Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire
candidate sourcing

Brush Up! Sourcing Candidates for Clients Requires Better Communication Acumen

You’ve followed all the trends for sourcing candidates and know the hottest tips for preparing talent to wow your clients in video interviews and in-person. In fact, you’ve improved on some of them.

You have lists of what candidates should say to stand out and know all the red flags to catch when screening applicants. This knowledge is invaluable when your focus is on convincing your clients to move candidates through their hiring process. But what happens when the tables turn?

When job seekers control the market and talent is scarce, sourcing candidates for your clients’ open roles becomes a game of roulette. Unfortunately, you can’t afford to roll the dice with how you communicate with talent.

It’s time for you to refresh your Dos and Don’ts when sourcing candidates to ensure you’re choosing your words and ways of connecting with top talent wisely.

Job descriptions

The job details you post set the tone for how candidates view your client’s company and culture. Obviously, you want to be sure your job description wording aligns with the client’s tone on their website and social media. But small tweaks to add flair and grab the attention of top talent may actually be turning candidates away from your open roles.

X Don’t Overload requirements with clichés

A few common cliches you should avoid include words like “dynamic,” “ fast-paced,” and “passionate.” These words may seem energetic and magnetic, but they really don’t tell candidates what the job is like. In fact, they may even come across as more overwhelming than you intend.

✔ Do – Share clear/concise details

Candidates want to know if they need to be flexible or if the job will keep them busy so they can decide if the role fits their personality and will keep them motivated. They may not be “passionate” about being a production line worker, receptionist, or web developer, necessarily, but if the job requires an enthusiastic employee who applies themselves in whatever they do, just say that.

X Don’t – Use biased descriptors

You may think your job descriptions are trendy and will excite candidates if you suggest they are keyboard ninjas or accounting Jedis, but these word choices could actually marginalize your applicants. Even general gender terminology can impact your reach and accessibility.

✔ Do – Make inclusive or neutral terms your default

Rather than saying the job requires that he/she be ________. Say something like, “The job requires you to be skilled in X applications.” Speaking directly to applicants helps them visualize themselves in the role and keeps the option available to anyone of any gender or ability to apply.

X Don’t – Include boring or vague buzzwords

Conceptualize, synergize, optimize – These words have one thing in common: well, they rhyme but they also complicate something simple (and important) you’re trying to communicate to candidates. Applicants shouldn’t have to pull out a thesaurus to decide if they relate to your client’s job openings. In fact, if they can’t understand what you want from them, they will quickly move on to the next job listing.

✔ Do – Be specific and relatable

Speaking over candidates’ heads or avoiding certain questions at any point in the interview process leaves a poor impression. The language you use in clients’ job descriptions should be forthcoming and easy to understand. You should always be as specific as possible about need-to-know information. For example, rather than saying salary is competitive, share the exact range clients have provided you.

Initial outreach

The first messages you send when sourcing candidates sets the tone for how talent responds to your staffing strategy. This impacts how well you connect with candidates and secure reliable talent for open roles now and in the future.

X Don’t – Exaggerate or fabricate your connections

You want promising candidates to open and respond to your emails. But they know a fraud when they see one. It doesn’t bode well for you or your clients if you come off as dishonest. Finding a direct connection or group and using it as leverage to gain candidates’ interest without any actual substance or sincerity to your commonality is suspicious. Candidates are bound to wonder what else about the experience or job is not as it appears.

✔ Do – Share specifically how you’re familiar

Be sincere and specific about what motivated you to reach out. Did you notice you have similar connections or interests? Did you happen to read some of the content they published? Maybe you simply clicked to review their public details because they have the right keywords in their LinkedIn profile or personal branding webpage. Don’t be afraid to share this information. It helps candidates know what they are doing right, and they’ll be happy to have caught your interest.

X Don’t – Use a bunch of marketing terms

Similar to stuffing your job descriptions with clichés and buzzwords, candidates know when you’re trying to ‘sell’ them an open role — and they may wonder why you’re trying so hard. Exaggerating the opportunity and sounding like a cold call sales rep will cause top talent to put you on the ‘do not call’ list.

✔ Do – Be personal and authentic

Rather than trying to sell clients’ open roles to candidates, try to help them connect with them. Look for interests top candidates share on their social media profiles and contact them about jobs that speak to their passions. Does your client support a charitable cause the candidate cares about? Tell them how joining your client’s team can help them make a bigger difference. Be real with talent and show them why they are the right fit.

X Don’t – Overwhelm candidates with emails/messages

You may be able to see your message was read but not responded to. Or maybe, you assume your unclicked email was caught in their junk filter. You think it won’t hurt to reach out again — then, maybe just once more. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic number to how many times a candidate can be contacted before it feels like they are being spammed.

✔ Do – Invite talent to connect and plan to check-in

If you’re making effective connections when you reach out the first time, more than likely, candidates will respond to express their interest or say, ‘no thank you.’ If you’re constantly on the receiving end of radio silence, you should adjust your approach. Reach out showing your personal, authentic, and honest intentions. Then invite the candidate to respond. Offer for them to put themselves into your calendar if they’d like to interview. Be direct about when you will check-in and commit to following through, then move on if they do not show interest.

Screening interviews

The initial interviews can be intimidating for talent. They get one chance to make a good first impression. Similarly, you should be keenly aware of how your screening process affects the candidate experience because you’re responsible for the candidate’s initial impressions of your client’s hiring process as well.

X Don’t – Ask questions that invite biased assessments

There are certain ways to word questions that while you may seem to filter talent faster, you actually create a biased screening process. For example, you could have an initial impression of a candidate that you unconsciously look for confirmation of. This can go both ways. You may phrase questions in a way that convinces you or other decision-makers to focus on a failure. Worse yet, you could look for ways to bury negative traits or experiences in favor of moving through an undeserving candidate.

✔ Do – Structure questions fairly for all candidates

Creating a list of structured questions that work to reveal required skills and traits for a variety of roles with simple customization is the easiest way to avoid biased language. Candidates recognize when the interview process feels fair and unbiased. Their impression of your interview questions impacts how they perceive the fairness of your client’s hiring process. Setting a positive tone from the start ensures candidates feel comfortable and confident and benefit from feedback they receive.

X Don’t – Ask too many questions in the early stages

Candidates are unlikely to see the hiring process through if it’s too long or complicated. If you start out asking too many unnecessary questions during the initial screening process, candidates burn out.  And you risk later stages becoming repetitive or even irrelevant as interviewers grasp for questions.

✔ Do – Ask exactly what you need to filter candidates accurately

Narrow your early screening questions to filter candidates based on whatever criterion is most important for fit to your clients. This helps save candidates time determining whether a company or role meets their requirements as well. The more time you save getting the right talent in front of clients, the better the experience is for everyone.

X Don’t – Give candidates false impressions

You want top talent to be excited to interview for your client’s open roles but you need to be cautious not to give talent inaccurate impressions about the job, company, or culture. Responding overly enthusiastically to their requests or making promises your client isn’t able to keep not only sours candidates against your clients but also interviewing again with you and your staffing firm.

✔ Do – Be clear about your role and the client’s processes

You can be encouraging for candidates without risking misleading or letting anyone down. There will be times you have to inform candidates you cannot move them on as quickly as they hoped, or maybe a client is not offering the starting salary or benefits they prefer. Being clear about how the hiring process will progress and in what ways their performance in interviews could determine when they could receive an offer (or rejection) helps candidates set realistic expectations.

Follow-up emails

Email is an effective way to stay connected with busy candidates. Not everyone has time for a quick phone call, but finding a reassuring or informative email waiting in your inbox when you’re wondering about the interview process keeps stress at bay. The key is ensuring the emails you distribute when sourcing candidates for clients communicate the right messages.

X Don’t – Send automated emails

You can spot them a mile away, and so can candidates. No one wants urgent requests to be met with dismissive robot responses. If you only answer emails at certain times or on certain days, share this information in your initial outreach email, on your LinkedIn profile, and social media pages so talent knows approximately when they can expect to hear back from you.

And when you’re sending out messages to source top talent, be sure your messages are customized. Even if you use a canned template to structure your emails, they should still flow conversationally and include personal details individual candidates can relate to.

✔ Do – Take time to customize your responses, even rejections

Every candidate deserves the few moments it takes to prepare a personal response. This goes for the candidates you and your clients reject as well. Customizing your emails means more than plugging the candidate’s name into a canned response.

Try to include something specific from the interview you noticed they did exceptionally well. And if you have a tip you can share for them to improve for their next interview (whether they are moving on or receiving their notice to exit the hiring process), candidates will appreciate the initiative you take to connect with them as people instead of placements.

X Don’t – Leave talent in the dark

Clients are busy. Candidates are busy. Your team is busy. But you are the binding thread that brings everything together from sourcing candidates through screening to making candidate recommendations, and finally funneling top talent into your clients’ hiring processes.

You cannot afford to go dark on talent. If you’re not going to have feedback for candidates when you suggested they would hear from you, at least communicate the delay. No news is not good news when it comes to the interview process.

✔ Do – Make brief but valuable check-ins

Set time in your schedule to check in with talent during the talent sourcing and screening process. This may require sorting your list of leads and candidates and setting days or times each week to email one group or another. Even better, you could record and send out short video messages with some quick tips or a brief update from the client. They take only minutes to record and make a lasting impression on talent.

X Don’t – One-and-done engagement with top candidates

There can only be one…one hire for each open role, of course. But the relationship shouldn’t end with one interview process for one client for one open role. When candidates put time and energy into responding to your queries, waiting for your emails, and answering your questions, they expect more from you. If they don’t care to hear from you again, you’re doing it wrong.

✔ Do – Create meaningful connections with talent

As each new candidate enters your staffing process, you should work to build a meaningful relationship. They may be hired in this round. But it may not be their forever job. They may be a silver-medalist, and you’ll likely want to keep them on your radar for the next best job opening. They may just show a lot of potential and be eager to grow and develop their skills so you’ll want to keep track as they advance on their career path.

No matter how each candidate stacks up against the current role you’re filling, they likely have qualities worth a second glance. And the only way you can reevaluate them for the next job is to keep them in your talent pool. This means nurturing your relationships with candidates over time.

Transform Your Placement Process with Video Interviewing

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.