What Is Candidate Management? Definition, Relationship Management, and Best Practices


Candidate management is a recruitment strategy aimed at building and sustaining relationships with job seekers to improve recruiting outcomes and enhance the employer brand. Here’s a look at all that you need to know about candidate management.

In the era of instant food deliveries and one-click shopping, a long-drawn-out recruitment process is the fastest way to lose talent. How can organizations today ensure that candidates are motivated and engaged enough to stay on through the often long-drawn recruitment process? We look at key concepts, examples, and best practices of candidate management and candidate relationship managementOpens a new window .

Table of Contents

What Is Candidate Management?

Candidate management is defined as the process of building and managing relationships with active and passive job seekers to guide them through the recruiting funnel. A well-designed candidate management strategy will focus on enhancing and improving the overall candidate experienceOpens a new window , which will, in turn, bolster the organization’s employer brand.

Candidates today expect the same level of speed and sophistication during their job search as they experience in their own consumer lives. In order to attract and hire top candidates, organizations must rethink the traditional approach to talent acquisition and take into account evolving candidate expectations and recruiting KPIs.

Fortunately, the business world already has such a model in place that has been fine-tuned over the past two decades to engage and nurture prospects in a digital environment – customer relationship management (CRM) or candidate relationship management in the HR context.

Candidate Management: How Does it Help Talent Acquisition?

The strategies used to manage candidates affect the whole talent acquisitionOpens a new window process. Here are a few ways in which effective candidate management could help talent acquisition.

Feedback and communication: At a time when jobs outnumber candidates, organizations need to up their talent acquisition game, and candidate management is a good place to start. Think about a time when you were ghosted by a recruiter or a company. Would you ever want to work or engage with them again? Communication breakdowns during the recruiting process are detrimental to the candidate experience. Remember, happy candidates will tell their family and friends about their experience, and the unhappy candidates will tell everyone. With employer review platforms like Glassdoor, your candidates are just a click away from hearing/reading about the way your organization treats its candidates.

Building relationships beyond the process: Candidate management can be the difference between a great place to work and a bad workplace. A candidate management strategy allows recruiters and talent acquisition professionals to evaluate and connect with candidates who would have otherwise fallen through the cracks. Candidate management transforms recruitment into a relationship-first strategy rather than a one-off execution-style process.

Automation autonomy: To be honest, it is practically impossible for recruiters to constantly message and email every candidate about their progress across every step of the recruitment process. Which is why it is essential that candidate management be automated. Sales and marketing professionals have been doing it for years with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. And thankfully, recruiters have a similar technology solution at their disposal – candidate relationship management software. So, let’s look at what it does and how you can deploy it within your recruiting function to improve the candidate experience you deliver.

Learn More: Top 3 Innovative Corporate Recruitment Strategies for 2019Opens a new window

What Is Candidate Relationship Management?

Candidate relationship management (CRM) is a combination of processes, systems, and tools that help recruiters design and control the candidate experience. CRM enables employers to build a dependable talent pipelineOpens a new window by continuously engaging and nurturing candidates to guide them down the recruiting funnel (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: How a CRM automates engagement across the recruiting funnel

CRM software automates essential tasks and practices that help recruiters and employers build lasting candidate relationships (even with rejected candidates). This essentially positions the organization as a good employer to candidates while keeping up with their current job status and ensuring they re-apply to any new open position. What’s more, most CRM solutions also offer workflow streamlining capabilities and features, which make CRMs a must-have for forward-looking HR teams.

Let’s look at the five ways candidate relationship management systems improve the recruiting process:

1. Candidate data management: Candidate data is at the heart of any CRM. After all, you can only develop relationships with people you know. A CRM captures candidate data from multiple sources like social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and interactions with the employer through the career page, job boards, emails, and paid advertisements. The CRM then structures these bits of data to make every interaction with the candidate more effective.   

2. Segmentation: Candidate segmentation is yet another key feature of the CRM. Based on the data available on each candidate, the CRM segments them by using different tag logics (like job requisition, titles, or specializations). Candidate segmentation helps recruiters address individual candidates as a part of a larger audience and personalize their messaging accordingly.

3. Campaign management: Once candidates are segmented into various talent pools or communities, the CRM allows recruiters to design and execute personalized communication campaigns to guide them down the recruiting funnel. Recruiters can then use the campaign management capabilities within the CRM to update the status of each lead (candidate) and rank them on the basis of engagement.

4. Scheduling: The CRM also automates the scheduling of emails, text messages, and phone calls to inform the candidate of their progress at each step of the recruiting funnel. Many CRMs also offer interview scheduling features to help recruiters maintain a calendar of active candidates willing to interview for a role.

5. Feedback management: Feedback is one of the most crucial parts of the recruitment process. Timely feedback helps all stakeholders – hiring managers, recruiters, and candidates – make more informed decisions. An effective CRM will have a feedback management module that documents feedback from the candidate, the recruiter, interviewer, and the hiring manager. Feedback data can become an invaluable source of insight for employers looking to build an engaged talent community.

Learn More: What is Full Cycle Recruiting? Definition, Process and Best PracticesOpens a new window

Top 3 Candidate Relationship Management Best Practices

While a CRM may enable you to streamline communication and candidate management, it is not a magic bullet for your candidate experience. Talent acquisition functions and leaders must embrace a candidate-first mindset that focuses on:

1. Communication: There is little doubt that communication is a key driver of great candidate experience. The more information you provide to your candidates about their job role and the organization, the more likely they are to engage with you. Candidates also appreciate regular communication, and if they do not hear from you for extended periods of time, they will assume the response is negative and move on to other opportunities.

2. Regular feedback: Take the employee-first approach a step further by encouraging regular feedback from candidates. Candidate feedback is a great way to identify gaps in your current candidate relationship process. For instance, if you aren’t able to keep job seekers on your career website for long, you can use their feedback to understand where exactly they are dropping off from. Is it because your careers page isn’t mobile responsive, or did candidates have to upload their resume multiple times because the website didn’t specify a file size? With regular candidate feedback, you can iterate and improve your candidate relationship managementOpens a new window process.

3. Look beyond the gold medalists: While it is thrilling to be able to hire a candidate that checks all your boxes, it is equally important for you to keep others who did not make it through the recruitment funnel engaged. Doing this will help you create a talent pipeline full of candidates that appreciate what your organization stands for. For instance, if you’re hiring for a business analyst and you have a few candidates who do not have the requisite experience, you could always consider them for an entry-level or junior analyst’s position when that role opens up. In the meantime, you could send them targeted messaging about alternate jobs available at your organization. This will help you to not just reduce the time-to-fill, but also to create a lasting impression on your talent community.

Learn More: Top 10 Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) Software for 2020Opens a new window

Key Takeaways

A candidate relationship management software is a must-have for organizations looking to hire great talent efficiently. A proactive approach to talent acquisition can help you stay ahead of the competition and improve the quality of hires. As the war to bag top talent intensifies, talent acquisition leaders must act as networkers to differentiate their employer brand by delivering a personal touch throughout the candidate lifecycle. CRM makes that possible.

Are you using a recruiting CRM to engage candidates? What best practices would you recommend to your colleagues? Let us know on TwitterOpens a new window , LinkedInOpens a new window , and FacebookOpens a new window . We’re always listening!