Proactive Candidate Engagement

February 14, 2023

Ashley Meyer

Ashley Meyer

After several years in the business, we’ve just about heard it all. “There are no jobs available. People just don’t want to work these days. Experience is needed to land the job. A job is needed to gain the experience to land the job.”

Statements like these are nothing new. It seems like an endless cycle.

Greeting new colleagues, Handshake while job interviewing, male candidate shaking hands with Interviewer or employer after a job interview, employment and recruitment concept.

Whether it is the economy, the ripple effect felt during the mass lay-offs from big tech, or the fact that it seems harder to find a server than a COO, there is one theme we can count on. Proactive candidate engagement is going to be key to your hiring success in 2023. 

According to LinkedIn, 85% of recruiters are saying that engaging passive talent is going to be the number one skill that is needed over the next 5 years, and this pertains increasingly to entry-mid-level positions.  

Thankfully this is an area we can speak to. Proactive candidate engagement has formed the foundation of our Hire 4 Performance approach. An approach we have tweaked, honed and perfected over the last 13 years.  

If you want to lean in a little, we have a couple secrets to share with you. Secrets that might give you the edge on how to maximize your proactivity. Secrets that focus, form, and amplify the time and energy you put in with candidates. 

Why Proactive Candidate Engagement 

Go after what you want. 

One of the main benefits of proactive candidate engagement is that you get to be picky. When building out the role, you get to create the perfect candidate, a baseline, if you will. Some companies want a unicorn, others something more realistic. Whoever it is, you get to look for them. 

It’s nice to be wanted. 

There’s something affirming about being headhunted or recruited for a role. Candidates who are personally approached, and take the role are much more likely to stay with the company compared to people who apply directly, according to ismartrecruit. 

Don’t waste time sifting through resumes. 

If you’ve ever gone to Netflix to find something to watch without a plan, you’ll have experienced this feeling. There’s 300 B Movies, a handful of documentaries on Sub-Saharan cooking. You’ll spend about an hour scrolling, but still, nothing all that enticing. That is what it’s like when you post a role and receive a bunch of resumes. Nothing feels quite right, or at best, you get a few minutes in and it’s on to the next candidate. A solid recommendation, a long-awaited second season, or a blockbuster release you missed in theaters, now that’s a different story. That’s proactive entertainment (ahem, candidate) engagement.  

Save yourself time and money and from potentially making a bad hire. 

82% of companies are able to fill a role in less than two months by taking a proactive approach. Partnering with the right agency can also yield significant results. The right partner can help you avoid the pitfalls of subjectivity while also helping you tell your story in a unique, compelling, and connected way. 

What to do before you even start going after candidates 

  • Assess the need/vision for the role. 
  • Get on the same page as a team. 
  • Define the seat (role) before you define the candidate. 
  • Now define the candidate. What does this candidate need to possess to be a success in the role? This could include but not be limited to: The experience they need to have, what they have achieved, the technical skills they need to possess, and to what level of proficiency. Out of these elements, what is a must-have, and what are some areas of negotiation (nice to have)? 
  • Utilize an assessment tool (The Predictive Index is our assessment of choice). A candidate might look great on paper, but understanding how they think, behave, and connect is essential to making a great hire. Building a benchmark using your new team will help you assess what and who is needed, and how they will gel with the team. 
  • Consider the culture. Who you hire will impact who you’ve hired. Any new addition to the team is going to cause an impact. It’s worth taking the time to explore what that impact looks like. Culture is built over time through effective hiring and intentional leadership. 
  • Remain objective and keep returning to the need/vision. You are going to meet some stellar candidates who are going to test that. Remaining objective enables you to explore potential red flags while also authentically developing a relationship with the candidate. 
  • Create a Performance Profile (job descriptions are so last century) to give the candidate a clear picture of what success looks like in the role. 

The Process 


This is where the fun begins. Now that you have defined the perfect candidate, it’s time to build your shortlist. Successful sourcing is an art form. You get to choose who is on that list. It pays to start specific; you can always expand your parameters. 


First impressions are everything. It might take a couple of taps on the shoulder to connect with the right candidate. Developing compelling messages and exploring ways of reaching out that lay the groundwork for authentic connection. If you are going to go after A-Players, then you won’t be the only one seeking them out. Find something unique to set your outreach efforts apart and be memorable (in the right way). 


This is where a quick elevator employee value proposition (EVP) is going to be the difference maker. This is why you are interested in them and why they may be interested in you. What starts with a compelling message quickly becomes an initial call, and from there, the interest deepens (or you and the candidate have ascertained that it’s not going to be a fit).  


Once you have responded to the messages, and the initial calls have resulted in a deeper conversation, it’s time to nurture the relationship. You might have all the info you need, but others are likely going after the candidate, and you want to stay top of mind and top of the heart. Be memorable, be intentional, and whatever you do, don’t stalk them like a creeper (or just don’t get caught). This is where a lot of recruiters fall short (and why the industry has been called into question). The candidate experience rises and falls on the nurture element of the process. Communicate, communicate, and communicate (without getting desperate). Exploring new opportunities is an emotional experience. Empathetic engagement will help you stand out from contingent recruiters that are just looking for the fill. 

Soft close  

You’re ready to make the offer, but you want to make sure they’ll accept? This is where the soft close comes in, and where last-minute changes and potential counteroffers can derail everything. Luckily for you, you’ve put in the relational work during the nurture stage. You know what’s important, and you’ve developed a strong enough relationship to where you can ask the harder questions; you’ve built trust. It’s that trust that will help candidates open up to you and where you can ensure it’s a definite win-win. 


You’ve got the soft close dialed in, and it’s time to close. Get that offer letter out and do it personably and intentionally. Celebrate with them and reaffirm their decision to accept. 


You’ve made the hire, but until they show up on their first day, there’s still time for an upset. Let the onboarding begin with a little pre-boarding. Send through welcoming material, and give them an option of lunch on their first day. You want to make it so that they know exactly what they are stepping into on day one. Fear of the unknown is the biggest hurdle. Reassuring the next step, and the next, and the next is critical for a phenomenal onboarding process (remember, they are still feeling your company out even as much as 90 days into the role). 

The Hire is Just the Beginning 

Hiring doesn’t stop here, it evolves. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series, where we’ll explore investing in your new hires and developing your culture. 

  • Onboarding successfully  
  • Investing in the candidate, their career path and growth
  • Promote them
  • Grow your company and intentionally develop your culture
  • Become known for having an amazing culture and being a place candidates thrive
  • Attract more candidates
  • Do it all over again
  • Continue to make a significant impact

More than recruiters, Titus Talent Strategies are a team of Talent Optimizers who genuinely care about the work we do. We empower companies to put the right people in the right seats through informed, connected strategies that combine data with an empathetic understanding of what makes people tick. We recognize that our Partners are investing in us and that results mean more than just people placed in a role.   

Interested in outsourcing your hiring needs to Titus? We’ve got you!  


Refreshing perspectives and practical expertise from the Titus team.

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