June 23, 2018

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The Real Secret to Getting Candidates Interested

"Hey, Joe, My name is Scott Love. I’m a recruiter and I’d like for you to consider leaving your company right smack in the middle of the school year and relocating to a city that you’ve never visited so I can get a fee."

Sound familiar? No, that’s not what you sound like, right? That’s what the recruiter sitting in the cubicle next to you sounds like, right? You expect candidates to leave their comfort zone after only a six-minute pitch from a complete stranger. And you wonder why it doesn’t work.

Here’s the real secret to getting candidates to consider leaving their opportunity. It’s based on the concept of ‘Little Yesses." The people who sell vacuum cleaners door to door have figured it out. Their sales process begins with this question: "Is this your house?" What’s the answer? "Yes."

Next question: "Do you have carpet?"

Answer: "Yes."

Next question: "I see you have small children. Do they ever track dirt into the house?"

Answer: "Yes."

Next question: "I see you have a dog. Does your dog shed?"

Answer: "Yes."

Next question: "Would you like to live in a cleaner house and spend less time cleaning?"

Answer: "Yes."

And finally, after about 20 ‘yesses’ later, the sales rep closes the sale for a $3500 vacuum cleaner. What would happen if the first question out of the sales rep’s mouth was, "Would you like to spend $3500 for a vacuum cleaner?" They probably would get a ‘no’ because it’s such a big yes so early in the process. If we can just get one little ‘yes’ early in the process, then we continue along with more little ‘yesses’ and finally get one big ‘yes’ at the end of the deal.

Here’s how this relates with candidates. We shouldn’t think in terms of getting them to hear about an opportunity on the first call. Instead, get them to consider that maybe there is something out there that might be better than their current situation.

Here’s how you do it.

Start with your standard phrase, introducing you, your firm, and your candidate-driven Unique Selling Proposition. (I say that, "I accelerate the careers of top performers by introducing them to the best opportunities that nobody else hears about.") If they give you a rebuttal, then immediately try to build rapport instead of jumping down their throat about how great your client’s stock options are. You have no idea at this point what will move the candidate forward, so to get to that point we have to back off and build a relationship of trust, and it can be done in less than sixty seconds. Find common areas of interest, which lead to rapport, which lead to trust. ("How long have you lived in Chicago? That’s a great city. I was there when they opened up that expensive park with the big silver jelly bean. Have you been there yet?") You can build rapport with issues such as weather, industry gossip, and geography. Then come back to this question: "Joe, most people I talk to fit into one of three categories. They are either going to retire from a company they are currently with, or they are actively looking to make a move, or they are somewhere in between. Where do you think you would put yourself in that range?"

Answer: "Probably somewhere in between."

Next question: "Then do you think it’s possible, just possible, that there might just be an opportunity out there that could be better than your current situation?"

Answer: "Yes, I think it’s possible."

Congratulations. You have your first real "Yes." Then, you can move them forward with a powerful phrase that is guaranteed to break down the walls that candidates put up.

Look for it in next week’s article.

Bonus tip number one: Practice this verbiage with another recruiter in your office.

Bonus tip number two: Leave a voice mail for another recruiter in your office as if you wanted him to call you back. Then critique each other.

Bonus tip number three: Leave a voice mail message for yourself.

-Scott Love

Copyright © 2005 Scott T. Love

Scott Love improves the performance of recruiters and the margins of search firms and staffing agencies. His training website,, has become one of the largest free internet training sites for the industry. To have him show your staff how to produce more than they thought possible, call him at 828-225-7700.