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August 9, 2018

What Every Job Candidate Wishes You Knew (BS-Free Recruitment Advice from 8 Candid Career Coaches)

recruitment advice

Top talent is more discerning than ever before. Here’s the inside scoop on how to outperform your recruiting competition and win your best candidates.

Today’s candidates know they have options.

They’ve read all about resume keywords, sized up your ‘About’ page and have been approached by plenty a rockstar recruiter. The challenge is to blow them away with a recruitment process that puts you far above the competition (and with 86% of your top candidates already employed, you NEED to knock their socks off.)

But with roles to fill and no time to spare, how can you provide a candidate experience to end all others? We flipped the script and asked 8 expert career coaches for their best advice for how to wow job hunters from the perspective of (drumroll please) — the candidate.

Here’s what they had to say.

Don’t view candidates as “one-hit wonders”

“View the relationship as a long-term one, not a one-hit wonder. This means, even if that candidate will not be moving forward in the interview process, you close the loop with them and end on a strong, positive note. You never know when that same person will be an exceptional match for a future position.”

— Jenny Foss, Long-time Recruiter, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and the voice behind the popular career blog

Recruitment is often compared to sales — and for good reason.

Both are merit-based. Both are fast-moving. Both are utterly dependent on your ability to nurture and maintain quality relationships. In fact, in 2017, 50% of small businesses said hiring was a major challenge — yet how many of us actually take the time to develop candidate leads as a long-term assets to the business?

We get it, you’re strapped for time. But with today’s tech, there’s no reason you can’t set up an automated candidate nurture campaign to keep those leads engaged. Just like in sales, most of the time all “no” really means is “not right now”.

Take a morning or afternoon to sit down and set up your nurture sequence — then watch that time come back to you tenfold when the next position opens up.

(Psst! Need a little help with that? Check out Breezy’s easy peasy Nurture Campaigns.)

Keep it human

“Just as a great employee experience is rooted in care about the human first before the resource, the candidate experience should focus on coaching the candidate to get clear on life mission, values, the theme of how they enjoy helping others, as well as identify negative scripts and their ‘founding stories.’

This practice helps establish trust with each candidate, plus most importantly for business, to help better match talent with open searches, and in turn, to build trust with client companies who’ll get more motivated and focused candidates who already know and love the company before they get in the door. This way, recruiters can pro-actively (rather than reactively, when things go south) begin creating a virtuous cycle of trust, employee fit and retention. And it doesn’t take more than a little extra time and the right framework to create that engagement from the start.”

yuri kruman

— Yuri Kruman, Corporate Employee Experience (EX) Consultant and CEO of

You’re not surprised to see this one, right?

In 2018, we all know that HR needs to be a lot more human. So why is it that so many job seekers still feel dehumanized by the hiring process?

Yuri Kruman is a master EX consultant, Forbes and Entrepreneur contributor, PR strategist and CEO of According to Yuri, “Aside from the obvious elements like responsiveness and detailed research on the candidate, it’s always rare for recruiters to actually take the time to get to know each candidate as a human.”

When faced with the pressure of filling a vacancy (like yesterday!), it can be all too easy to skip the crucial step of actually getting to know the person behind the application.

Expert talent advisors like Yuri warn against cutting corners. Treating candidates like numbers instead of people not only diminishes their level of engagement, it could also turn them off from working with you completely. That’s especially true for millennials who are known for preferring “purpose over paycheck” and have zero time for shaky values.

Think of the long game

“Forget the whole ‘human’ aspect. Even if you want to look at it in a ‘sales/business’ aspect, focus on more than the current job opening in front of you. Talk to the candidates that reach out to you that aren’t a fit. Because they will be a fit for the next one. Or will know someone. top looking at everything from the perspective of 1 week, 1 month out….look at the long game.”

— Adam Karpiak, Public Accounting Recruiter & Candidate Therapist

Adam Karpiak puts it another way.

adam karpiak

If you’re one of the high-octane recruiters who can’t get down with HR’s softer side, at least you can agree that treating the candidate like a long-term asset makes great business sense.

Every salesperson is only as good as their pipeline and writing off a candidate is just plain bad for business. Keep your talent pool updated and nurtured and both you and your candidates will have way more wins along the way.

(Btw, if you’ve ever wondered what type of TV-dad recruiter you are, Adam’s post on the subject is a must-read.)

Slow down

“My advice to recruiters is that since you are often the first point of contact in or for an organization, and creating the first impression about the company’s brand, slow down and make a connection. Even if you are insanely busy, make the conversation feel like you have all the time in the world.”

— Lisa Gates, Leadership Coach, Negotiation Consultant and Founder of

Lisa Gates is on a mission to, “Help Women Become Bolder, Braver, and Better Paid” (we couldn’t possibly love it more). 😍

Lisa reminds us of a point we’re often quick to forget: When it comes to the candidate experience, first impressions matter.

lisa gates

She’s heard a ton of stories from clients. And all of them sound something like this, “I kinda got the bum’s rush. The recruiter seemed to be most interested in ticking through their set questions. I didn’t feel like we made a connection, or that he/she was really listening.”

That’s just…icky.

Today’s talent is aware, discerning and completely fed upwith this kind of tick-box treatment.

Use an ATS or recruitment management tool that takes the time-sucking admin out of the equation so you can step back, take a breath and focus on the candidate in front of you.

Be consistent

“My best advice for recruiters who want to provide a good candidate experience is to think about how their actions are perceived. Every interaction with candidates sends a message and defines their personal brand as a recruiting professional. Consistency is key! When you choose to miss scheduled calls, fail to follow up, etc. you send a message of what you are like to work with. And, given you represent the company, you also send a message about the type of person they hire. Top talent won’t waste time working with sub-par recruiters who don’t present themselves properly in their actions.”

— JT O’Donnell, Founder and CEO, Work It Daily

If you’re on LinkedIn, you probably know JT.

jt o'donnell

Her no-holds-barred job-hunting advice is the stuff star candidates are made of. And if you’re willing to take her advice, it can make you just as awesome at recruiting.

Look, we know that time management is an ongoing issue for recruiters — it’s an issue for all of us. But JT’s just saying what all your candidates are thinking — if your actions are frenzied, lazy or careless, so is your working culture.

There are a ton of affordable tech tools that can take the burden of a fast, personalized reply off your shoulders, without dehumanizing the candidate. In fact, if you can get out from under your inbox, you’ll be amazed at how much extra time you can spend really getting to know your applicants.

Give feedback

“When I ask clients what the one thing they wish they could change about the hiring process is, they inevitably say that not hearing back from hiring managers is at the top of their list.

Candidates want to improve their interview (and other) skills, but not hearing any feedback is a real detriment to getting better. Even a short email response will go a long way to making clients feel valued and will give your organization a positive reputation.”

— Neely Raffellini, Founder, 9 to 5 Project

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again.

neely raffelini

You MUST follow up with candidates. And while you’re at it, why not give them some valuable feedback that can help them in their job hunt?

Neely Raffellini is the Founder of the 9 to 5 Project and an absolute pro at helping women land their dream jobs. She recommends taking the follow up process a step further by offering value to the candidate in the form of feedback they can apply to the job hunting process.

Was there a part of the candidate’s background that was absolutely fascinating, but not a fit this time? Why not tell them that? Give them a clearer picture of what worked (or didn’t) about the interview so they can step it up in the next one.

Be brave (and compassionate!) by giving the candidate deeper insight into what’s happening on the other side of the table (or video as the case may be) and they’ll repay you by becoming a fiercely loyal fan of your employer brand.

Get real about interviews

“I think it’s important to keep in mind a candidate’s expertise lies in performing duties within a particular industry or field. They are not by any means professional interviewers. Keep that in mind while preparing questions prior to the interview, while conducting the interview, and while evaluating the interview afterwards.”

— Christopher Taylor, Former Recruiter and Current Job Hunt Strategist

Before switching side, Christopher put in plenty of time as a recruiter. These days, you can find the self-described “occupation optimist” helping candidates all over the world land their dream jobs.

christopher taylor

He reminds that a great interview doesn’t always a mean a great employee. Before you walk into your next interview, take a minute to think about what’s really important — a firm handshake or the ability to get stuff done?

Having seen the process from both sides, Christopher recommends interview coaching not only for job hunters but for everyone. 💯

According to Christopher, “Interview coaching enhances the candidate experience, while increasing the likelihood of receiving an offer. Everyone wins — — the candidate, the recruiter, and the hiring manager! Giving the candidate insight into the company, the hiring manager, and the interview process is a game changer!”

Respond quickly

“Candidates appreciate rapid response times. Call them back at the time you said you’d call, the same goes for email. Offering quick updates is not only considerate, it shows good communication and keeps them engaged. When candidates choose to apply for a job, they are spending time researching, preparing their resume, applying, interviewing and traveling. Treat candidates like customers and e.g. if you’re asking them to come in for the third interview, they should feel appreciated for taking the time.”

— Margaret Buj, Interview Coach & Talent Acquisition Manager (currently at Photobox Group)

We 💜the idea of treating candidates like customers.

After all, your talent is your greatest asset. But as international career-coaching wonder woman, Margaret Buj points out, too many recruiters still miss the mark. Having been through the process of searching for a new contract recently herself, Margaret’s noticed that many recruiters could definitely improve the candidate experience.

All it takes is a little responsiveness.

margaret buj

If you wouldn’t be late for a phone call with your top sales prospect, you better not be late for a phone call with your top applicants. If you’re not already using an autoresponder to help manage your inbox, get on that, stat. You may also need to time block a couple of 30-minute or 1-hour increments of your day exclusively for emailing. Once or twice a day is often enough, if you use that time wisely.

Think of it not as replying to “yet another email” but as a simple way of saying “thanks” to your candidates.

At Breezy, we can’t make you a rockstar recruiter overnight. But we can help take the soullessness out of the hiring process so you can become the hiring hero you always wanted to be, if only you had the time.