June 18, 2018

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Voice Messages that Get Results

Whenever you make a recruiting call, you run the risk of not getting through. Either the person isn’t there, can’t pick up or is screening your call based on what’s displayed on caller ID. So, you leave a message. But what, exactly, do you say?

Clearly, your choice of words is important, since the person you’re trying to reach may turn out to be a placeable candidate, a referral source or a potentially valuable connection. However, you don’t want to try and accomplish too much when you leave a message. The only “sale” you’re trying to make is to get a returned call. So try to avoid the temptation to pitch the job or go into too much detail. All you’re looking for is a call back.

To increase the odds of that happening, I’ve scripted three different types of voice messages. The first is what I call the “name and number” option, and it goes like this:

“George, this is Bill Radin. Could you please give me a call, preferably by the end of business today? My number is (513) 624-7501 and I’d really appreciate it if you could give me a call.”

Very often, a short message like this will stimulate the person’s curiosity enough to trigger a call back. And since it doesn’t reveal anything other than your name and number, there’s little risk of exposure if someone other than the intended recipient were to monitor the message.

A second option is the “headhunter” script:

“Susan, this is Bill Radin. I’m the president of a highly specialized executive search firm, and I’m working on a director-level position with one of my clients in the process instrumentation market. Could you please give me a call? Again, my name is Bill Radin with Radin Associates, and my number is (513) 624-7501. Thanks, and I look forward to talking with you.”

This message lays out the who, what and why. Its power is derived from the authority it conveys, and the implicit benefits associated with being tapped on the shoulder by a well-connected recruiter.

The third option is what I call the “project” message:

“Frank, this is Bill Radin, with Radin Associates. I’m working on a project that deals with instrumentation used in subsea oil and gas applications in which temperature compensation affects non-linearity. If you could give me a quick call back, I’d really appreciate it. Again, my name is Bill Radin, and the best number to reach me is (513) 624-7501. Thanks, and I’ll talk to you soon.”

This script seems to work best when targeting engineering or technical candidates. Naturally, you’ll want to adjust the content so it correlates to your area of specialty.

The only downside to this approach is that sometimes the message is interpreted as a customer inquiry, and gets passed along to someone in sales. If that happens, don’t worry; you can simply turn the call around and ask for candidate referrals.

It’s always a good idea to have a recovery script, in case you need to deal with any disconnect between the message you left and the underlying purpose of your call, which is to open up a recruiting dialogue. Here’s an example:

“Frank, I really appreciate your call back, and I apologize for the somewhat cryptic nature of my voice message. I’m the president of an executive search firm, and the project I referred to relates to a high-level search on behalf of my client, who's a well-known manufacturer of ruggedized subsea sensors and transmitters. Have you got a moment to discuss the opportunity? If it’s something you might be interested in, great. Otherwise, perhaps you could refer me to someone with the appropriate background.”

Typically, I get a 50 to 75 percent conversion rate on my voice messages. However, I can drive it up to nearly 90 percent if I’m able to reference another person’s name. So, if I can begin by saying, “This is Bill Radin and I was given your name by Andrew York who used to work with you back at Process Research Associates,” it really helps establish credibility. And that’s important when you’re calling someone who doesn’t know you. Of course, if you’re going to drop a name, you need to have prior permission to use it. But I’ve found this approach to be well worth the extra effort.

Remember, your number one goal when leaving a message is to get a call back. It makes no sense to spend time sourcing qualified candidates if you can’t strike up a conversation with as many of them as possible.

- 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