The Holiday Candidate Snatch-up

Anyone who has been recruiting for the last five-plus years has likely experienced the holiday candidate snatch-up. Most veteran recruiters understand that recruiting, unlike other professions, doesn’t take a break over the holidays as candidates and hiring managers are both unique and unpredictable.

Some hiring managers have an abundance of down time during this period, making it the perfect opportunity to interview and maybe even hire while a competitor is on vacation.

Though everyone needs some time off and has family obligations throughout the holiday, if prepared ahead of time, every recruiter has the opportunity to block an opponent snatcher, if not to be a snatcher themselves. Losing a candidate to another recruiter over the holidays can be avoided if certain precautions are set in place.

Preparing to be the candidate snatcher is a great offensive strategy. This does not involve working full time throughout PTO over the holidays, but more so preparing ahead of time with the hiring manager. Always connect with each hiring manager prior to Christmas and New Years to see what their availability is, as they could be the top tier candidate snatcher this year.

If they have a few different people on their team they would like to include on their interview panel, try connecting with those folks if they are going to be traveling out of the office for vacation just to see if they would be willing to log in for one hour to interview a candidate over a virtual meeting or conference line. If a candidate is local, have them come into the office to meet with the hiring manager in person while some of the other interviewers are on a virtual meeting. This is not a huge thing to ask of an interviewer, and the worst they can do is say no. It is, after all, a benefit for each team member to gain a new person on their team for the New Year.

Once meetings over the holidays are set, check email on a mobile phone or tablet a couple of times a day if there are holiday interviews scheduled. But this doesn’t mean anyone needs to be at their computer working all day long. Make sure to check email and voice mail just in case a hiring manager scheduled to interview does decide to make an offer, as closing a candidate over the holidays could be beneficial to blocking counteroffers as well as competitor offers when the competition is nowhere to be found.

More important than preparing to be the snatcher is avoiding a snatching competitor. There are some simple steps any recruiter can take to block the snatching success of a competitor ahead of time.

First, know the status of each candidate in the current interview pipeline. These are the top candidates who it is known for certain the hiring manager will want to interview.

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Pick up the phone rather than just sending an email, and have a “live” conversation with each of them before Christmas Eve. The live contact is essential in securing the relationship with any candidate, especially this time of the year. During this conversation, find out if they have any interview plans the week between Christmas and the new year, as that is the week that is the most dangerous, believe it or not. If they do, talk to them about ways to postpone accepting an offer, and discuss some benefits your company has to persuade them to hold off on making decisions over the break.

Then, make a list to have readily available on a mobile device with all current candidate names, emails, phone numbers, and hiring manager information. This could be incredibly handy for connecting with them quickly over the holiday break.

Second, think about sending each of them two or three emails over the holidays. This could include just a simple, “wishing you happy holidays” email or even “happy new year’s.” Regardless of the message, make sure it is sincere in nature so they know they are valued as a candidate. Sending them an appropriate holiday e-card could go a long way. This is of course in addition to that “live” phone call that needs to happen.

Finally, make sure to keep them up to date as to where they are in the interview process. Try to press the hiring manager for their decision timeline and then relay as much of that information as possible to the candidate so they can gauge how long the process is going to take.

The biggest ally for any recruiter during the holidays is preparation. Being a candidate snatcher during the holidays is great accomplishment; however, defending against competitor snatchers is of a far greater importance. Not every hiring manager is willing to interview this time of the year, so the best offense against a competitor candidate snatcher is to have a strong defense.

Ryan Phillips is a technical writer & sourcing researcher at AIRS. She lives in Helena, Montana. Joining AIRS in 2010, she transitioned to the role from the internal recruiting team at The RightThing. Phillips began her recruiting career working for a technical recruitment staffing firm in the Silicon Valley, where she recruited for IT, Engineering, Marketing, and Accounting. She later moved into the RPO field, where she did mainly niche engineering recruitment for Microsoft. She works on curriculum development for all AIRS courses, including the industry-leading AIRS Certification classes. She also continues to consult with RPO clients on their social media branding strategies, as well as support the internal RightThing sourcing team to develop client specific sourcing strategies.


4 Comments on “The Holiday Candidate Snatch-up

  1. These are some great tips to avoid having all your best candidates snatched up over the holidays. Many great candidates are still looking throughout the holidays, meaning if you prepare you can nab the top talent you need before your competitors. To make things easier during the season, you might even want to consider connecting with candidates through video interviews instead of in-person sit downs. This way neither party will need to take too much time away from the holiday grind, but you still get to speak with the candidate in a personal way.

  2. Seems like sound advice. However, the times when I’ve done huge recruiting pushes around the Holidays I tended to notice a backlash with great prospects.

    “You’re calling me on Christmas Eve?”

    I had multiple people be turned off by a culture which had recruiters working during Holiday time to perform outreach which painted the culture as one that was questionable. As in, who wants to work for a company where everyone works during the Holidays? For a fee agency recruiter this may not matter. If it’s your business, it’s work-play. The company is GREAT, but hey, you work for yourself out of your home office etc. I can see how that objection is overcome.

    Anyone else out there worried about that backlash? Or is it just drive on anyway. I know its about filling positions …. just something to consider. Good article.

  3. Did you know that there is at least one company that will very affordably handle these and other aspects of candidate care for you, so you can concentrate on higher value-add recruiting activities?


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