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The power and potential of re-engaging dormant candidates

Posted by
Alexandra Kane
October 31, 2022

If your staffing firm has been operating for at least a year or so, chances are your database is teeming with qualified talent. While you may have only placed anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred (or more), there are many, many more candidates waiting in your database for you to match them with the right opportunity. All you need is the right technology and processes to uncover them. 

But the potential within your database goes even further (and deeper). Within the grouping of “dormant candidates,” you can look closer to identify several core groups:

Never converted

Whether they turned down an opportunity with your firm or simply weren’t the right fit at the right time, these professionals never made the leap from “candidate” to “contractor.” 


Contractors or FTE who have already been placed with your staffing firm, but now sit dormant in your database.

Silver medalists

Talent who, at one point or another, was among your top performers. You could count on them to fill some of your most in-demand roles, and your clients could count on them to deliver exceptional results.

It makes a lot of sense to re-engage dormant candidates (aka $$$)

Finding new, “cold” talent leads in a talent-driven market can feel like an absurdly uphill climb. With more employers than ever bombarding professionals with ineffective marketing messages and outreach, it is even harder to stand out, let alone generate a positive response. 

Trying to stand out takes a significant amount of time from your team (and as we all know, time = $$), and even more funds directly to publish jobs on more boards, run social media ads and more -- all in the name of standing out. 

In other words, finding and landing new talent today can be expensive

Whether you had one or two previous touchpoints or a dozen, re-engaging candidates with whom you have A) a previous relationship and B) data (!!) is an extremely effective and efficient way of maximizing your resources. And when you use the right engagement technology to resurrect these candidates, you are truly taking advantage of every corner of that candidate database. 

In fact, SIA reports that recruiting from your existing candidate database offers the highest “bang-to-buck” return on spend and effort. Sounds good to us!

Try this to take your candidates from “dormant” to “placed”

With the right technology, putting database marketing and automation to work in order to resurrect your dormant candidates is both time efficient and incredibly effective. Let’s take a look at those three categories of dormant talent from above and take a look at some ways to approach re-engagement.

Never converted

Your touchpoints with these candidates could range from “submitted a resume and never moved further” to “went through two interviews but wasn’t selected” and many more in between. There’s some good news here -- regardless of how far they went in the process, candidates who have never been converted have some sort of expectation of the process with your staffing firm. 

A lot of hesitation among talent today is the unknown of how long the hiring process will take, how much engagement they’ll receive, how they’ll be treated and more. Depending on how far they went in the process previously, these candidates can have a very strong idea of what it’s like to work with you. And if you’re using the right candidate engagement platform to provide seamless, positive talent journeys, those expectations are very likely to be positive as well.

A very simple way to re-engage these candidates and, at the onset, re-introduce yourself with a positive touchpoint is to automate birthday texts. Everyone likes getting “Happy Birthday” texts -- they’re a super small gesture that leaves nothing but positive sentiment. When you couple that “happy birthday” message with either an open-ended question (eg How are things going with your career) or a specific call to action (eg. I was just thinking about you for an XX job. Are you looking for new opportunities right now?), you can immediately get things started (again). When you can, address the elephant in the room -- you know that the opportunity wasn’t a fit for the previous role, but they are a GREAT fit for this new one. 

Conversely, you could also automate birthday texts to all dormant candidates as a way of staying top of mind and always keeping the line of communication open. Rather than strategically sending birthday texts with a specific CTA in mind, staying in touch with touch points like this can make talent more receptive to messages when you do have specific opportunities in mind. 


If candidates who have never been placed can realistically expect a certain process and result, then alumni are especially prepared for the experience of working with you -- the uncertainty is all but eliminated. That means you’ve already got way more than one foot in the door 👍

Effectively re-engaging alumni starts by tapping into the rich data you have entered into your ATS, while ensuring that it integrates seamlessly with your candidate engagement platform (shameless plug: Sense integrates seamlessly with the most popular and powerful ATS platforms used by the staffing industry). 

Keeping up with every alum in your database would require at least one full-time employee (if not a team) to wade through your ATS and manually line up set criteria with your current job openings. Even doing a search using your ATS would require significant extra manpower to prepare and send re-engagement messaging. 

There are a few ways you can re-engage dormant alumni: 

One is by staying in contact during and after their placement. This one step alone can significantly impact redeployment. Checking in during placements ensures that your talent is happy, and gives them an opportunity to ask questions. Following up after a gig has ended is especially potent at keeping that door open while also demonstrating your investment in their success and happiness. Rather than re-engagement, this can probably be filed more under contractor engagement, and is a step you can take right now to keep your candidate database engaged moving forward. You can further engage alumni by sending regular emails with career resources and new openings, and other automated communications to keep the relationship warm. 

Looking straight at re-engagement to dust off dormant alumni and get them back into the fold, it’s important to use talent’s preferred communication platform to reach out. While you have the benefit of familiarity, you’re much more likely to get a response if you use a candidate’s preferred platform. In many cases, this will also be text. It’s just that much easier to reach people on the devices they’re checking dozens of times per day! 

Going on the assumption of text, using automation and tapping into your database, you can create and automate message templates to alumni who have been dormant for a set period of time (either a single message or a workflow). It’s important here to make these messages as personalized as possible, to re-establish the rapport and relationship that was previously built as an alum. Here are some sample messages to build from: 

Hey [NAME] - are you still open to contract [ROLE] jobs? If so, I think I may have a job that would be perfect 👍

Hi [NAME] - Happy fall 🍁 I know we haven’t touched base in awhile, so I wanted to see how you’re doing.

While these can serve as starting points, you can build out entire sequences or workflows of messages with specific roles (depending on background, skills, etc), or with specific calls to action in order to re-engage. 

Data is only as helpful and good as it is accurate. Database marketing and automation helps keep your database up to date and fresh so that your rich pool of talent is ready and current when the right job comes along, at the right time. Setting up a database refresh workflow can help you stay top of mind with candidates while periodically ensuring your database is up to date. To start it off, a simple text can work very well:

Hi [NAME], is your zip code still 90210? 

Of course you can swap out zip code for email address, roles/skills, and just about any other delineator. Suddenly, an innocuous-enough text not only helps you stay in touch with dormant candidates, it ensures your database is refined and at its most powerful 👊 In fact, the database refresh can be used with any group of dormant candidates. 

Silver medalists

The creme de la creme of your database, for one reason or another, these silver medalists are no longer active with your staffing firm. Once again, the combination of your robust ATS data and a powerful candidate engagement platform can combine to seamlessly and effectively search and automate within those silver medalists. 

Unlike the first two categories, your silver medalists are likely represented by far fewer candidates. If you haven’t already, it makes sense to segment them into a group within your ATS and candidate engagement platform. Hang their pictures on the wall, create songs to remember them by, do whatever it takes to keep these superstars top of mind (okay, those may have been a bit extreme 😬). 

As with previous recommendations, continuing engagement through automated touchpoints is the most potent way to keep silver medalists engaged and increase the likelihood of re-re-deployment 😉.

Aside from continuous engagement moving forward, the plan of action for silver medalists is very similar to that of standard alumni. However, in this circumstance, the increased level of familiarity and rapport requires even more personalized messaging.  When coming in cold with re-engagement, take advantage of your extensive data and the power of your engagement platform to craft highly engaging and personalized messaging. Again, considering the value and popularity of texting right now (not to mention the incredibly high engagement rate),  let’s go on the assumption you’ll be sending texts. Here are some mini-workflow suggestions with warmer, more personal language to build off of: 

1st TEXT: Hey [NAME] - it’s been ages! How have you been? Are you still open to [POSITION] roles?

2nd TEXT: No worries if you’re not looking anymore -- but shoot me a message if you’re interested 👍 

1st TEXT: Hi [NAME] - Time has flown by, hasn’t it? It seems like forever since we’ve talked! 

2nd TEXT: Are you still considering [POSITION] roles? If you’re still on the lookout, let’s catch up.

For candidates with whom you’ve had a particularly strong relationship, you may want to personally call those individuals. This can signal you are truly interested in working together again, and even if you’re unable to reach talent this way, you can follow up with a short text, and you can still get “credit” for the intent and personal nature of the call.

Be sure to respect the close relationship you’ve had with silver medalists in the past. That means being up front (regardless of communication method) with all the details you know about the positions, and total transparency about what they can expect. You’re much more likely to receive a favorable response when you treat these special candidates with the care they deserve. 

A strong candidate engagement platform makes re-engaging talent simple and efficient.

The key to successful re-engagement of dormant candidates (and continuous, successful engagement of all talent) is the right engagement partner. At Sense, we’re much more than a technological solution -- we are your strategic partner. With the power of our robust platform (designed specifically for staffing firms) and the knowledge of our Customer Success Managers, you gain more than a commodity, you gain a true team working with you to help you reach your goals. To see Sense in action and learn more about how our platform can help your staffing firm, schedule a demo today.

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