Increasing Candidate Shelf-Life (Part 1 of 2)

The most neglected resource in the personnel services industry is our database of candidates. The database is also commonly considered the most valuable material asset we possess.

Most owners and practitioners would admit that they could do a much better job of keeping their candidate records current. Those same industry professionals believe that 70% of the candidates in their records are current. The reality is most databases are only 20%-39% current at best.

Many of us have extensive candidate databases containing thousands of records. The daunting task of calling them all and maintaining current information on the majority of them is often cause for doing nothing.

The incidental search through the database to seek a fit for a current search most often results in a lost candidate. He or she has moved on and left no forwarding address with us least of all, a current telephone number.

Occasionally, we get lucky. We find someone at a previous employer who can lead us to our “lost sheep.” Usually it is a dead end resulting in a deleted candidate.

We also lose many other valuable benefits of continuing current communication with candidates. First, we are not gaining the referrals they can provide.

Second, those in a hiring capacity are probably working with your competitor who stayed in touch. Third, our presence in our niche shrinks everyday as our candidates fade away from benign neglect.

The majority of our candidates (estimated by some to be 90% or more) have email addresses. Many have more than one email address. This recruiter has about seven. Most of us know that contacting old friends and acquaintances by the occasional email message is a commonplace practice today.

A simple and inexpensive process will keep our records current and reap all the rewards they can provide. This process requires existing basic resources, such as:

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  • A reasonably updated desktop or portable computer system
  • Internet access (cable modem or DSL based access preferred)
  • Email management software (several exist such as Outlook, Outlook Express, etc.)
  • Administrative assistance

The process requires the recruiter to obtain the email address of every candidate. Most current recruiter specific, desktop management programs and database programs accommodate email addresses or are modified easily to record them. Once each address is entered into the email management program in the address book, the process of sending emails is as simple as sending the group you select.

Send them in groups of like disciplines and similar income ranges. Try to send out groups of 100 at a time. These transmissions of emails can be sent automatically after business hours to minimize cost and the monopolization of fax/modem lines. Your ISP may also prefer bulk emailing to occur during non-primetime hours in consideration of bandwidth usage.

These email messages should contain a simple message stating your desire to stay in close contact and keep the candidate aware of the best opportunities for which they may have an interest in pursuing.

Candidates love recruiters who really do stay in touch. Most say so, and then disappear until they need that candidate again. This process molds the candidate perception of our efforts as a positive one.

They will appreciate our efforts to keep them in “THE LOOP.”

In part 2 tomorrow, Doug will explain what to say in these emails to be sincere and to make the best use of your time.

Doug Beabout?s recruiting career spans 20 years of expertise in recruiting, personnel services firm ownership, and training. His tenure in recruiting includes building four highly successful recruiting businesses and establishing hundreds for others worldwide. He speaks to state, regional, and private recruiter associations. He is a consultant to many corporations and personnel firms. He 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


1 Comment on “Increasing Candidate Shelf-Life (Part 1 of 2)

  1. If you want to keep email information for your contacts current: You know how you can often guess the email address of a contact if you have the name and where they work now, by trying “” or similar? I’ve built a little site that collects these tricks:

    Hope this helps.

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