Recruiting is a speed game of how fast you can find quality candidates, screen them, and place them. In a candidate-driven market, any recruiter knows that top-quality candidates aren't willing to wait around for weeks on end just for an update email because chances are they are communicating with other companies and looking for the best option. So, in order to acquire the best talent, it's up to the recruiter to place candidates as quickly as possible.

That's all well and good on paper, but the reality is that it's not always easy to move at the speed of light, especially when a difficult hiring manager in the mix. Even still, there are strategies that can be used to speed up the screening process, which will in turn speed up the hiring process as a whole.

Race Car

This will be you, speeding to the finish line and placing candidates along the way.

Respond in a Timely Manner

This is an extremely basic but important practice for recruiters. When surveying recruiters, speed and efficiency were the top factors I noted when it came to winning (or losing) candidates. Experienced recruiters are highly organized, and keep track of everything. They try to touch base with each candidate multiple times throughout the hiring process, even daily for some niche positions.

This doesn't have to be done through phone calls either, a quick text, LinkedIn message, or email makes a huge difference in the overall candidate experience. To do this effectively, I suggest having a few pieces of interesting content available at all times that you can send to top candidates. Maybe a “Meeting the Hiring Manager” or "Top Interviewing Tips” article (I’ve just given you a head-start .. no excuse now!).

A quick check-in keeps passive candidates engaged, which is essential when you're dealing with a hiring manager that is taking their sweet time to provide feedback to you. Even still, a quick call to a candidate can make a huge difference.

One recruiter I spoke with said that they liked to call to check-in, but instead of saying the standard “Sorry, no decision has been made yet” they would actually ask the candidate a few more relevant questions. This allowed the recruiter to get more information on the candidate, provide more details on the job/company, and maintain communication.

These check-ins help you form a relationship with the candidate and, if executed correctly, keep them engaged and less likely to drop out of your process. Additionally, these calls are also often a sourcing opportunity. This leads into my next suggestion…

Slow Feedback Process

This is your candidate waiting for feedback.

Always Be Prospecting (ABP)

Recruiting is a lot like sales, and what does a top salesman do? They are [always prospecting] (http://salesunderdog.com/blog/always-be-prospecting). They call on their existing customers/prospects, and ask for referrals.  Applying this practice in recruitment with active and past candidates will help you build a strong pipeline. Everyone knows that the best candidates come from employee referrals, so, why not leverage that for yourself? If you work for a staffing agency, depending on the client, you may have open access to the Hiring Manager. If that’s the case, try to generate referrals from their existing employees. Existing employees (especially those in similar positions) usually have one or two friends/acquaintances that may be a good fit for a role you're trying to fill.

It’s important to stay creative during this process. Don’t just stop at asking for referrals from employees, try this tactic on candidates that you source through conventional methods like LinkedIn Recruiter, Indeed, or Monster. Mention to a candidate that you have an X position open, and are looking for a Y type of candidate and that you’d love to meet one of their friends about it. Can they recommend anyone to you? This is a great way to generate more high-impact (and FREE) referrals.

Work together for Sourcing

Sourcing is a team sport! Get as many people involved as possible.

Keep a Tight Feedback Loop

This the hardest to get right, because there are so many variables out of your control. Sometimes you have great clients that are very active in the process and work with you on all facets — but sometimes the opposite is true.

When you have a client that is more passive and less engaged than you'd like, it is important to keep an extremely tight feedback loop. The longer it takes your client to respond to you, the more likely it is that your candidate(s) will drop out of the pipeline. This means that you have to reengage the candidate, or start from scratch and get back to sourcing - neither option is exactly time saving.

The best way to avoid this problem is by setting up an environment from the start to avoid this from even happening. It is important to set an agenda and lay out your process (and really drive home what is at stake for the company and the position) so that your client knows what to expect. Remember, you’re the expert here, they are looking to you for guidance. From the very first contact with a client, the whole experience is ‘on the rails’, so, let them know exactly when you’ll be reaching out, when you’ll be asking for feedback, and what type of feedback they should give. Try using this script:

Typically when I send over a candidate, a client has got 3 types of response. Either love the candidate, hate them, or need a small tweak.

Now when you send over a candidate (or multiple), ask them which of these three categories they are in. This limits their choices, and makes it easier for you to get proper feedback.

I can’t stress how important setting the agenda is. It is one of the most basic lessons taught within sales, but for some reason, recruiters aren’t being given the same message. Most of the top recruiters I speak with intuitively do this anyways, but many junior recruiters either don't know about it or simply struggle to execute the strategy. Once you develop and refine your personal process after a few placements, be sure to incorporate this into your presentation with clients.

Keep Candidates Smiling

Feedback is your candidate’s oxygen. Keep them smiling!

Having an extremely tight screening process is crucial to being a top recruiter. Every recruiter has their own bags of tricks for achieving success, but these are common tricks everyone should be experimenting with! It is important to be relentless in your experimentation, and find what works for you. What do you do? Have you found a secret hack that you wish more people knew about? Let me know, I'm excited to learn more!