Find Gold Talent in Your Silver Medalists

September 15, 2022

What’s new and noteworthy about the silver medalist topic in recruiting?  I found references to the term in Google going back 10+ years. Google the phrase “silver medalist recruiting”. 948,000 results.

So why write about it again? Two words: Direct Sourcing. If you’re a hiring manager or a recruiter, you should know something about direct sourcing. Today we’re exploring the link between silver medalists and direct sourcing.

First let’s touch on the fundamentals of silver medalists.

Who are Silver Medalists?

Silver medalists are job candidates presented to you (if you’re the hiring manager) or they’re the candidates you presented to the hiring manager (if you’re the recruiter) that were interviewed but didn’t get selected for the position. As an example, I submitted five candidates to you as the hiring manager, three got interviewed and one was hired; the two who got interviewed but didn’t get the job offer are the silver medalists.

Why Care About Silver Medalists?

  1. Silver medalists are more responsive to your outreach. They know you already. They may be frustrated with you because the last time you talked to them, you were the bearer of bad news (they didn’t get the job), but at the end of the day, talent knows that is NOT your fault. If you have something new to talk about, especially a potential role, talent is inclined to listen.
  2. How talent fits on one job is different than how talent will fit on another similar job. The jobs are different. “Close wasn’t good enough” can be true on one job; but for the new job, close might be exactly what is needed.
  3. Time can make talent better. Talent that was short on experience or lacking a skill last year might have gained that experience since the last time you talked to them.
  4. Culture fit rejections are being revisited (and it’s about time, if you ask me!). Company cultural norms can change, so don’t miss the opportunity to bring talent to hiring managers when ‘fit’ was the issue in the past. It’s common today for hiring managers to be nudged by HR and their leaders to reexamine the lens through which they assess ‘fit’.  Give your hiring managers a chance to reset their cultural lens.
  5. Remote and hybrid job options can make the ‘commute is too long’ issue go away.

Treat Silver Medalists Differently

  1. Use customized, even personalized, rejection notices for silver medalists. Make it clear to talent that they were close. Give silver medalists an insight into why they were a finalist but missed the mark. For most talent, this transparency makes a positive difference.
  2. Track silver medalists. Silver medalists need a unique tag in your ATS or need to be on unique tearsheets. You need to know how to find silver medalists in a hurry.
  3. Use your engagement tools to keep your hiring brand in front of talent. I thought this short video from Phenom makes this point well.
  4. Keep silver medalist’s data updated using some of the new chat-based tools that integrate to your HCM/ATS. I have seen job status, availability dates, contact information, and work experiences all updated with the chat tools from enterprise career site/ATS’s like Phenom, Sense, serving both direct employers and staffing companies and Staffing Engine’s AI enabled chat tool. Your ATS likely has an engagement tool that can be used to reach out to talent, ask a question and use the response to update your ATS. Use the silver medalist tag to define the audience for this type of campaign.


With all those reasons why silver medalists matter and seeing some suggestions for how to get the most out of silver medalists, are you ready for the answer to what does direct sourcing have to do with sliver medalists?

The answer is right in front of us: it’s the database. Direct sourcing is most successful when we have a quality database of prospective talent from which to start. Who are likely the highest quality talent in your database? Alumni and silver medalists. Your boss will know all about alumni but surprise her with a discussion about silver medalists. Help your team tap into this underutilized resource. Your conventional recruiting campaigns will perform better, and your new direct sourcing team will thank you.

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