Cracking The Candidate Code- A Presentation From Inspire

Back in March I delivered a talk for Inspire. It involved a fast-paced delivery about cracking the candidate code. Due to a few tech issues we only recently received the recording. Here is the transcription for you.


The recruitment industry has grown exponentially in recent years, which has made it a competitive marketplace. It’s also a candidate-driven market and that’s left many employers and recruitment agencies scratching their heads, just wondering about how are you going to attract these stand out candidates?

But the thing is, if you want to attract standout candidates, something else has to stand out, and that’s your marketing.

Because if your marketing messages are not speaking to those penguins, the candidate version of them, you’re going to have a challenge. If your marketing messages are just a spray and pray approach, it’s going to be challenging to get those ideal candidates for those ideal clients.

Now recently, a survey was published where consultants were asked, “What do you think is important to candidates?” Consultants said, “Career advancement, remuneration and then work/life balance,” but candidates said, “Remuneration, then work/life balance, then career advancement.” They did agree, though, that number four was company culture.

The other thing that was important for candidates –  a third of them said, “Company ethics. How my company works is critical.

My commute to work is essential and if I can work from home, as well, even better.” But consultants didn’t spot that. It wasn’t on their radar, which kind of raises a question, and that is, do we understand our candidates as well as we think we do?

Now, we can see why our penguin stands out, but when it comes to candidates, we only see so much of the surface, because what makes them tick, what makes them drive, what decides who they are, is really, really well hidden. Take an employee of ours who we recruited last year. We had a really good idea about the kind of person that would make a great ops administrator and what that would mean for our expanding business.

But we had to do some digging to find out if that CV matched up in real life, and it was only through telephone and face-to-face interviews that we got that match. Now you and I experience each other every single day through what we say and what we do, in different places, and tonight we’re in the school setting. But what’s important to people, what drives them day by day, week after week, month after month, it is hidden. We have to identify what these values are.

That’s just a jargon word. It’s what’s important to people. So we use some great questioning. “What’s important to you. What else? What else?” Keep digging. “What does that mean for you? What will that achieve for you, if you get that next role?” You get a list. You get them to prioritise which is most important, but then you keep on digging. You take that list one by one, and you circle through those questions again. “If you get this new role, what will that mean for you? What will it mean for your family? How will you get to achieve what you want to achieve?”

You come up with a detailed list of what is essential to those ideal candidates that you are looking to attract to your clients. When you get that perfect candidate or that ideal client, we all know that’s some things will happen for you and your business and your clients, as well as candidates. Dogs, they’re attracted by a particular frequency of their owner’s whistle. Now you imagine that if your marketing communications called out specific candidates precisely the same way, because when you know and could crack that candidate code with all that knowledge, those messages would land and you will attract those candidates.

But to do that, we have to stop doing some things, and we have to stop assuming we know everything about what’s important to our candidates. What we do need to do is chill out with them. Get curious and seek to understand before we make ourselves understood about what job you might have to offer them. Now, a takeaway message is to remember that the treasure to cracking the candidate code that will allow you to communicate your marketing messages to attract those ideal candidates is underneath the surface of the water.



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