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How to Guide Candidates Into Careers

Interviewing Tips Not Enough? Here’s How to Guide Candidates Into Careers

Jim seemed like a perfect fit for one of your top clients. He met all the job requirements. His experience was diverse and extensive. His knowledge of the industry was impressive, and it showed. Within a year, his previous employer promoted him from a supervisor role to director.

You gave him interviewing tips and coached him through several video interviews. Then your client postponed the interview. A few days later, you found out they decided to pass on him. Where did Jim go wrong?

More than likely, you were not clear about what your client actually wanted in their talent. For this reason, Jim wasn’t able to shine like he should.

In order to help your candidates stand out and excite your clients, you need to think beyond just sharing interviewing tips and giving them pointers on body language. That information is important, but it’s not enough.

increased hiring timeAs a staffing professional, you need to play a more active role in helping candidates present their best self to your clients. When you are proactive with candidates, you’re ensuring no time is wasted grooming a bad fit. And time is of value in the hiring process.

In fact, Glassdoor’s report found that the average time to hire a new employee has gone from almost 13 days to nearly 23.

This problem indicates two things: job seekers aren’t effectively communicating their value, and employers are struggling to see fit in their candidates. Fortunately, you can address these issues empowering your most qualified candidates to put their best foot forward.

This is the ultimate guide to make your candidates shine and ensure your clients see the value in them:

Get on the Same Page

You can’t match candidates when you aren’t 100 percent sure what your client wants. Stay openly communicative with your clients so you have a full picture of their ideal candidate.

Ask your clients to be as specific as possible so you have a clear set of expectations and criteria to measure against. Chances are you won’t find an exact match to this ideal candidate persona, but this is a great exercise to force your client to hone in on the most important traits and aspects of applicants.

Once you’re given an ideal candidate persona, you should inquire about what the deal breakers are. In other words, what “requirements” are actually required and which ones are negotiable.

job requirementsCareerBuilder’s August 2015
survey found 42 percent of employers would still consider a candidate who meets most of their requirements. Hiring managers and HR professionals who write job descriptions are typically guessing what exactly is required for the open role. You need to know what skills and other aspects of the job description have some leeway.

Keep constant communication, especially when priorities change for your client so you know how to best serve them. Over time, you will learn what each of your clients prioritize in their search for talent.

For example, if a client continually emphasizes the importance of creative problem solving, they clearly value that skill more than most. Therefore, you wouldn’t waste their time with candidates who are more analytical and less creative.

To ensure you and your clients are on the same page, you should look at using real-time messaging services. There are several solutions that are free, easy to use, and effective at keeping channels open.

Slack is one of the most popular team messaging apps today. It allows you to create channels and direct messages and calls. You can integrate it with other tools, like Dropbox, to make file sharing easy.

Start channels for specific roles for each client. This way your client can share updated docs with you in an instant. If they’ve updated job postings, you should have the most recent version as reference.

Workplace by Facebook is another great app for staying connected with clients. The Work Chat feature connects you instantly through text, voice, and video messaging options. Given the similarities to the Facebook interface, you and your clients may find the learning curve slightly less intimidating.

Create groups among your clients, and customize your news feed to receive their latest updates. Encourage your clients to create posts within your group, and have their internal team share their input on the same post. This will ensure you have the most up-to-date information in one place.

Adopt a Marketing Mindset

Once you have a clear idea about what your clients want, you must change your mindset about your role as a staffing professional. You are a marketer, connecting candidates who have unique talents with employers who need their talents.

Think like a marketer for talent by applying the four Ps — product, place, price, and promotion.


The product you’re selling your clients on is your candidate and the value they have to offer. To promote your candidate’s skills, provide clients with a prioritized summary of their experiences and examples of their work. This list should be customized to your client’s preferences, not just generalized qualifications.


Marketing is about placing your product in front of your audience in the right place at the right time. To make sure you’re showing your candidates at the right place, first discuss how your clients want to receive candidate information. Then, deliver.

For example, when you find talent that you know aligns well with their ideal candidate persona, send their information to your client’s applicant tracking system the moment they’re ready to start assessing.


Learn what your candidates expect for total compensation. This way, you can determine what roles won’t fit them and what clients you want to match them with. You don’t want to waste your candidate’s or your client’s time by trying to match them even though they have different expectations of compensation.


What makes each of your candidates stand out? Every job seeker has a unique set of skills, education, and personality that sets them apart.

Help your candidates develop their own personal brand and create a strong online presence. This is similar to employment branding because often times, a candidate’s online presence is their first impression they make aside from their resume.


improve online presence

When your candidates create an online presence, you can share it with your clients who have social recruiting strategies. They can reach out and engage with them on social media.

Prepare Company Profiles

You candidates need to understand the importance of a tailored resume. CareerBuilder’s August 2015 survey found 61 percent of employers want a customized resume to an open position.

When your clients are assessing candidates, they’re looking for resumes that speak directly to them. Boilerplate, generic resumes are easy to spot and are quick to be tossed in the trash can.

To help your candidates customize their resumes to your client and the prospective role, you need to empower your candidates with information about the company. Instead of just telling your candidates to look up employers they align with, prepare a detailed profile for each client you work with.

Highlight company values and culture information. Use your client’s online presence to research what it’s like to work for them. Then compile the content you find into a unique company profile. When your client expresses interest in a candidate for a specific role, point out three important aspects of the role that the candidate needs to focus on.

Let’s say your client posts a client relations manager position. If you leave the candidate to his own devices, he may just send his boilerplate resume. He’ll likely assume he’s qualified, so his real ‘in’ is the interview. You don’t want to have another Jim situation on your hands.

Instead, you want to consult your candidate and show him how to promote his value in a way that your client wants to hear more about it. Show him that he should emphasize his experience in a leadership role he earned in a previous job. Then, he needs to prove his knowledge of the industry if he expects an interview.

The third aspect you want him to focus on is his expertise in building and maintaining positive relationships with clients. He can share personal stories of this in his cover letter and on his blog.

Be a Storyteller

job search obstaclesA 2015 LinkedIn
report found that 49 percent of candidates say their top obstacle is not knowing what it’s like to work at a company. This is where you come in.  

People gravitate toward good stories. We pick up on recognizable patterns, relate to the experiences shared, and find meaning in the narrative.

Give your candidates a deeper connection with your clients. Request your client share a real example of how a previous employee succeeded in the open role. Then, with their permission, share that story with candidates you think align with both the role and the company culture.

Highlight the main takeaways of the success story so your candidate sees why they too can be successful in the role. This helps them visualize what the work is like and gives them a better understanding of how your client defines success.

It also gives your candidate aspects to focus on when they apply and interview. These stories can influence the interviewing tips you offer. If your client defines success as an employee who goes above and beyond, then encourage candidates to share their own stories where they put in the extra work and accomplished an important goal.

Coach your candidates on how to tell their stories effectively through video interviews. Practice common questions, help them identify their main talking points, and highlight how body language impacts their messaging. These video interviews are a great tool for introducing your candidates in a more personal way, allowing them to tell stories that demonstrate their value to your clients.

Build Confidence

Confidence is your candidate’s best tool during their job search. You want to help them develop and maintain a good amount of confidence.

Here’s a look at the steps you need to guide your candidates to a more confident interaction with potential employers:

1. Research the company profile and then dig deeper.

The more they know about the organization, the easier it is for them to visualize not just earning the job and joining your client’s team, but also succeeding in the position. Encourage them to review the potential employer’s company profile, but don’t stop there. Dig deeper for clues of how well they fit and how far they can climb.

2. Practice visualization exercises.

Train candidates to see themselves doing well, following your interviewing tips, earning a job offer, and succeeding at the job. They should be using all of their senses when they conjure mental imagery so they feel like their successes are actually happening.

3. Adjust perspective.

It’s so easy for stressed out candidates to worry and feel like they’re not enough during a job search, especially when it’s for a long period of time. Remind them about the importance of focusing on the specific ways they contribute value. This way, they won’t desperately force themselves to bend to fit a role.

4. Focus on the three key qualifiers.

Your candidate should be reviewing the skills, experience, and values they have that your client wants. Helping them focus on these three aspects gets their mind off of worrying about trying to be someone they’re not. As a staffing professional, you know they fit the role and the culture of your client’s company.

5. Get writing.

Encourage candidates to write a few anecdotes that demonstrate the value they bring. Examples can include stories of them leading a team project, collaborating and coordinating a volunteer event, or participating in a creative brainstorming session.

Use these anecdotes in cover letters. You want them to share relevant stories in their cover letter so your clients are interested in interviewing them.

6. Practice interview questions.

This is where you can share your best interviewing tips. Teach them about the importance of good body language and how they should address certain questions. Use video interview technology to record their practice sessions and give them pointers on showing their confidence.

The more time and energy you invest in empowering your candidates, the less time you will spend helping people like Jim find new opportunities. You know the value of your candidates. Help each of them prove their value, earn interviews, and land their dream jobs with your clients.

How are you connecting candidates with your clients in an efficient way?

Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.