Any time I make a cold recruiting call, I know that one of four things will happen.
Either Iíll reach the candidate and have a conversation, or Iíll leave a voice message. Or, Iíll hang up before leaving a message, or end up talking to an intermediary or gatekeeper.
In a perfect world, every call would result in a productive conversation with a candidate whoís courteous, fully engaged, qualified to fit the position and wants to take the next step.
But how often does this happen? It depends. The metric I use to measure my success in converting a first-call passive candidate to a first-level interview with my client is called the ďpitch-to-sendoutĒ ratio, which is an indicator of how attractive the job is to the talent pool. Historically, my ratio is about seven to one, which means that for every seven conversations (or opportunities to ďpitchĒ the job), one will convert to an interview, or sendout.
In searches that are devilishly difficult, the ratio can be much higher. For example, at the current moment Iím in the middle of a search thatís bogging down pretty badly, and my pitch-to-sendout ratio is about three times my historical average.
Regarding your voice mail strategy: Remember, you have a choice as to whether to leave a message. In most cases, Iíll hang up and not leave a message on my first or second attempt. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, I want to be in control of the call and not be reacting to a return call that might arrive at a time I have other things on my mind. And second, I donít want to leave it up to the candidate to decide whether to talk to me or not. Itís far more effective to place a call and have it received, rather than leave a message and pray the person will call you back.
Demeanor and Image Control
Naturally, if I donít get a call back within a day or so, Iíll try again. Sure, it can be frustrating not to be able to reach someone you really want to talk to. And if I have a really tight deadline, I may just go ahead and leave messages and take my chances.
Itís important to project a positive attitude and hide any frustration you might feel, especially towards someone whoís been serially unresponsive. Leaving a snarky voice mail doesnít make a person any more likely to call you back. And besides, there might be a good reason for not getting a return call, like being on vacation or suffering from a death in the family. I figure if Iím going to cultivate an image, Iíd rather come across as professional, rather than irritable.
With gatekeepers, I play it right down the middle. At one extreme, you can try a ruse in order to get through to the person youíre trying to reach. At the other extreme, you can tell the unvarnished truth, that youíre a recruiter whoís calling to discuss a job opportunity with the gatekeeperís boss.
Iíve found that neither of these angles works, and that if you run up against an unfriendly or suspicious gatekeeper, you can simply regroup and try your call during lunch or after hours and avoid the hassle altogether.
If you must engage, keep a low profile. And whatever you do, donít leave a message with the gatekeeper; ask if you can be directed to voice mail or to a cell phone number. If the gatekeeper asks where youíre calling from, say youíre from Cincinnati, Ohio or Santa Fe, New Mexico or wherever you live. For some reason, the geographic answer seems to satisfy their curiosity.
In terms of when to make your recruiting calls, it depends on the profile of the person youíre trying to reach. For example, the executive-level candidates I work with get to work early and leave late, so I try to time my calls when theyíre most likely at their desks. Other than that, I try not to overthink my timing, and accept the fact that reaching people is mostly a roll of the dice.
In looking at my own metrics over the years, Iíve been able to connect with the people Iím trying to reach about 75 percent of the time. The non-connects are evenly divided between gatekeepers who screen me out and candidates who never return my calls. Iíd like to think that everyone is reachable and wants to hear about new opportunities. But realistically, not everyoneís in a position Ė mentally, physically or spiritually Ė to make a significant change in their lives, even if itís Bill Radin calling.
- Bill Radin
Bill Radin is a top-producing recruiter whose innovative books, tapes and training seminars have helped thousands of recruiting professionals and search consultants achieve peak performance and career satisfaction. Billís extensive experience makes him an ideal source of techniques, methods and ideas for rookies who want to master the fundamentalsóor veterans ready to jump to a higher level of success. more immune to future recessions.