Candidate Relationship Management, Explained

A well–executed candidate relationship management (CRM) strategy is how you and your recruiting org can beat the competition for top talent and engage prospects with ease.

Building relationships with candidates used to be arduous. Talent teams with legacy ATS systems, in particular, historically struggle to ‘tap into’ their talent pools to fill open positions.

That’s because many older applicant tracking systems lack modern recruitment marketing features found in more advanced ATS solutions and complete talent acquisition suites.

The good news is many TA teams are making the switch to CRM software (the other kind) to better source candidates, manage their talent pipelines more seamlessly, hire the best active and passive talent, and — ultimately — build long-term candidate relationships.

talent relationship management explained

What is candidate relationship management?

Here’s the to-the-point candidate relationship management definition:

  • Candidate relationship management is the process of identifying qualified talent (proactively sourced prospects and applicants via LinkedIn, job boards, and one’s career site), engaging them for open roles, and maintaining a connection with them in the long run.

With a CRM approach — and the right candidate relationship management system — you can stay in touch and top of mind with those in your interview process and those you archive.

Your goal is to hire the best talent. But you must also ensure eventual hires and those you ‘save’ in your database to potentially nurture down the line have a great candidate experience.

Why? Because there will be times when you’ll struggle to source net-new candidates — meaning you’ll need to turn to your current talent pool to pinpoint possible prospects to interview (either for the first time or again, like ‘silver-medalist’ candidates).

In other words, a candidate relationship management approach can help you weather ‘down’ periods with your recruitment process, make your talent specialists’ jobs much simpler.

It can also bolster your employer brand. Satisfied candidates you consistently communicate and receive a top-tier CX will think highly of your company, even if they don’t end up joining.

recruitment strategies candidate relationship management

Candidate relationship management strategy advice

You can’t build a strong, future-proofed CRM strategy, of course, without a coordinated game plan that helps you engage candidates effectively and efficiently in their recruiting lifecycle.

Here are candidate relationship management best practices Lever users abide by when using our native ATS + CRM solution to conduct ongoing outreach with their talent pipelines.

Invest in a ‘recruitment CRM’ platform with critical capabilities.

Your colleagues in Sales and Marketing use customer relationship management software to improve how, when, and where they engage buyers and subscribers in the sales funnel.

So, why shouldn’t you have a similar solution to help you better engage and convert talent?

You don’t just need a database to track and store applicants and sourced prospects, though. You need full-fledged CRM software with functionality that helps you source, nurture, interview, and hire talent in a streamlined, standardized manner.

More specifically, you need an exhaustive talent acquisition suite that helps you:

  • Automate most (though not all) of your messaging to early-stage prospects
  • Notify you when candidates of interest engage with your communications
  • Move highly engaged prospects progressively though your recruiting stages
  • Interview, evaluate, and make decisions about talent quickly and efficiently
  • ‘Tag’ talent with clear labels in case you want to revisit them for future roles
  • Identify individuals you deem possible fits for said roles in a matter of seconds

The top talent acquisition suites certainly offer other worthwhile CRM capabilities.

But, this kind of beneficial functionality is what has been lacking from many talent orgs’ tech stacks in recent years — and prevented them from constructing successful candidate relationship management strategies.

ats buyer's guide

Communicate with prospects in a timely, personalized manner.

Communication comes into play at every stage of the relationship-building process.

Generic brand newsletters and/or one-off, out-of-the-blue emails simply don’t cut it today. Why? They come off as impersonal, annoying, or even overbearing. Contacting candidates directly with 1:1 messaging is how you build more human connections with them.

That’s where talent nurturing comes in play.

TA suites like LeverTRM offer pre-made templates to help recruiters build and test email programs that lead to consistently better conversion rates (both in terms of getting candidates into the interview stage and hiring top talent).

Lever customers customize template based on roles/positions and teams/departments. They also test the total number of touchpoints in nurtures, the schedules on which they send nurture emails, and the copy and creative used in said messaging to improve them over time.

Nurtures are important. The best CRM strategies recognize communication goes both ways.

Relay key hiring-process info to talent while also providing feedback channels. Your candidates may have questions, concerns, or comments about interviewing with you. Giving them the opportunity to give feedback will strengthen the bond they feel with your company.

advanced ats system

Keep talent engaged through the entire recruitment lifecycle.

Candidates know your company is considering multiple prospective hires at any given moment. They expect it will take time to get a final answer about whether they’ll be extended an offer.

Though this process may take time on your end, you still need to keep all candidates who participate in your interview process engaged. Fail to do so, and they may withdraw altogether.

Many candidates have no shortage of job opportunities today, due to The Great Resignation.

Thus, it’s vital to continually communicate with prospects and keep them updated on the status of your hiring process. When candidates feel lost in said process, they are likely to lose confidence in your company and pass on offers.

To maintain strong candidate relationships — especially with those you mean to employ — you need to have a plan in place that keeps individuals abreast of your hiring timeline and when to ultimately expect to hear back one way or the other regarding your decision.

Focus on active and passive candidate relationship management.

For roles that are hard to fill (e.g., ones that don’t lead to many applicants), one of your best chances of finding qualified potential fits is to focus on building and nurturing pool of passive candidates who are perfectly suited for these specialized positions.

There are more passive than active candidates out there for you to choose from. That said, a distinct candidate relationship management strategy is required for both types of talent.

Passive candidates are candidates that are not necessarily looking for a job right away. That means sources like online job boards may not be the right place to look for prospective hires.

Employee referrals are a great way to build a database of passive talent, as you already have a connection (albeit indirect) to these future candidates through your referring employee.

You can also develop a recruitment marketing program that advertises both specific roles and your brand at large to individuals in the fields and/or locations you need to hire via paid ads.

Download our eBook to learn how you can use nurtures to enhance your CRM strategy.

lever nurture

Further reading