Have IT Staffing Firms Forgotten About Candidate Control?


We’re in a turbulent marketplace right now, this much is clear. We frequently hear terms like “war on talent,” “purple squirrels,” and “a candidate driven market” from our clients in the IT staffing space. Many of them are seeing increased occurrences of false starts, drop offs and rate wars. There’s no question that top tech talent is extremely difficult to find. So how can IT staffing and recruiting firms source, place and retain the best talent for their clients in the current business climate? We believe that the best answer is sometimes the simplest: get back to basics and start practicing better candidate control.

Thirty or forty years ago, candidate control was a staple strategy at every recruiting agency and head-hunting firm. Today, however, with more and more tools and resources at our fingertips, clients often expect faster results, turning the staffing industry into a speed game versus a quality game. With this in mind, we know it’s time to execute on the key critical steps in maintaining candidate control throughout the recruitment process.

1. Meet your candidate.

Whether it is in person at your office, at a local coffee shop, or a video meeting, it is vital to get a face-to-face interaction with every candidate you plan on submitting to a client. With candidates receiving numerous calls from recruiters in this high-demand market, one way to differentiate yourself is to make that face-to-face introduction. It’s what sets a staffing agency apart from all the other companies that are just slinging paperwork and have no interest in actually getting to know the candidate.

Not to mention, being able to look at the person across the table will provide you with a better understanding of how serious the candidate is about your client’s opportunity. If your candidate is reluctant to meet, even via a web conference, you should be seriously thinking about walking away from them. It’s likely there’ll be issues down the line if they aren’t willing to work with you on a face-to-face basis.

2. Find out about other offers

When presenting a candidate to your client, it should go without saying that you need to have all the facts on hand about that candidate. A critical piece of that puzzle is knowing what other offers, opportunities or employment scenarios are on your candidate’s radar.

Although some candidates may not be willing to share that information, it’s up to you to build that level of trust in the relationship to gain that insight. It’s vital information to knowing the probability of a false start or drop off that may occur after your client presents a job offer to your candidate. If he or she does choose to share that information with you, you can take the opportunity to help them assess their options in relation to your client’s offer.

3. Prep your candidate

People in general are interviewing far more frequently these days than they were 25 or more years ago, when employees stuck with their employers for the long run. Because of this change, many candidates seem to have interviewing down to a science.

However, it’s still important to spend some time walking your candidate through the specifics of the interview. Not only can you provide some valuable advice based on your insight into your client’s interview process, it also allows you to spend more time interacting with your candidate, securing your investment in the relationship. If a candidate isn’t willing to listen to your advice, it’s likely they’re not as interested in the opportunity as they led you to believe.

4. Pre-close your candidate

Pre-closing the candidate has become a lost art. A vital part of the process is to mentally prepare your candidate for the job offer and the role with your client. This achieves two things: first, it reveals the candidate’s honest intent (or lack thereof) to take the position, and second, it strengthens the candidate control factor, getting you closer to making a successful placement.

Pre-closing also allows you to uncover any potential roadblocks that may pop up in the process. In this scenario, you can prepare both the candidate and the client before possible obstacles blow up into larger issues. Presenting “if-then” scenarios and questions to your candidate will help you get closer to the end result.

5. Collect references

It’s no secret that many organizations have trained their recruiters to maximize available opportunities when it comes to reference checking, including drumming up new business and identifying new candidates. While there is valuable networking opportunity in the reference check process, it’s something that takes careful handling. Your candidate assumes you’ll use references for actually checking references; when you go beyond that purpose, you risk violating implied boundaries.

Having said that, getting references is important not only to vet the candidate and their qualifications, but also to continue to build the candidate relationship. If a candidate isn’t willing to provide references or is tight-lipped about who they’ve worked with, then either the candidate is hiding something or they don’t trust you enough. Either way, it’s a red flag.

6. Cover all the variables

There are so many factors in play when a candidate considers accepting a position with your client. For starters, they likely need buy-in from various family members, in addition to also taking into account their location and commute, working hours and flexibility, personal interests outside of work and more. It can’t be understated that any of these variables can become a roadblock in the placement process if you aren’t aware of it first.

It takes a trusting relationship and special skill to bridge the conversation from work-related specifics into more personal territory. Truly getting to know a candidate and building a long-term relationship necessarily includes a personal element. Achieve this successfully and these long-term relationships will gain you life-long trust as you grow your own staffing career while also providing you a valuable stream of referrals.

Do you practice candidate control?

Candidate control is akin to building a house. A supportive foundation is critical to a well-established structure. With candidate control, if you aren’t building the foundation for the relationship and getting all of the facts required to put yourself in a great position of opportunity, then the house will tumble. In this candidate-driven market, candidate control is more vital than ever to growing a thriving business and eliminating risk and loss of credibility with your client.

Yes, we are a marketing agency, but we deeply understand staffing and recruiting because we’ve lived it. We’re happy to share with you how many other staffing firms just like yours are reaching prospects and candidates in this evolving market. Just reach out today so we can learn more about you.