In the hyper-competitive world of recruiting and staffing no aspect is quite so cut-throat as ‘time to submit’ or ‘job order response time’. This measure refers to the time it takes for a recruiting firm to submit candidates to a hiring company to fill a newly opened job. Predictably, the quicker the better.

With Vendor Management Systems (VMS) automating much of the submission process, hiring companies now have higher expectations of their recruiting firms than ever. Most companies expect that recruiters will submit appropriate candidates within 48 hours of the job being posted, a timeframe that would’ve been unimaginable just a decade or two ago. But not only do these companies put a cap of 2 days on their candidate submissions, they also often structure their review process to prioritize the submissions that are made the quickest.

It’s simple: the earlier you submit your candidates, the more likely you are to get the hire. But how on earth do you go about cutting down a timeframe that is already so narrow?

The Recruiter/Candidate Relationship

The key to decreasing your ‘time to submit’ lies in the relationship that you form with your candidates. A well-informed, motivated and alert candidate will allow you to make huge inroads into your time to submit by being far more receptive to your advances, and perhaps even doing some of the submission legwork themselves.

The fact is that the best possible candidate in your database could well be the best possible candidate in a wealth of other firms’ databases. A systematic approach to candidate engagement that ensures your candidates feel wanted, represented and informed will ultimately cultivate the sort of communication that will allow you to submit their resume to clients in the metaphorical blink of an eye, beating out your competitors who are vying for the attention of the same individual.

In order to foster good relationships with your clients, you first need to foster good relationships with your candidates. But how?

The Secrets to Solid Candidate Relationships

This healthy recruiter/candidate relationship is built on doing the fundamentals well. It’s about developing a level of trust with the very best candidates which encourages them to not just accept your calls and emails, but to actively converse with you about potential job opportunities. Here are a few such fundamentals that will be the focus of every recruiting firm worth their salt.

Always talk to the individual. Bulk emails are incredibly easy to spot. And once your star candidate detects one they’ll instantly feel like less of a name to your firm and more of just a number. 74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement. Be fastidious in noting down personal information about your candidates, and where to possibly use this info to personalize your communications.

Don’t save your communication for when a job is on offer. If you only contact your candidates to push job openings on them they’ll soon start to see your messages as spam. Top candidates will only hang around if they see value in the relationship. Call them or send them a personal message every now and again to simply ask how they’re feeling. Email them resources that you feel they’d get value out of. Ensure that they see the relationship as mutually beneficial.

Sell positions on how they’d suit your specific candidate. If you’ve been studious in collecting up info on your top candidates, you’ll have a good working knowledge of how a certain open position would benefit them. Sell job openings on the advantages that are unique to the candidate.

Manage expectations. The reality is that the majority of the candidates you submit to a job won’t be successful. If you haven’t properly managed the expectations of your candidate this can cause some disenchantment with you as a recruiter, or even ill-will. Be sure to communicate the realities of the situation clearly, or risk losing your top candidates out of nothing more than disappointment.

Differentiate yourself. You’ve obviously got some unique selling points as a recruiter – no one operates quite like you. These USPs need to be highlighted to your top candidates. Clearly define the benefits of choosing you over a competitor, and don’t be shy to show a bit of personality.

Be accessible. Top candidates don’t want to have to run after their recruiters. They (quite rightly) expect that their recruiter will be ready to answer their queries at the drop of a hat. Give your top candidates multiple ways to contact you (phone, email and social media at the very least), and set yourself a goal to reply to any message within a short timeframe.

The earlier you submit your top candidates, the more likely you are to get the hire. And the stronger your relationship with your top candidates, the earlier you’ll be able to submit them to your client. Creating this strong relationship isn’t rocket science, it’s simply treating another human being with respect and attention. But it does take commitment and a strong work ethic to make work, which is the major reason why you don’t see every recruiter doing it.

You have the knowledge and the ability to be the exception. It’s just a matter of choosing to use it.