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Best Practices for Emailing Candidates to Stay in Touch

by | Oct 22, 2014 | Recruiter Training, Top Echelon Blog

In my previous blog post, I wrote about why it is so important to keep the candidates in your applicant tracking system current . . . really current!

You can increase your candidate shelf-life through contact management like email, in particular, but remember to limit your efforts.  After all, emailing candidates a message that says, in so many words, “I want to know how to reach you!” can backfire when interpreted by a candidate as a self-serving ploy by a recruiter.

We can include several things in the email message that give the right impression and adds value to the candidate who receives it:

  • Articles that offer career and interview advice
  • A simple newsletter that provides advice on career moves, such as getting a promotion or raise
  • Lists of Internet sites and hyper-links of interest to professionals
  • A questionnaire on what they would like to see in working with a recruiter
  • Resume tune-up tips

How we manage the results and secondary efforts can determine the larger part of our success in keeping current with candidates.

My experience shows that about 70% of a database is comprised of “lost sheep”  candidates. Sending out one email will often prove this to be true.

The second effort to find them includes sending another message to their alternative emails.  Many Internet browsers and websites offer email locator programs that can prove helpful in identifying a second or third email address, or a candidate’s website.  (My paper carrier even has one!)

A word of caution: emailing candidates at their place of employment runs the risk of it being reviewed by others and could jeopardize that candidate’s position, or at minimum, damage their superior’s opinion of their loyalty.

Exercise great due diligence in gaining permission and clearance when emailing candidates at their place of work.  In the effort to locate and update a candidate in the database, it is advisable to call their last-known employer instead of sending an email.

The recommended frequency of contacting our candidates to maintain a current record is every 30-60 days.  When we include valuable attachments that are helpful to each candidate on a professional and personal level, they will start looking for them and be the first to contact you and let you know they were missed.

At what point do we try other means?  I believe in the rule of three: after the third email we make a few calls to former employers and contacts, perhaps references given to us.  Sometimes we get lucky and find the person through old employer contacts.  Sometimes we hit the delete key.

Finally, I am not suggesting that a recruiter to compromise valuable prime-time activities and efforts to handle this process.

Administrative assistance is your best bet.   The recruiters and owners should review the results as they come in, advise on the next steps when another fails, and finally make the investigative calls to follow up on the ones that seemed to fall through the cracks.

Many secondary opportunities lie within those calls to recruit candidates, initiate client relationships, and discover new contacts.

Many candidates get lost in the shuffle.  Some just disappear below our radar screens.  As search practitioners, we can dramatically increase the number of candidates we retain in our active records by simply staying in touch.

A candidate, once recruited and subsequently lost through neglect, is an opportunity lost.  Emailing candidates and following up on the few that slip between the cracks and assuring absolute currency in our proprietary databases will make us more competitive in a candidate-driven marketplace.

As our candidate pool shrinks at a historically high rate, we cannot allow any loss that is within the reach of practical effort.  Use recruiter best practices to keep what you find fresh and watch your network grow organically as a result.

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Doug Beabout, CPC, a guest writer for the Top Echelon Recruiter Training Blog, has a career that spans 20 years of expertise in recruiting, personnel services, firm ownership, and training.  His tenure in recruiting includes building four highly successful businesses and establishing hundreds for others worldwide.  Beabout speaks to state, regional, and private recruiter associations.  He is a consultant to many corporations and personnel firms.  Beabout is currently owner and president of The Douglas Howard Group, a professional recruiting firm, and conducts several online training programs for recruiters and researchers.  He can be reached at 850.424.6933 or via email at

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