New Year’s Resolutions for Recruiters: 5 Good Habits to Start (or Continue) in 2019

Happy New Year! We’ve finally reached 2019, and we anticipate some significant changes to Talent Acquisition, technology and the world of work. It’s going to be a wild ride. But the beginning of the year is not just a time for speculating and anticipating; it’s also a time for action. That’s why we’ve reviewed advice from candidates and industry-leading talent acquisition professionals and curated this list of five good habits. Keep reading to learn how to take a candidate-centric approach to talent acquisition in 2019.

1. Communicate clearly & frequently

We all know that keeping candidates in the loop on the status of their application and next steps are table stakes, but let’s make 2019 the year where we go above and beyond. Danielle Tierney, a Recruiter at Flatiron Health, recommends updating candidates on any unanticipated changes that will lengthen the total hiring process: “While many factors can often be out of your control, sending updates to candidates and setting clear expectations along the way makes all the difference.” And communication is a two-way street: the Recruiting team at Flatiron Health provides an emergency email alias so candidates can write in with any setbacks that might affect their interview schedule.

Even candidates who are no longer in the running still want you to communicate with them candidly. According to research from LinkedIn, 94% of candidates want to receive interview feedback, but only 41% have actually received it. This is why some Talent Acquisition teams—like the one at Yotpo—make a habit of offering to do follow-up calls with candidates who didn’t receive offers after their onsite interviews. During these completely optional conversations, candidates get a chance to hear constructive feedback on their performance, which helps them prepare for future interviews and applications.

2. Personalize your outreach

If one of your goals in 2019 is to improve your response rate to outbound communication with candidates, it’s the perfect time to get in the good habit of personalizing your outreach. Messaging that’s obviously cookie-cutter copy and pasting is one bad habit that can definitely get on candidates’ nerves. “It’s frustrating as someone who is job hunting,” Ashley, a financial analyst based in New York City vented. “It’s a huge waste of everyone’s time when the messaging isn’t tailored correctly and the role is totally irrelevant to my expertise and interests.

Greenhouse Recruiting Manager Ariana Moon puts it this way: “To me, personalization is the most important aspect of a sourcing email. I want it to be immediately obvious to the prospect that this email is intended for them and them only. Who wants to feel they’re 1 out of 100 people getting blasted the same message?” Ariana recommends mentioning a prospect’s current/past roles, companies they’ve worked for, or maybe even professional content they’ve published on social media. Another tactic is to highlight anything you might have in common with the prospect—maybe you went to the same college, or perhaps you both enjoy the same hobby. Ashley, the financial analyst, recommends the following: “Look into my profile—even if it’s just making a high-level connection between my profile and your mandate, I’m appreciative of the thoughtfulness and am more likely to respond.

3. Keep your careers page current

Does your careers page accurately reflect your company, your mission and your employees? If the answer is no (or even worse, you don’t know), promise us that 2019 will be the year you remedy that. It may seem like a minor detail, but for many candidates, your careers page will be the first—and only—impression they have of your employer brand. During the Candidate Panel discussion at OPEN Roadshow, one candidate put it this way: “Everything matters, even the careers page. If it looks like it hasn’t been updated in 5 years, I won’t apply.

Know that your careers page could use some polishing but need a little inspiration? We’ve been curating a collection of our favorite careers pages over the years. Check them out here.

4. Be thoughtful about the interview experience

Creating a thoughtful interview experience starts with considering your interviewers’ needs—do they know how to conduct the interview and sell the role? On the OPEN Candidate Panel, one candidate put it bluntly, “If an interviewer doesn’t know how to answer my questions, it makes me question the company’s validity.” One way to avoid interviewer missteps is to debrief your interview panel on recent Glassdoor reviews. Carolyn Trotman, People Operations Manager at Gimlet Media, recommends this approach so interviewers know how candidates have been perceiving the experience lately. When it comes to scheduling, interview overload is a real concern. Danielle Tierney from Flatiron Health recommends keeping an eye on interviewer load to help prevent interview burnout and fatigue.

On the candidate side, there are a number of small details that can make a big difference. Be sure candidates have something to eat and drink (especially if you’re doing one of those marathon onsites that lasts more than a few hours), and try to schedule some downtime and breaks during the day as well. Let someone take the candidate out for coffee or lunch to break up back-to-back interviews. Unless there are extenuating circumstances that cause a last-minute schedule change, let candidates know who they’ll be meeting with ahead of time. One of the panelists on the Candidate Panel explained, “I always want to be as prepared as possible so I’ll check out the interviewers’ profiles online to learn a bit about them. It throws me off when someone other than who I was expecting shows up to my in-person interview.

5. Remember goodbye doesn’t have to be for good

The workforce is much more fluid than it used to be—a candidate who isn’t the right fit today might be tomorrow, or someone who’s not open to moving now might feel differently next month. This is why relationship-building is a good habit that every recruiter should have in 2019. You never know when circumstances will change. Candidates definitely appreciate it when you put in a little extra effort to engage with them. Ashley, a financial analyst in New York, shares the following anecdote about a recruiter who took the long view: “He took the time to talk to me, understand what I was looking for—he made me feel like I wasn’t just another number, which is why we’ve kept in touch and why I’ve referred a few of my friends to him, even though a role never worked out.

Using a Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) tool can facilitate this type of ongoing engagement by allowing you to make note of promising candidates and the communication you’ve had with them in the past so it’s easy to pick up right where you left off.

This is by no means an exhaustive list—there are countless ways to put candidates first and give them an amazing experience. But we hope the ideas we’ve shared here left you feeling excited and motivated to adopt some good recruiting habits this year.

Which habits will you be focusing on in 2019? Leave us a note in the comments to let us know!


Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Filed Under:


Recruiter Tips