Sometimes recruiters obsess so much over the science of recruiting---the "where to look"---that we tend to ignore the true art of the business, the "how to ask." These days, it seems we've all turned into info-junkies, addicted to databases, directories and Internet research.
Which is fine. Candidates don't fall out of the sky, they have to be found. And given the Internet's exotic allure of an unlimited supply of highly skilled candidates, what recruiter wouldn't be tempted to compile a list of 100 names before even having to pick up the phone?
Unfortunately, the mountain of evidence approach to recruiting threatens to become an end unto itself, as we increasingly rely on raw data, rather than strong relationships as the best source of qualified candidates. Today's recruiter frequently squanders resources already available by failing to leverage relationships into referrals.
Go Right to the Source
For example, many candidates can be found simply by taking the time to ask the employer for referrals. By deposing the decision maker before the search begins, you can eliminate many hours of unnecessary research and data collection. Here are some simple questions to ask as you write your next search assignment:
It's also advisable to ask the employer for the names of any candidates that have already been interviewed or are known to be unsuitable. That way, you'll save time and eliminate the risk of embarrassing yourself by presenting duplicate or unwanted candidates.
Your Presentation is Everything
In a first-call situation, you have very little time to "connect" with another person, so your recruiting script has to quickly stimulate interest in order for a dialogue to develop. A classified ad script (as in, "My client is a Fortune 500 company, looking for a degreed engineer with three years' experience in automotive gears, knowledgeable in CAD/CAM, blah, blah, blah. . . ") is almost guaranteed to put the candidate to sleep, and will probably stereotype you as a mere telemarketer.
In contrast, by using a technique called storyboarding, you'll connect more quickly with candidates and dramatically increase the number of referrals you receive. Storyboarding sets the table for dialogue by incorporating the element of drama into your presentation. Once you'd piqued the candidate's interest, the two of you are more likely to engage in conversation, and the candidate will more freely exchange ideas and provide you with referrals.