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Recruiters and Candidates: The Lost Art of Relationship Management

Cheryl Evans

  • 03 Oct


Recruiters need to possess and dedicate their craft to the soft skills that can master their candidate relationships.

As much as we loathe looking to the past, we do sometimes long for how things used to be done. Sometimes, you have to take a leaf out of last year’s book and embrace the old ways.

We’ve begun to take some of the old business principles for granted. Among others, the recruitment industry has been particularly neglectful of these principles. This neglect doesn’t help the perception of numerous recruiters across the UK, some of which have grown synonymous with ‘rude’, ‘annoying’, or worse ‘unprofessional’.

It’s time we reminded ourselves of the old, essential mantras that no agency can do without. Let us look back at an age where candidate relationships were honed, nurtured, and looked after.

Here, then, are the essentials every recruitment consultant cannot go without.


Transparency is the foundation upon which all successful candidate-consultant relationships are born. Both parties need to be transparent about what they want as an end-result.

For example, a candidate needs to be transparent with what they’re looking for in their next role, the things they do in their current role and their (realistic) hopes for advancement. We emphasise realism here, because not all hopes are achievable.

Here, the onus is on the consultant to be likewise transparent with the candidate. If the candidate’s skillset is ill-fitted to a role they want (or perhaps they do not have enough experience) then the consultant has to be honest.

Ghosting (defined as some party cutting off all communication in the recruitment process) is something many recruitment agencies have been guilty of. Don’t let this be you! Honesty is much more appreciated, rather than leaving the candidate in the dark.


Without clear and coherent communication, many of the other sections here will be of no good. As with any business relationship, good communication is a must-have.

Consider the avenues of communication your consultants can go down, and look to catering for the candidate. If you know the candidate prefers speaking on the phone than emailing, then a good consultant will make that happen.

Maybe, as a consideration, your consultants could ask the candidates how they want the process to take shape. It will endear you to the candidate, and from there a healthy, straightforward recruitment process can take place.


Another vital ingredient of this relationship management process is trust. Think about it: the recruiter has a direct hand in the candidate’s future, declaring to the world that they’re qualified to do so.

This is no light claim!

For such reasons, the candidate has to wholeheartedly trust the recruiter to handle the process. Both parties are investing time in the other, and that is the most valuable commodity to the job-seeker.


A good candidate-consultant relationship is predicated on the notion that both parties are open with each other. This goes for general business relationships as well as those in recruitment.

In the search process, the candidate has to demonstrate openness to criticism in order to improve their interviewing skills. It’s all part of the process.

On the other hand, the consultant has to accept when a certain role just isn’t right for the candidate. It creates a simple square peg/round hole conundrum. It’s no good forcing the wrong opportunity as it may tarnish the relationship altogether.


It’s incredibly beneficial, and healthy, for a consultant to build rapport with their candidate. It injects a bit of fun into the process, and it may be needed given that the candidate is looking for a new start!

It also helps the relationship grow from something purely formal, or transactional into a fully-fledged candidate relationship. Achieving this particular section usually has a knock-on effect with the other sections of this blog.

If you build rapport, everything else will follow (and much quicker!).


Remember: as recruitment agencies, you are the ones with all the knowledge. You have insight into a number of industries (or, a particular one if you’re specialist) and know the kinds of skills many businesses will be looking for.

That said, a fair amount of knowledge comes from the candidate, too. They know what they’re good at, the skills they have acquired, and the way in which they go about their work.

This kind of candidate intuition is invaluable to the recruiter, as it informs the kind of roles that would suit the candidate. The industry, too - some are better suited to some industries than others.


Last of all, we address arguably the most important resource: time.

Time can mean managing deadlines with your candidate, making the job search more efficient, or spending time more wisely.

As mentioned earlier, time is worth its weight in gold for someone looking for a new role. Candidates and consultants both need to give each other the time to realise a successful recruitment procedure.

In business transactions, the importance of time cannot be underestimated. For a recruiter, it’s vital. Time can be harnessed to a recruiter’s best potential to fully hone in on the best roles for candidates.

Tailoring Your Approach

One additional thing to clear up. As we mentioned earlier in our communication section, consultants need to be tailoring their approach in accord with the type of candidate they’re dealing with.

This means altering your approach to suit the candidate in question. If they have particular requirements as to when they can be contacted, for example - then take that into consideration.

It involves getting to know the candidate, and having a clear understanding of who they are as people, not just candidates.

Of course, this swings the other way. It’s a mutual understanding between two individuals.


In the business world generally, it has been found that skilled communication is at an all-time low and companies are proving harder to reach. Recruitment relies on stellar communication skills and good inter-personal capabilities.

That’s why it needs to ensure that the quality of candidate relationships are never taken for granted. It is the bread and butter of the business world!

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