Essential Candidate Follow-Up Tips to Survive the Talent Drought

Essential Candidate Follow-Up Tips to Survive the Talent Drought

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Yes, small businesses are having trouble hiring employees.

In September 2023, the National Federation of Independent Business reported that 40% of small businesses had trouble filling job openings — the lowest level since March 2021. And over 60% of small businesses say they’re struggling to find the right talent.

But here’s the real problem: too many SMBs are still making costly mistakes that push the best talent into the hands of their competition.

Chief among these gaffes is the all-too-often botched candidate follow-up. When you come on too weak — or too strong with a candidate, your hiring process is a turnoff. Meanwhile, your competitors who understand how to follow up with candidates snap up all the top talent and enjoy corresponding jumps in productivity and revenue.

The good news is, there are clear guidelines to candidate follow-up. And if you do just this one thing right, you’ll see a significant uptick in the quality of new hires.

The High Cost of Low Attention

At its core, attention to detail — or the lack of it — can significantly impact a company's bottom line. Consider the logistics sector, where a simple error like loading the wrong pallet can erase the profit margin of a delivery, and potentially result in a net loss.

Customer service and sales are no strangers to this problem either. Incorrect information or mismanaged transactions can lead to extensive rework, tarnish customer experiences, and ultimately, drive clients to competitors. Even small mistakes can cascade into monumental losses.

Just how much can a small mistake cost? The sky may not even be the limit. In December 2005, Mizuho Securities Co., part of Japan's second-largest bank, made a historic pricing error on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. A typing mistake resulted in 610,000 shares of a recruitment firm being sold for 1 yen each, instead of 610,000 yen per share, leading to a loss of nearly $340 million in a single day.


Understand the Hiring Landscape

In a job market where candidates hold the upper hand, SMB CEOs have to grasp the dynamics at play. While poor candidates may struggle to find a job, top candidates (the ones you want to hire) are flooded with job offers and opportunities today. That makes it easy for them to lose interest or overlook communication from potential employers. You must understand that one key fact. Once you do, it becomes painfully clear why you have to follow up promptly — and in the right way — to engage those unicorn employees and usher them swiftly through your hiring process.

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Use Emails and Texts

When it comes to following up with candidates, two primary methods stand out: Email and Text Messages. These communication channels offer distinct advantages in maintaining candidate interest and engagement. Emails provide a formal platform for detailed communication, while text messages offer a more immediate and personal touch.

Craft Compelling Follow-Up Emails

Small business CEOs who don’t know how to create candidate follow-up via email are missing the boat. Personalized communication tailored to the candidate's experience and interests can significantly increase response rates. Clear calls to action, such as scheduling interviews or providing additional information, help streamline the hiring process and keep candidates engaged.

A well-structured follow-up email should include:

  • A personalized greeting addressing the candidate by name
  • A brief recap of the previous interaction or interview
  • Clear next steps and expectations
  • Contact information for further inquiries or assistance

Here's an example of an effective follow-up email template:

Subject line: Follow-Up: Exciting Opportunity with Stellar Solutions

Email text:

Dear [Candidate's Name],

I hope this email finds you well. My name is Aaron, and I am reaching out from Stellar Solutions regarding the exciting opportunity we discussed for [Position Title]. I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your interest in joining our team, and for the insightful conversation we had during our recent interview.

After reviewing your qualifications and experience, we remain genuinely impressed by your skills and potential fit within our organization. Your background aligns perfectly with the dynamic nature of our company, and we believe your contributions could be invaluable in driving our success forward.

I understand that this is a crucial time for you, and I want to assure you that we are diligently working to finalize our decision. In the meantime, if you have any questions or need more information about the role or our company, please do not hesitate to reach out. Your satisfaction and comfort throughout this process matter a great deal to us.

To facilitate the next steps, I’ve included a scheduling link below. Please feel free to select a time that works best for you, and we can arrange for a follow-up discussion or additional interviews as needed.

[Scheduling Link]

Once again, thank you for considering Stellar Solutions as your potential employer. We’re genuinely excited about the prospect of welcoming you to our team and contributing to your professional growth and success. Your talent and expertise would be a valuable addition, and we look forward to the opportunity to work together.


Warm regards,


Aaron Smith

Talent Acquisition Specialist

Stellar Solutions


[Contact Information]


Use Text Messages to Hire Better Employees

Text messages are a direct and immediate means of communication with candidates. CEOs can leverage texts to send quick updates, reminders, or schedule interviews seamlessly. When using them, try to strike a balance between professionalism and engagement, keeping the tone respectful and courteous.

Incorporate scheduling links or other resources in your text messages to enhance convenience and streamline the hiring process for both parties involved.

Here are a few sample candidate follow-up text messages you might use at various points along the hiring process:

  1. Initial Follow-Up After Application Submission

   "Hi [Candidate's Name], this is Aaron from Stellar Solutions. Just wanted to thank you for applying for the [Position Title] role. We're impressed by your qualifications and are excited to learn more about you. Are you available for a quick chat tomorrow to discuss the next steps? Let me know a time that works for you. Thanks!"

  1. Post-Interview Follow-Up

   "Hi [Candidate's Name], Aaron here from Stellar Solutions. Thank you for taking the time to interview with us for the [Position Title] role. Your insights were invaluable, and we're excited about the possibility of having you join our team. If you have any questions or would like to discuss the position more, feel free to reach out. Looking forward to hearing from you soon!"

  1. Follow-Up to Provide Update

   "Hello [Candidate's Name], it's Aaron from Stellar Solutions. I wanted to provide you with a quick update on your application for the [Position Title] role. We're still in the decision-making process, and your candidacy remains under consideration. We appreciate your patience and will keep you informed of any developments. Have a great day!"

  1. Reminder for Additional Interview or Assessment

   "Hi [Candidate's Name], just a friendly reminder from Stellar Solutions regarding the upcoming interview/assessment for the [Position Title] role. We're excited to continue the conversation and learn more about your skills and experience. Please confirm your availability for [date/time], or let us know if you need to reschedule. Looking forward to speaking with you!"

  1. Final Follow-Up Before Decision

   "Hello [Candidate's Name], Aaron here from Stellar Solutions. I hope you're doing well. I wanted to touch base one last time before we finalize our decision for the [Position Title] role. Your candidacy has been impressive, and we're eager to move forward. If you have any final questions or would like to share any additional information, please don't hesitate to reach out. Thank you for your interest in joining our team!"

Keep Your Messaging Consistent

Consistency in follow-up efforts is crucial for maintaining candidate interest and momentum throughout the recruitment process. CEOs should establish a regular cadence for communication. At the same time, be careful not to overwhelm your candidates with excessive messages. Consistent follow-up demonstrates professionalism and commitment, fostering trust and rapport with potential hires.

Use a Candidate-Centric Mindset

Shift your perspective to prioritize candidate needs and experiences. Doing this can significantly improve your recruitment outcomes. Rather than expecting candidates to follow up, CEOs should take the initiative to reach out and engage with them proactively. Avoiding assumptions about candidate interest and preferences ensures a more inclusive and candidate-centric approach to hiring.

For instance, instead of waiting for responses, CEO Emily sends personalized thank-you notes after interviews, addressing candidate follow-up concerns. She even offers flexible interview times to accommodate their schedules. This proactive approach creates a better experience for candidates, making it easier for Emily to hire the kind of workers who propel her business forward.

Candidate follow-up tips

Optimize Your Notification Settings

Set up notification settings so you know right away when a candidate replies. The best candidates get snapped up quickly, and if you’re slow to respond, someone else can lock them in before you move. You can set up specific text or email notifications based on certain incoming subject lines. For instance, you might tell all applicants to respond with the subject line, “Attention: Project Manager Job Offer.” Then you can create a notification in your email client that pings you when that subject line comes in. (And if your applicants can’t follow that simple instruction, maybe they’re not the best fit for the job.)


Mastering candidate follow-up is a critical skill for small business CEOs navigating the competitive job market. By adopting proactive strategies such as personalized emails, engaging text messages, and consistent communication, CEOs can enhance their recruitment efforts and attract top talent. Prioritizing candidate needs and experiences, coupled with optimized notification settings, ensures a seamless and candidate-centric hiring process. With these essential strategies in place, small business CEOs can position their organizations for success, attracting and retaining quality candidates in today's dynamic job market.

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