Are relationships important in recruitment? An agency’s view.

Should recruiters try to build and maintain good relationships with candidates and what are the advantages of doing so? Read the answer here.

Developing relationships with candidates has become an integral part of a recruitment agency’s business. Putting forward the best candidates for a job is not just a matter of measuring which of the applicants best fits a company’s specifications and requirements. It is also a case of getting to know them and understanding whether they are a good cultural fit for the client and share their vision and values.

Herb Kelleher, the legendary co-founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines, once said: “The business of people is people”. It may sound obvious, but in a shrinking labour market, the competition for talent is increasingly fierce. Against this backdrop, recruiters that cultivate relationships will have a stronger pool of candidates to draw on and will know exactly which ones are right for their clients.

And good relationships are built on trust. Just as agencies such as Anne Corder Recruitment are trusted by employers to find them the right staff, candidates also trust us to identify positions that match their skills and interests.

With this in mind, it’s important that agencies develop relationships with job seekers who later land their dream positions, as well as those who were unsuccessful in landing a job they applied for. Candidates from a company’s previous recruitment round may be suited to another vacancy with the same organisation at a later date; they’ve already expressed an interest in working for them, and if they made it to the interview stage, the company will already have a good picture of their skills and attributes.

And of course, the unsuccessful candidate may be a perfect fit for another company, so it’s never a good idea to dismiss them simply because they didn’t secure the job advertised.

One way to build positive relationships with good candidates who were unsuccessful in landing a job is through personalised feedback. A generic rejection letter, or no response at all, can leave them feeling disillusioned and discouraged from applying again for a job through the same agency or with the same company. Actively reaching out to the ‘best of the rest’ and staying in touch with them saves time and expense the next time a role comes up that they have the skills and experience for.

Keeping in touch can be as simple as sending a personal email after an interview or a catch-up message on a social media platform such as LinkedIn. Some agencies may also schedule catch-up meetings or video calls to discuss candidates’ prospects. What do they expect to achieve at this stage of their career? Are they looking for quick promotion or personal development? What issues might prompt them to leave a job? If you’re in tune with your candidates’ career aspirations you’re more likely to identify the most suitable ones for future roles.

But high quality agencies will already have done much of this research prior to putting a candidate forward for a role to ensure that they are a perfect fit for their client. But many agencies won’t have, preferring to focus on filling vacancies fast rather than ensuring the company and the candidate are the right match.

It’s also important to remember that businesses are increasingly looking to develop a talent pipeline of job seekers who are ready to step into roles quickly. And a recruitment agency that develops good relationships with candidates will know who is available as soon as the company is ready to hire again and will be the first in line to contact them.

Successful agencies may use Application Tracking Systems (ATS) and Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) platforms to help them with this.

An efficient Applicant Tracking System is an essential tool for following candidates through every stage of the recruitment process: application, interview, shortlisting, selection, and feedback. But an ATS only lets you keep track of applicants for a current vacancy.

A Candidate Relationship Management platform gives you the chance to widen the field of eligible candidates, including those who haven’t applied. These candidates may be working elsewhere but open to an appealing offer or they may recently have applied for a different position and feel it’s too soon to try again.

A CRM also allows an agency to record more information about candidates than they volunteer in their applications – perhaps because a particular skill wasn’t directly requested. This is important because in a very competitive employment market, some agencies may otherwise struggle to find suitably qualified applicants, particularly for senior or specialist positions. Again, the deeper and wider your talent pool, and the better the relationship with job seekers, the more chance an agency has of identifying the best candidates.

For employers, it’s a good idea to create a profile of the kind of skills, values, and behaviours you’re looking for. This shouldn’t just cover candidates’ qualifications and experiences, but also their personalities and the attributes that will mean they fit into the workplace culture. Are they self-starters or team players, do they prefer short deadlines or long trajectories, do they work better in smaller or larger teams?

And for both employers and recruitment agencies, diversity is another area where good relationships are important. More than half of all job seekers told recruitment agency Hays they pay attention to an organisation’s diversity and inclusion policy when researching a potential new employer, and that rises to 65% among young professionals. A good CRM set-up enables recruiters to attract a more diverse field by encouraging more minority candidates to apply, as well as picking up unconscious biases in the recruitment process.

Hays also found that three-quarters of job seekers wanted recruiters to use unbiased language to describe vacancies and culture, but only half said their organisation did this. Eliminating language bias can make organisations more attractive to a wider range of talented candidates.

Above all, candidates value honesty and consistent communication from recruitment agencies. Australian recruitment software provider idibu asked 250 candidates from 100 agencies to say what stood out about a good relationship: 31% said honesty. Giving honest feedback, tracking candidates to make sure they are kept updated on the recruitment process, and treating all candidates fairly and equally builds trust in an agency and enables them to develop a strong talent pool for their client’s future vacancies.


Alex Smith

Recruitment Specialist

I’ve worked in recruitment for the same agency for over 12 years, covering finance, office support, construction, and engineering. Temp and perm. Previously, my line of work was within banking and estate agency.
Favourite food: “Curry (Hot)”
Favourite film: “Heat”

Outside of work

“Gym 5 days a week. Home life consists mostly of entertaining a 3 year old! (for clarification – my son)”

Alex on ACR

“Very refreshing to work for a recruitment agency that genuinely care for their candidates and clients”

T: 01733 235298

Sarah-Jane Bond

Recruitment Specialist

I have spent the majority of my career working in Operational and Project Management roles. I first worked with ACR about 25 years ago as a candidate. ACR secured me a role at RNIB, where I stayed for 15 years, finishing as Head of Operations. Recruitment has always been a big part of the roles I have undertaken and is something that I really enjoy. When you match a fantastic candidate with the right client there is no better feeling!
Favourite food: “Has to be any dish from the Mediterranean”
Favourite film: “There are many, love a chick flick, especially ‘The Holiday at Christmas”

Outside of work

“I love socialising with friends, can always squeeze a bit of retail therapy in around volunteering at Deeping Rangers FC, running their hospitality on match days.”

Sarah-Jane on ACR

“I couldn’t have been more delighted when Nel asked me to join the company and have felt at home since day one. They really do care about providing the best service for their clients and candidates, building genuine relationships with both. The team culture is second to none, everyone supporting and looking out for each other. It is a pleasure to come to work every day.”

T: 01733 235298

Emily Roach

Recruitment Specialist

Emily was a Primary School Teacher for 10 years, before moving into the EdTech space, as a Relationship Specialist for MATs. She joined ACR in July 2023 and particularly thrives when recruiting for Account Management, Customer Service and Sales roles.
Favourite food:
“Spag bol or pizza”
Favourite film:
“The Notebook – or any romantic chick flick really!”
Outside of work
“I have a 1-year-old, so love fun family weekends with my fiancé and son more than anything. Time socialising with friends and family is where I’m happiest.”
Emily on ACR
“The unique culture, values, and style at ACR is polar opposite to other recruitment agencies and what I believed recruitment was. Having previously been a Relationship Specialist, I feel I’m doing the same thing! No hard sell, we truly care about our candidates and clients, and the team culture is 2nd to none!”
T: 01733 235298

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