Hiring Process Recruiting

Don’t Let Runner-Up Candidates Fall Through the Cracks


You work hard to source and place top quality talent for your best sales jobs. There are times, however, when the talent pool isn’t up to snuff with the demands of your clients. Unfortunately, this problem is more widespread than you think.

In fact, in the 2016 Jobvite Recruiter Nation Survey, 65 percent of the 1,600 recruiters and HR professionals surveyed said there’s a lack of skilled candidates in the market.

Instead of attempting to reinvent the wheel with each new search for talent, the too often overlooked solution is simply turning to second-choice candidates. These are the highly qualified candidates who you considered a great fit for the job opening, but were not placed in the position. Despite not making the final cut, they still have the necessary skills and experience to excel in medical sales roles and you shouldn’t let them get away.

Since HR typically doesn’t keep in touch with these candidates, it’s up to you to reach out and keep the lines of communication open.

Here’s how to keep second choice candidates interested for your medical sales clients’ future opportunities:

1) Don’t make empty promises

You can’t place every candidate. Be sure they understand that there’s no guarantee they’ll be placed in a future round and that you’re not working to place them, specifically, in a role right now. You are just keeping in touch because you see their potential and want to ensure when the right opportunity comes along, they can be informed.

Eager candidates can easily jump to conclusions, especially if they have been going through long-term unemployment. While you know the actual act of making the job offer is out of your hands, not many candidates understand the difference in the roles various talent acquisition professionals play.

It’s important not to string them along by making them believe you have a position where they’d be a perfect fit. This will break the bonds of trust and give you a bad recruiter reputation, which makes it difficult to source and place top candidates in the future.

Instead, inform the runner-up that you were impressed by their credentials and have contacted them again to confirm if they’re interested in any future opportunities with the company. This is a great way to keep them in your talent library even if they accept another offer before that time arrives.

2) Offer honest feedback

Honesty remains the best policy. Taking care not to hurt feelings or offend the candidate, you should give open and truthful feedback on how they could become a first choice candidate in the future. Inform them of skills and credentials they should earn as well as any strengths they should really be honing in on.

In some cases, the decision to pass on a candidate was solely due to the fact that only one could be placed in the position. This means that the candidate wasn’t necessarily rejected, but they weren’t the best choice for that role at that time.

There is a good chance they’d be considered for other more immediate roles, but you may need to uncover some hidden skills and talents and show them how they’d fit. Engaging candidates in this way shows genuine interest in their success and promotes mutual respect.

3) Keep connected

Keeping the lines of communication open after a rejection is essential to future contact. Allowing too much time to pass between calls or emails gives the impression that you’re only interested when you need to fill a job opening.

Instead, you should schedule regular time for ‘check in’ contact. During this time, it’s important to truly listen to the candidate and be prepared to answer their questions.

Outside of direct communication, make a point to monitor the candidate’s social media accounts and other online activity. Here, you can find relevant and personal reasons to reach out (new house, new baby, new credentials earned, etc.).

Keep this routine in place even if the former candidate finds a new job. There’s no telling what might happen and if they’ll be in the market for a new position in the future, especially if they are particularly passionate about working with a specific company.

Keeping second choice candidates interested is not a simple endeavor, but can pay off in the long run. You’ll save time sourcing talent and you’ll be building connections with candidates who are receptive to pitches for future placement in medical sales jobs.

What are you doing to keep second choice candidates interested? Let us know in the comments!