‘AA has it’s 12 steps. Grief has its 7 stages. Now candidates have their 4-levels.’


I am going to start as I mean to go on here, I can’t stand the word ‘candidate’ when looking at people in a recruitment process. In-fact I’ll go one further, I hate the label ‘candidate’ that is attached to a person. I am 15 years in the recruitment game and yes, I call it a game (it’s very much cat and mouse at times believe me!) Even after 15 years, I still don’t feel the term ‘candidate’ is right. However, there are some battles worth fighting and some which you just have to accept. I have come to accept we are stuck with the term candidate when it comes to people and the part they play in recruiting.

Why is this important?

Because I think the concept of the candidate as an entity is a declining concept right now.

Candidates are dead as I boldly put at the start of this piece.

Why do think that?

We have spoken at length in recent weeks and months about how busy the jobs market is across the digital world.

Supply (the number of business who are looking to hire) is firmly outstripping demand week in week out.

If that is the case and there are not enough active people AKA ‘candidates’ to fulfil the need, then surely everyone now becomes a candidate? Surely then we can stop referring to people by that label and instead just talk about people and their skillets?

Long live people.

Why is this important?

More than ever we have to understand people, their motives, their desires, where they are on their personal journey, if we want to successfully match them to the right business.

I recently read a great article from Greg Savage which talked about candidates now living across 4 different ‘levels’ when it comes to their view of the jobs market: flirting, considering, engaged and committed.

How would these 4 stages impact the recruitment process and your ability to hire?

Surely the honest answer from most recruiters us that they just go for committed candidates only? At the end of the day, these are the people that have made a clear judgement about their future, their current position and they’re talking to the recruiter. Win, win right?

The problem is committed does not mean exclusive and therein lies the problem. As I sit writing this article, I can hear two of the team talking about a ‘committed candidate’ they were working with last week. He is ready to move, has resigned even, and is very open to a new job. A quick catch up with the candidate this morning (PHP Developer just in-case you were wondering) and he has confirmed he had 25 interviews, followed by 8 job offers in the last week alone. Committed might be the easiest option, but we don’t think easiest is best.


What is best then?

Easy, follow these 4 steps:

  1. Don’t go for the easy option.
  2. Go for the best option.
  3. Accept recruitment is a game.
  4. Embrace that the game never stops.


What will these 4 things achieve for me as I look to hire?

You will stand out as different. The above approach might take longer, but it means you are adapting and responding to the current talent and recruitment landscape (shortage.) This will instantly put you above many other businesses, who are still operating in an old-world way.

You’ll meet more people, not candidates, people.

Market knowledge is invaluable when hiring, that knowledge comes from speaking to people. Those people will go on to be assets to your network and your business. You might even end up finding out that you have common ground with those people, they like how you work and ultimately, they would love to join your business.

All of this without ever calling them a candidate.

There has to be a reality check for business soon. You can go on doing the same dance and believing there is a lack of candidates available in the market. Or you can try something new; embrace people as the living, breathing thing they are and go on the journey with them.

The candidate is dead. Long live people.

This article was written by Chloe Brown in-conjunction with Simon Brown (Simon’s the old dog with the 15 years on the clock you see.)

At Digital 51 we believe the best way to embrace the above advice is to work with a true partner to help you navigate the current recruitment landscape. We also think we are not a bad option to consider as that partner. If you’d like to hear more please drop us a line on and we’d love to tell you more.