In a super competitive, candidate-led market such as the one we’re in today, it’s vital as a recruitment specialist to proactively and strategically find the best talent out there. We’re essentially operating at a time where some of the best candidates are not actively applying for roles and may not have their CV on a job board. Often, they don’t need to– they’re contacted by recruiters who are headhunting, or whom they have built a relationship with. It’s important to know how to find and attract passive candidates, but that being said,  the same rules apply to those candidates that are more active in a job search too. Here are five keys to building a strong candidate network…

Know the Role

First things first, you need to understand the role inside out! You’ll need to know just about everything you can before actually beginning to look for the right candidates. When resourcing for a role, I want to know everything from what the role involves on a day-to-day basis and what the most important skills are; to how the team is structured and the reason for the position opening. Not only will candidates ask you these things on the first screening call to find out if the role is right for them, but this is also partially how you’ll able to identify the right talent for the role quickly and efficiently.

The Right Tools

This may differ depending on the recruiter, specialism, or industry– but for me the most valuable first point of call (if I don’t of course have candidates I already know) in a competitive market is LinkedIn Recruiter. To start with, I typically will have groups of candidates set up in saved searches for certain job functions. For more complex positions or roles that I may not have worked on in a while, the advanced search function is great. You can search by job title or use more traditional Boolean strings, as well many other options. The extensive search functionality can be especially helpful to find candidates that don’t maintain fully detailed profiles on LinkedIn.

For those candidates mentioned earlier that are more active in their job search, you could use a variety of Boolean search strings on relevant job boards. This might include key skills, or in my case certain marketing channels, or a variety of common job titles. One search does not acquire all! Engaging and detailed job advertising is important too, and can be a great tool to have running in the background. As most recruiters will know, an in-house CRM system is invaluable to building a strong network of candidates who are looking for their next role!

Reaching Out

Following the sourcing stage comes the first approach. It’s obviously very different if you already have an established relationship with a candidate– but when you have found the perfect candidate and you have never spoken with them before, first impressions definitely count! Clear voicemails and emails with calls to action are imperative to make it clear who you are but you also need to give someone a reason to get back to you. You’ll often work on roles that don’t allow you to give all of the details away in the first instance, but you need to provide enough information to generate interest. It’s similar to a first approach on LinkedIn – it has to stand out. Candidates get approached on a weekly if not daily basis, so provide the important details! Ultimately, people value as much transparency as possible.

Optimise the Process

Time frames will vary from role to role, regardless of the sourcing process remaining the same. A specialist marketing role for example, will move quicker than a role without a strong candidate pool or a role that is more complex. To deliver a role properly, it will initially take a day or so of sourcing followed by a couple of days conducting screening calls and video interviews. Culture fit is often incredibly important– which can’t be determined by reading a CV or profile. Our video interviews can provide clients with great insight to candidates’ personalities and communication styles early on, helping to speed up the overall interview process too.

Transparency is Key

One of the most important things when it comes to managing the process is transparency. We need to explain how a process is going to work and why, or how a client typically operates. If a client is on a tight timeline or has asked for a limited number of profiles, it’s important to communicate that urgency. If you’re asking for an updated CV by the end of the day, there’s a chance you’ll be perceived as pushy if you haven’t properly explained the process.

It’s important to be transparent in your feedback too. Negative feedback can be especially difficult to deliver, but


Above all, it’s absolutely crucial to do what you say  you’re going to do, no excuses! Building a relationship is the key to maintaining a strong network of candidates, and that mutual respect is how you’ll be able to manage a process effectively.


Lauren FarmerThis blog post was written by Lauren Farmer, our awesome Digital Consultant, who specialises in CRM, Digital Marketing & Design Recruitment.

If you’re looking for a new job in digital you can connect with Lauren on LinkedIn here!

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