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Why The Best Recruiters Have Strong Candidate Relationships

Recruiting is a people business where connections really matter. That’s particularly true during a time when job seekers have the edge as employers navigate an increasingly competitive hiring landscape. Recruiters who are able to make and maintain strong connections with candidates—even those who may not have gotten the job offer (this time!)—are those who can most consistently deliver value to their clients.

The way to set yourself apart from the competition is through effective, ongoing, and transparent communication. Recruiters need to establish connections that are more than purely transactional. They need to make genuine connections with candidates in a meaningful way at every stage of the hiring process—and even beyond.

This requires a focus on the human touch even in an environment that is increasingly fueled by technology enabling remote interactions.

Making Connections

Even before a job opportunity emerges, recruiters can connect with and engage potential candidates. LinkedIn is likely one of the best places to do this. LinkedIn makes it easy to search for the types of candidates you may be looking for and to reach out to connect with them.

When you do, be relaxed, comfortable and informal. These interactions should feel like a conversation, not an inquisition, or rote transaction. You don’t want to come across as a robot. You want to come across as the living, breathing, and caring individual that you are—someone who could be a valuable connection now and in the future.

Honesty is Everything

Be transparent—and honest. “Hi, I’m a recruiter working in the XYZ industry and always looking for top talent to connect with. You never know when an opportunity might emerge. Even if you’re not currently in the job market, I’d love to connect with you and add you to my network.”

You’ll be surprised at how many people will respond positively to a warm, open and friendly invitation.

Of course, when the rubber meets the road is when you reach out with an actual job opportunity. Here, again, transparency and genuineness go a long way to build relationships.

Building Relationships During the Recruitment Process

Top candidates likely receive a number of inquiries from recruiters these days especially if they have hard to find skills and talent. Despite the competitive landscape, though, it’s important to be proactive but not pushy. Listen carefully to each candidate’s feedback about what they’re looking for and why—and only follow up with them when opportunities meet their needs.

For instance, today more and more candidates are being very picky about how they prefer to work—many say they’re only interested in 100% remote jobs, some will consider hybrid opportunities. Fewer say they would be interested in jobs that require them to be on premise all of the time. Don’t keep pushing on-site jobs to candidates who have made it very clear they’re not interested.

Communication is Key (even if they don’t get the job)

Once you’ve connected with a candidate who has expressed interest in a position, one very important way to stand out from the crowd during the recruitment process it to keep the lines of communication open. Too often candidates will complain that their recruiters didn’t keep them informed or, worse, that they were ghosted at some point during the process. That’s a very short-sighted approach to take. After all, you never know when the next job that may be a perfect fit for a candidate may emerge.

According to, 77% of job candidates say that they’ve been ghosted at some point during the hiring process. That represents a significant opportunity for recruiters to stand out by committing to keeping the lines of communication open with candidates every step of the way.

There are many touchpoints that offer an opportunity to build relationships with candidates: keeping them informed of timelines, following up after an interview to get their thoughts and feedback, letting them know if they’ve been put on a “short list”—or, if they’re no longer under consideration. That kind of transparency can go a long way with candidates who may be disappointed about not getting a job but who will still appreciate your candor.

That said, it’s also important—and a very good competitive best practice—to stay in touch with candidates who didn’t get the job.

Maintaining Relationships Post Job Offer

Maintaining relationships requires attention and being proactive. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean following up about a job opportunity. It may simply mean forwarding an interesting article on the hiring process, job market, or another topic you know the candidate is interested in—just letting them know that they’re still top of mind.


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