When Iím in recruiting mode, the telephone is the most effective tool Iíve got. There are two reasons for this.
First, in any given situation, I may have a prospective talent pool of only a couple dozen people. Nearly all of them are passive candidates, people who donít know me, and arenít on the job market. So, if I get a low response rateósay, 10 percent, which is typical of emailóthen Iíll only have conversations with two or three people. And if I strike out with them, Iím really in the hole.
On the other hand, if I pick up the phone, Iíll generally reach 50 to 75 percent of the people on my target list, which gives me a better chance of finding someone whoís interested in the job or who can make a referral. And even if I get pushback, at least Iíll have the chance to handle objections or answer questions in real timeóa chance I wonít ever get if my emails go to a junk folder.
Second, if Iím able to have an actual conversation, then I can put the job into context and talk knowledgeably about the opportunity, the company and the industry. Doing this not only drives up the rate of candidate conversion from passive to active status, it builds my credibility and ultimately, creates a perception of competency that makes people comfortable enough to make referrals or provide me with fresh ideas about where talent might be lurking.
Like most recruiters, I start each search by identifying likely candidates who fit a certain profile based on their position titles, skills, where they work and so forth. (For the record, I use LinkedIn, Jigsaw and ZoomInfo as my primary name generators; your sourcing tools and resources may be different).
However, before I make my first recruiting call, I spend some off-hours time calling each target company and using their phone systemís dial-by-name function. About half the time, Iím able to get the candidateís extension number, which saves time and helps sidestep gatekeepers later if I call in to the companyís main number.
If the system allows it, Iíll also cross-reference my list of names to see who might have moved on, or even hunt for new names if theyíre listed by department.
I may also make a few test calls by connecting to the various extensions to see if the candidates have anything interesting to say on their outbound voice messages. For example, if a person says heís on vacation, it gives me license to call the switchboard the next day to ask whoís filling in during his absence, which is a nice little sourcing trick. Sometimes, people will provide a mobile phone number, which is a great thing to have.
Outbound messages also help me learn how to pronounce a candidateís last name or how the person likes to be referred to, which breaks the ice on the initial call and helps avoid suspicion on the part of the operator when you call in during business hours. Asking for ďRonĒ instead of ďRonaldĒ (or not stumbling over a name spelled with five consecutive consonants) may make the difference between a conversation and a hang-up.
Again, my goal is to reach as many people as possible and make the most of my opportunity to open a dialogue with folks who might be able to help me complete my assignment.
- Bill Radin
Bill Radin is one of the most popular and highly regarded trainers in the recruiting industry, and has trained many of the largest independent and franchised recruiting organizations, including Management Recruiters, Dunhill, Sanford Rose, Snelling and Fortune Personnel. His speaking engagements include the NAPS national conference, the annual Kennedy Conference, and dozens of state association meetings and network conventions, including Top Echelon and Splits.org.