How to Transform Your Clients into Preferred Candidates

stand out, preferred candidate

By Lori Jazvac.

I’ve learned that:

You never know where your career journey will take you – it’s about remaining true to your values, having faith that things will work out better than imagined, and managing your career growth and satisfaction!

I encourage my clients to embrace the same belief about their own careers.

Have any of your clients ever experienced a “preferred candidate” situation? In my earlier career, I recall encountering this scenario. However, by believing strongly in my value and communicating how I could meet the employer’s business goals, I outshone the other candidates and secured a job offer.

One of my clients was pursuing a management role and was told by the interviewer that a preferred candidate had been identified. My advice:

You can choose to become intimidated and walk away, or you can believe in your strengths and prove your value. You’ve worked hard! Make your candidacy more compelling.

Sometimes the recruitment, selection, and interviewing process is not straightforward, and clients may suddenly feel disempowered rather than empowered.

But all hope is not lost.

If your client is facing fierce competition in the job selection process, and is feeling uncertain as a result, help him or her consider a variety of possible scenarios before deciding on a course of action:

  • Even if your client has heard speculation via his or her network that a preferred candidate has made the top of the short-list, remind the job-seeker that “it ain’t over ’til it’s over.” In an ethical company with savvy hiring officials, all qualified applications will be considered.
  • The employer may be doing more homework to ensure they have the right candidate.
  • Inform your client that the preferred candidate may have a desired salary that is higher than the company is willing or able to pay. As a result, the employer may have no option but to move on to the applications of equally– or higher–qualified candidates. Oh, and advance knowledge of salary-as-an-elimination-factor could prove invaluable to your client should he or she subsequently be offered the job.
  • The employer may want to investigate and pursue different hiring practices. In some cases, hiring policies may not allow the flexibility to select the right candidate. For example, the hiring official may be directed by policy to fill the job vacancy internally, but what what happens if there are no strong, qualified candidates in-house? Such a situation may open the door to external candidates.
  • The preferred candidate might change his or her mind, become unavailable, or prove too demanding for the employer during the offer negotiation period.
  • In some cases, the employer may actually create an additional position and hire two candidates for the advertised role because the business is growing rapidly.

You can help your clients become preferred candidates by:

  1. Coaching them to adopt a “preferred candidate mindset” from the outset. Once he or she internalizes this belief, empowerment comes naturally, confidence is evident, performance in the interview improves, and the employer recognizes a stand-out candidate.
  2. Providing solid interview coaching, championing them to articulate their unique value and offerings on paper and in person.
  3. Encouraging them to learn the specific goals and business challenges of the employer, instead of passively following the normal hiring process. Strategizing about how they can meet those needs and resolve challenges may give them an edge.
  4. Utilizing a tailored, results-driven résumé and branded marketing collateral that highlights solid accomplishments.
  5. Demonstrating exceptional interpersonal and communication skills.
  6. Building and consistently sustaining a strong brand.
  7. Emphasizing a solid work ethic, high emotional intelligence, change leadership skills, and flexibility to navigate any situation. Employers hire jobseekers who possess in-demand, marketable skill sets.
  8. Establishing trusted relationships both online (social media platforms) and offline (in-person). Networking is the key to success!
  9. Encouraging your clients to secure referrals. Referred, qualified candidates have a greater chance of being offered the job. Review the statistics:
    • Employee referrals have the highest applicant-to-hire conversion rate – referrals make up only 7% of all applicants, but account for 40% of hires.
    • Applicants hired from a referral begin their new job faster than applicants found via job boards and career sites (after 29 days vs. 39 days via job boards and 55 days via career sites).
    • Referral hires have greater job satisfaction levels and stay longer with their employers – 46% stay 1+ year, 45% 2+ years, and 47% 3+ years.
  10. Recommending that clients try to learn as much as they can about the organizational structure and which departments exert the most power or influence. This information can work in their favour.
  11. Embracing continuous learning and professional development.

As your client’s advocate, champion him or her  to clearly demonstrate how they will go above-and-beyond in the targeted role and how they have exceeded goals in the past. A candidate who demonstrates an excellent work ethic, a collaborative mindset in supporting the team, and a leadership style that aligns with the organizational culture, may impress the employer sufficiently to secure a great offer.

Even if your client is not selected for the role, the experience of the interview process will help to increase his or her confidence. It’s also a way to add new connections to business networks, which may potentially lead to future opportunities.

To strengthen your skill in transforming your clients into preferred candidates, enrol in courses with CPC this summer.

Image by Stuart Miles on





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