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10 Steps to Building an Outstanding Recruiter-Candidate Relationship

Alexander Costello
03 October 2017 Written by Alexander Costello

Maintaining a quality recruiter-candidate relationship shouldn't be described as a best practice, but instead, as a necessity.

Maintaining a quality recruiter-candidate relationship shouldn't be described as a best practice, but instead, as a necessity.

Hiring success is largely based on attracting talented candidates through a strong recruitment marketing strategy.. By utilising essential recruiter-candidate relationship processes, you will not only improve your candidate interactions but possess the ability to tap into highly qualified talent pools for future openings.

We have pooled our resources and asked our team what relationship qualities they found important in the recruitment process and what they would expect from a recruiter. Consider these 10 steps as your indispensable pocket guide to building a strong recruiter-candidate relationship that lasts.

Here, then, are the best practices every recruitment consultant cannot go without.


1. Transparency


 This is the foundation upon which all successful recruiter-candidate relationships are born. Both parties need to be transparent about what they want as an end-results.

For example, a candidate needs to be transparent with what they’re looking for in their next role, the things they do in their current role and their (realistic) hopes for advancement. We emphasise realism here, because not all hopes are achievable.

Here, the onus is on the consultant to be likewise transparent with the candidate. If the candidate’s skill set is ill-fitted to a role they want (or perhaps they do not have enough experience) then the consultant has to be honest.

Ghosting (defined as some party cutting off all communication in the recruitment process) is something many recruitment agencies have been guilty of. Don’t let this be you! Honesty is much more appreciated, rather than leaving the candidate in the dark.

2. Communication


Without clear and coherent communication, many of the other sections here will be of no good. As with any business relationship, good communication is a must-have.

Consider the avenues of communication your consultants can go down, and look to catering for the candidate. If you know the candidate prefers speaking on the phone than emailing, then a good consultant will make that happen.

Maybe, as a consideration, your consultants could ask the candidates how they want the process to take shape. It will endear you to the candidate, and from there a healthy, straightforward recruitment process can take place.

3. Trust


Another vital ingredient of this relationship management process is trust. Think about it: the recruiter has a direct hand in the candidate’s future, declaring to the world that they’re qualified to do so.

This is no light claim!

For such reasons, the candidate has to wholeheartedly trust the recruiter to handle the process. Both parties are investing time in the other, and that is the most valuable commodity to the job-seeker.

4. Openness


A good candidate-consultant relationship is predicated on the notion that both parties are open with each other. This goes for general business relationships as well as those in recruitment.

In the search process, the candidate has to demonstrate openness to criticism in order to improve their interviewing skills. It’s all part of the process.

On the other hand, the consultant has to accept when a certain role just isn’t right for the candidate. It creates a simple square peg/round hole conundrum. It’s no good forcing the wrong opportunity as it may tarnish the relationship altogether.

5. Rapport


It’s incredibly beneficial, and healthy, for a consultant to build rapport with their candidate. It injects a bit of fun into the process, and it may be needed given that the candidate is looking for a new start!

It also helps the relationship grow from something purely formal, or transactional into a fully-fledged candidate relationship. Achieving this particular section usually has a knock-on effect with the other sections of this blog.

If you build rapport, everything else will follow (and much quicker!).

6. Knowledge


Remember: as recruitment agencies, you are the ones with all the knowledge. You have insight into a number of industries (or, a particular one if you’re specialist) and know the kinds of skills many businesses will be looking for.

That said, a fair amount of knowledge comes from the candidate, too. They know what they’re good at, the skills they have acquired, and the way in which they go about their work.

This kind of candidate intuition is invaluable to the recruiter, as it informs the kind of roles that would suit the candidate. The industry, too - some are better suited to some industries than others.

7. Time


Last of all, we address arguably the most important resource: time.

Time can mean managing deadlines with your candidate, making the job search more efficient, or spending time more wisely.

As mentioned earlier, time is worth its weight in gold for someone looking for a new role. Candidates and consultants both need to give each other the time to realise a successful recruitment procedure.

In business transactions, the importance of time cannot be underestimated. For a recruiter, it’s vital. Time can be harnessed to a recruiter’s best potential to fully hone in on the best roles for candidates.

8. Tailoring Your Approach


As we mentioned earlier in our communication section, consultants need to be tailoring their approach in accord with the type of candidate they’re dealing with.

This means altering your approach to suit the candidate in question. If they have particular requirements as to when they can be contacted, for example - then take that into consideration.

It involves getting to know the candidate, and having a clear understanding of who they are as people, not just candidates.

Of course, this swings the other way. It’s a mutual understanding between two individuals.

9. Humanise


Make your candidates shine and be their advocate. Let them reach their full potential by showing you are rooting for them.

Give them as much information as possible. Help them prepare for their interview, email information such as hiring policies and interview processes, send them sample questions, and share business insights such as company culture.

Remember, helping candidates to succeed will reinforce that strong recruiter-candidate relationship you’ve been building.

10. Balance


Finally, combine points 1 to 9 above.

Finding the right balance between implementing each relationship process can mean the difference between a positive and a negative recruiter-candidate relationship.

Don't overload the candidate with excess bundles of information, give them the necessities. Keep communication open such as follow-up emails, but don’t bombard their inbox in a spammy and irritating way.

Successful candidate nurture rests on engaging candidates in an efficient, effective way and keeping the relationship on the right track.


Being a great recruiter means more than just ticking the right boxes. It stems to a personal, deeper level between the recruiter and the candidate.

By ensuring the recruiter-candidate relationship you develop is built on these foundations, you will be well on your way to delivering candidates a great experience.

The quality of candidate relationships should never be taken for granted. They are the bread and butter of the recruitment world!

Is your communication suffering?

Download our free email marketing toolkit. You'll find tips to improve your emails along with free templates you can use right away - to turn those deletes into opens. 

Building a relationship with your candidates is just one element of a successful marketing strategy for recruiters. 

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