhunters recognise the importance of their candidate network, but how many actually invest in it sufficiently?

Don’t get me wrong, I will always retain a clear focus on client management. Their requirements are paramount and I consistently strive to exceed expectations. I am however redressing the significance of these two groups and portioning my time accordingly.

Much of my work with candidates has little to do with aptitude. It’s a mix of personality, a personable nature and above all, decency. Tasks such as keeping candidates up to date with assignment progress, being punctual with information and taking the time to thoroughly share constructive feedback. These simple rules are the main reasons behind why I believe I have developed a rich network of ‘advocate’ candidates.

I recently caught up with a Medical Director who I worked with on an executive level assignment for a leading international healthcare group. I was appalled (yet not surprised) to hear of some of the experiences he has been through with other headhunters. Not once was their expertise questioned, it was their lack of integrity and genuine concern for his best interests.

Whilst this disappointed me as I have developed a genuine friendship with this candidate, I took it positively. It’s my differentiator. And whilst it should be a given, it continues to be the most sparing commodity in the industry.

Ask yourself the following question, ‘What if a client of today became a candidate tomorrow? Would you treat them differently?’ If the answer is no (which it should be) then consider the flip side. Not only is overlooking the importance of candidates, improper, it’s foolish.

Candidate interaction and relationship development are two of the most enjoyable parts of my role and one I’m thankful Collingwood truly push.

I have been fortunate to receive some humbling praise from candidates over the past 12 months. That is genuinely what makes my job satisfying. These testimonials, together with the ‘horror stories’ I heard earlier this week are only cementing and crystallising my thinking…

Take care of the candidates and the clients will look after themselves.