Approach Passive Candidates Differently

The truly passive candidate is a horse of a different color. Usually, they can’t be found anywhere on the Internet. They’re many times the result of someone calling into a specific company and asking who the person is holding a specific title or doing a specific function. The work is difficult and time-consuming and takes a special approach, one that few sourcers but many great recruiters possess.

I’m going to outline how and why approaching telephone-sourced names is very different from approaching names you’ve found on the Internet or persons behind the resumes sent to you each day.

We received a rather large order (300 names) in this week from a customer that we had done substantial work for (about 200 names) in the last half of 2009. Corresponding back and forth refining some of the current search’s details, I casually asked, “How many hires have you had out of the last names we sent?”

Expecting to hear, “Half a dozen,” or something close to that number, to my surprise this is what I received back from a circular sent through the team that asked:

“Do you recall, with your work with TechTrak, whether you hired anyone they provided?”

One of the recruiters said:

“Out of my searches thus far, we have not.”

Another said:

“No, I did not. I very rarely received a return call from the messages I would leave people.”

Alarmed and wondering what was going so terribly wrong, I asked that recruiter what it was he was saying when he called the telephone-sourced names we had sent. Sounding ill-fitting, he replied that he’ll typically say the following:

Hello, my name is ___________. I located your contact information online and have a very exciting (marketing/sales) opportunity to discuss with you. Please reach me at (___) ___ – ____ to learn more about this great opportunity, I promise not to take more than a couple minutes of your time. I look forward to speaking with you; have a great day!

I say ill-fitting because, although you may be thinking to yourself that the message sounds good (and ordinarily it might sound good) it is not being applied properly in this situation.

The situation I’m referring to is the first contact of a truly passive candidate. Remember, as I’ve written before, the truly passive candidate deserves an entirely different approach than what you’d use to approach someone you found on the Internet’s very popular social networking darling LinkedIn. When you call someone you found on LinkedIn (or anywhere else on the Internet) chances are they’ve been called before by recruiters about different job opportunities. Don’t kid yourself. You’re not Amerigo Vespucci.

Calling someone back who sent you their resume is another example of a technique that differs wholly from calling a phone-sourced name. Those job-seekers don’t ask questions when you call. They’re just so glad you called them they’ll generally tell you anything you want to know. There’s not a whole lot of challenge in engaging people who desperately want to be engaged.

The first thing most telephone-sourced people will say to you when you call is something akin to a surprised, “I’m not looking for a job!” or “How’d you get my name?” You must answer both of these concerns while at the same time capturing their attention, whetting what may be a sated appetite. It calls for an approach that engages them from their perspective.

Their perspective is that of a happy and satisfied employee who’s not looking for another job and is productive and fruitful in the one they have. Capturing their attention must be done within moments and overall must be done by surprise.

The following is an example of how we approach phone-sourced names. Bear in mind we are mindful at all times that the majority of these people are not looking for jobs.

When we “profile” a phone-sourced list we call through the field we’ve identified a minimum of six times before we even think about leaving a message. Most calls go to VoiceMail, and in our call sheets we detail what happens on each call. The following is an example of a divisional controller position for a billion-dollar division of a bank we phone-sourced and then profiled. There were about 30 companies on the original target list that yielded a total of 75 names that were later profiled. The call notes are in italics.

The client wanted only the group controller/chief accounting officer profiled at this company:

Company Name:

Location:

Phone:

Fax:

Mutual funds

Annual Sales (mil.): $344.9

Total Employees: 1,500

Employees at This Location: 900

*It appears that the CFO and Group Controller for ______ are out of Atlanta. Call to be transferred to either (Georgia Number): ___________

Name: CFO

Name: Group Controller/Chief Accounting Officer

Mar 15 10:40 Assistant answered; he’s on the other line

Mar 16 9:25 VM

Mar 17 1:56 VM

Mar 17 4:55 VM

Mar 18 10:51 Assistant answered and said he’s in meetings until after lunch — sometime mid-afternoon

Mar 23 2:22 In Europe this week — should be back next week

When you see “VM” it means we reached VoiceMail. We did not leave one. We rarely leave VoiceMail before half a dozen calls are made.

The following is an example that shows more of the consistent contact approach and some of the results from that approach. The client wanted both the managing director, strategy and finance group, and the corporate CFO names profiled from the corporate side. It became immediately apparent that both people had the same assistant answering their calls  and we’d have to go through her to reach them. In this case we left a message with her early on.

Company Name:

Location:

Phone:

Fax:

2009 Employees: 13,000

1-Year Employee Growth: 4.5%

Employees at This Location: 9,500

There are two CFOs here: one for the fund side, and one for the corporate side.

Name: Managing Director, Strategy and Finance Group

Mar 15 10:41 Long phone system waits — company may be having phone trouble

Mar 16 9:29 Assistant takes his calls and answers “VP Strategy & Finance;” press zero for Regina. He’s in London/out this week/she’s not sure when he’ll be back

Mar 23 2:23 “You’re nice to call/I’m very flattered/this is an unusual call — we have very good things going on here so now’s just not the right time for me — would be happy to pass along to others though.” Sent job description to him by email.

Name: Corporate CFO

Mar 17 1:56 Regina answers for him — He’s in a meeting from 1-2, 2-3, 4-6. I told her I would call him back later in afternoon between or after his meetings — she said “fine.”

Mar 17 6:00 Company closed at 5:30 and there was no way to navigate phone system to him after hours

Mar 18 10:52 In a meeting; left message w/Regina. He called me back in the afternoon and said most of the people he knows are at his own company — sees this as a step down for him but he’d be happy to pass along — send job description to his email address.

The following is an example of one company where we reached (and profiled) someone. The client wanted both the CFO and SVP finance/controller profiled. The legend shows the results:

Company Name:

Location:

Phone:

Fax:

2008 Sales (mil.): $680.1

1-Year Sales Growth: (34.9%)

2008 Net Income (mil.): ($154.7)

2008 Employees: 1,186

1-Year Employee Growth: (21.6%)

Article Continues Below

Name: CFO

Mar 15 10:54 Out of the office for a family emergency — assistant is not sure when he will be back

Mar 18 11:00 VM

Mar 23 2:30 VM — he’s on other line

Name: SVP finance/controller – under him are divisional controllers if you want them.

Mar 15 10:52 VM

Mar 16 9:36 VM In middle of a meeting — can I call him back in ten minutes (9:47)?

Mar 16 9:47 VM I left message and he called me back at 10ish …  profiled, interested in talking further

Here’s a result that shows a possible business opportunity for a recruiter working in this space. The client wanted both the SVP/CFO and the VP finance profiled:

Company Name:

Location:

Phone:

Fax:

2009 Sales (mil.): $651.9

1-Year Sales Growth: (6.7%)

2009 Net Income (mil.): $99.0

1-Year Net Income Growth: (11.7%)

Name: SVP and CFO

Mar 15 10:45 No longer with company. Last day was last Tuesday, Mar 9

Name: VP Finance

Mar 15 10:45 VM

Mar 16 9:35 VM

Mar 17 1:58 VM

Mar 17 4:56 VM

Mar 18 10:54 VM

Mar 23 2:29 VM

Sometimes it takes several attempts at differing times on different days to reach these telephone-sourced names. When you do get them to answer, remember that you have only a few moments to capture their attention.

Hi. This is Maureen Sharib. You don’t know me, but I’m calling you from Cincinnati, Ohio, on behalf of a company called ___________. They have an open position for a divisional CFO role that will be reporting to a global CFO and they’ve asked me to contact you to see if you might have an interest in talking about this opportunity at this time.

When I just hear silence I continue:

“Nobody said you were looking for a job. The intent here is to locate and talk to persons who are happy in their positions with the idea that these people are likely to be the most productive.”

If that doesn’t move them, then there’s a pretty good chance you’ve got a dud on the line and you may as well cut bait as fast as possible. But usually, 9 times out of 10, at some point in the above exchange they begin to talk. That’s all I need. Once they start talking they usually spill the beans.

Recently I saw a tweet that reiterated this principle:

Research indicates that it takes an average of eight attempts to reach a decision-maker.

If that’s so, why would these people be any different? They’re decision-makers for their own careers. It’s going to take some time to reach them.

To circle back to the hapless recruiter’s message that he’d been leaving for telephone-sourced names, it’s now pretty apparent to see why the message isn’t working.

Hello, my name is ___________. I located your contact information online and have a very exciting (marketing/sales) opportunity to discuss with you. Please reach me at (___) ___ – ____ to learn more about this great opportunity. I promise not to take more than a couple minutes of your time. I look forward to speaking with you; have a great day!

The great majority of the people he’s calling are not looking for a job, so his message isn’t resonating.

Because these people aren’t looking for new jobs I want to be in control of the process and own the element of surprise when I call.

I want to address the surprised objection in person when they say “I’m not looking for a job” or “How’d you get my name?” rather than having them think it while listening to a voice message left on their VoiceMails and deleting it as a result of their (negative) thought process.

Hammering an early question across like “Why do you want to work for us?” won’t work because they’ll back up and say something like:

“…Uhh, well I didn’t really ask to work for you — you’re calling me — remember?”

Likewise, talking about salary may be a little premature but you’ll be surprised how many ask you what your new position pays. It’s a perfect opportunity to find out what they’re earning now, if you’re after that kind of information.

Remember to frame your questions in a “first-touch” sort of way for better results. Asking them to tell you a little about themselves usually opens the floodgates. At this point, your job is to listen.

If you’re only calling telephone-sourced names one time and leaving a message for them, you’re making a huge mistake in your approach and throwing good money down the drain. These people need to be courted and wooed. If that’s too much trouble for you, maybe another line of work would be more appropriate.

Maureen Sharib has been a “Socratic sourcer” her entire sourcing career; from the moment she first picked up the faxed list of Silicon Valley high-tech companies that was her target list to “phone source” in 1996 to today she has instinctively followed this method of investigative sourcing using (mostly) the telephone.  She is a proponent of sourcing as a synonym for success and envisions the craft moving away from a dangerously drudgery-paced life-form existence to an exciting investigative/competitive place within organizations where practitioners co-exist within a framework of market research, human resources, and C-level future planning. She owns the phone sourcing and competitive intelligence firm TechTrak.com, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at techtrak.com or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!

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50 Comments on “Approach Passive Candidates Differently

  1. Hi Maureen,

    There was a recent discussion about a hypothetical posting from a company that said it wouldn’t accept resumes that could be found on LI or Facebook.

    What are your thoughts re: something like this?

    Thank You,

    Keith

  2. Maureen – I’ve experienced those type of calls in the past and got the impression that the caller hadn’t done their research or had a poor approach to engage with passive candidates. I agree with your assessment of this situation – even more pathetic if this being done to attract executive level talent!!!

    On several occasions, I’ve actually been contacted for positions that had nothing (or very little) to do with my experience. For example, one time a recruiter/sourcer called me about a compensation analyst position. While, I do have SOME compensation experience due to my generalist background, that is certainly not a prominent part of my skill set.

    I politely declined further discussion due to that obvious lack of fit. The worst part, is that same person contacted me for the exact same role about a month later… When I mentioned that, they seemed oblivious – not quite sure how/why they wouldn’t use a better system to know who they’ve already spoken to.

    I’ve also had similar experiences with people contacting me for HRIS analyst roles. While I’ve been through a few implementations and used several systems – again, that is not a major piece of my background. These contacts were from people who had access to enough of my information to know where I had worked and in what positions, so it should have been more evident where my expertise was and wasn’t.

    I’ve also been sourced for positions outside of my desired geographic area. Usually, this happens when the search is being conducted out of state. Where I am located (Southern California) something that is 25-50 miles away would be completely out of the question commute-wise for many people. However, in other places that might be entirely acceptable and expected. These callers usually don’t have enough knowledge of the locale to understand what is reasonable. I’ve actually had some of them get upset when I said that I wasn’t interested due to the distance – they didn’t get it because they thought mileage radius they were working from was just fine and dandy.

    Either way, the main thing that comes to mind with these types of calls is that they are not doing a very good job of representing their employer or client. Very unfortunate, especially if they are targeting “passive” candidates.

    And, that “why do you want to work for us?” question needs to be retired, regardless of the candidate’s active/passive status.

  3. Maureen – I’m just a low-level worker-bee, but I’ve experienced those type of calls in the past and didn’t get the impression that the caller had done their research or had a poor approach to engage with passive candidates. I agree with your assessment of this situation. Even worse if this is happening to attract executive level talent!!!

    On several occasions, I’ve actually been contacted for positions that had nothing (or very little) to do with my experience. For example, one time a recruiter/sourcer called me about a compensation analyst position. While, I do have SOME compensation experience due to my generalist background, that is certainly not a prominent part of my skill set.

    I politely declined further discussion due to that obvious lack of fit. The worst part, is that same person contacted me for the exact same role about a month later… When I mentioned that, they seemed oblivious – not quite sure how/why they wouldn’t use a better system to know who they’ve already spoken to.

    I’ve also had similar experiences with people contacting me for HRIS analyst roles. While I’ve been through a few implementations and used several systems – again, that is not a major piece of my background. These contacts were from people who had access to enough of my information to know where I had worked and in what positions, so it should have been more evident where my expertise was and wasn’t.

    I’ve also been sourced for positions outside of my desired geographic area. Usually, this happens when the search is being conducted out of state. Where I am located (Southern California) something that is 25-50 miles away would be completely out of the question commute-wise for many people. However, in other places that might be entirely acceptable and expected. These callers usually don’t have enough knowledge of the locale to understand what is reasonable. I’ve actually had some of them get upset when I said that I wasn’t interested due to the distance – they didn’t get it because they thought mileage radius they were working from was just fine and dandy.

    Either way, the main thing that comes to mind with these types of calls is that they are not doing a very good job of representing their employer or client. Very unfortunate, especially if they are targeting “passive” candidates.

    And, that “why do you want to work for us?” question needs to be retired, regardless of the candidate’s active/passive status.

  4. Well written post Maureen,
    Thank you for presenting a viable case that finding resumes is easy, but recruiting top talent is very hard work.

    I agree that using the latest tools might be effective in finding resumes, but the human aspect for recruiting passive candidates is essential in cold calling, relationship building, creating a need, selling the opportunity, and counseling skeptical candidates through the interview maze of job placements. I guess the GPS app for this aspect of recruiting has not yet been developed.

    The biggest risk however that is if you are successful in motivating a passive candidate to take action and the next step is the dreaded “apply on-line” process; it chokes candidates’ enthusiasm which will undermine the efforts of the recruiter and tarnish the brand of the employer. It is important to have a good understanding of the entire interview process and access to hiring managers for this to work.

  5. This is just GREAT stuff.

    How in the world did you know I was staring at a cold-call list and wondering, after 31 years on the phone, how I was going to do something, ANYTHING, new and different with it this morning?

    Now my neighbors and my police sergeant friend don’t need to experience the disturbing spectacle of a middle-aged man racing through my quiet neighborhood in a bathrobe screaming, “I’m bored as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more”.

    Bless you, my child.

    Now, where’s my pen….?

  6. Maureen – Good article !

    Maybe a silly observation on my behalf but is it time that you look at expanding the service offering to server up not just researched names, but prequalified and interested candidates to corporate recruiters?.
    Maybe I am stating the obvious here but it seems to me that the majority of name gen work provided by research firms (not just TechTrak) never really produces any real final outcome because they (recruiters) cannot, or will not or don’t know how to consume what you produce.
    Since you have demonstrated the skills of being able to convert a “true passive lead” as you say into a potential QIA candidate, then you are only 1 phone call away from a fee for a name ($45+)to a fee for a placement (45k+)

    Not trying to be a smarty pants on the subject, rather I wonder if whole research name space if trying to lead a horse to water when the majority of horses don’t seem to be able to swim 😉

  7. I would HIGHLY recommend Recruiters and Sourcers not enter a conversation pitching an “open position”, an “opportunity”, a “job”, etc. That is the LAST thing you should be discussing – you haven’t even established a level of trust as of yet. If you’re not niched as well, you should be even more hesitant to open with a script like this.

    If it’s an active candidate, then your margin for error is greatly reduced. However, this article is about passive candidate recruiting, and I can tell you point-blank that you should NEVER make a passive candidate feel pre-screened. Put yourself in the passive candidate’s shoes for a minute – think like the customer! 🙂

    In fact, this article is not a description of real recruiting – it’s a description of a pre-screen. If you’re working at the bottom 20% of the organization, then pre-screen away. Teenagers, for example, are used to being pre-screened. If you’re dealing with niche talent or higher-level talent (Director and above), pre-screening is a sure-fire way to damage the “Client’s” employment brand as well.

    This article is about a recruiting a passive CFO candidate . . . and you should NEVER pre-screen a candidate of this organizational level. You won’t even get to the plate; put better, your Client won’t even get to the plate. And if the Client happens to figure this out and hires a real Executive Recruiter to remedy the employment brand damage, they’ll still have an uphill battle to climb recruiting that particular CFO.

    To all Recruiters and Sourcers out there, I would recommend doing all you can to build trust and establish a level of rapport before immediately speaking about a given position. After all, your job is to actually recruit someone (i.e. make a sale), not pre-screen someone.

    ———-

    “Hi. This is …. You don’t know me, but I’m calling you from Cincinnati, Ohio, on behalf of a company called ___________. They have an open position for a divisional CFO role that will be reporting to a global CFO and they’ve asked me to contact you to see if you might have an interest in talking about this opportunity at this time.”

  8. Ted – now I KNOW you know what to do with telephone sourced names – you’ve demonstrated that time and time again! Did you mean, “Now, where’s my PHONE?”

    Rob – point well taken and something that has always mystified me. I suspect some of it has to do with the “Great Resistance” many recruiters have about this supposedly not being a “sales” business. That’s exactly what it is and if you don’t believe it – well – maybe “…another line of work would be more appropriate.”

    😉

    So, what do you think “prequalified and interested candidates to corporate recruiters” is worth?

    Kelly: Points all well taken and so accurate!

    Keith: This is the chance you take (as a sourcer) if your research results are wholly dependent on Internet results.
    As I recall, that wasn’t a hypothetical posting you’re referring to. It seems the actual language went like this:
    “If you represent an agency, please do not submit resumes to any person or any email address at Silver Peak Systems, without a prior written agreement from Staffing. Silver Peak Systems is not liable for and will not pay any fees for any candidates submitted to them by any agency other than its approved recruitment partners. Furthermore, any resumes sent to us which can be found using the following Job Boards: CareerBuilder, Craig’s List, DICE, HotJobs, or Monster, or utilizing the following Search Engines: Ask, Google, Vivissimo, or Yahoo will be considered your company’s gift to Silver Peak and may be forwarded to our recruiters for their attention. Thank you.”

    The posting can be found here at their Jobs site:
    http://tinyurl.com/y8hgprl

    It’s a worthy (and timely) discussion.

    Josh: I disagree. The results (and you’ve only seen a smidgeon) speak for themselves. Nice try, though.

  9. Maureen,

    Interesting article. From experience, I use a very indirect approach with a passive candidate. For example my approach sounds like this: “Good Morning, Jim. My name is Jon Shafer and I’m a Recruiter. However,I’m not calling to recruit you. I’ve been told by a mutual friend that you are exceptional at what you do(Don’t pause)and thought you might be able to recommend other outstanding individuals in your field. The position I’m talking about is for a Director of Valuation analysis (Jims’s position is Manager of Valuation Analysis) at a top 10 Accounting firm. The pay is exceptional. It has to be because the responsibilities are significant.” (Now pause)Jim will probably ask what the pay is. If asked about pay, you should say a general numbe like ” Mid six figures.” Then say, “Would you know anyone who would fit this position? Now you see where this could lead. He can either say “I’ll check into it and get back to you.” or “How ’bout me?” or I’m not interested.” Remeber NO is also an answer.

  10. I work with pre-screened candidates frequently, and I “get to the plate” quite often.

    The routes to success in this business are so delightfully varied. This, for me, is half the fun. It’s also why I so prefer “excellence without arrogance” over claims to be the smartest guy in the room. Because, you know, one never is.

    I do my share of C-level recruiting, and I don’t know any A-player at that level who wants to develop a “relationship” wih a recruiter he or she has never heard of on an initial cold call. (If you flatter yourself otherwise, keep at it a few more years.) When I’m recruiting solo, like this morning, I approach prospects about a real job on behalf of a real client that wants to make a real hire right now. If he or she is interested, I screen him or her right then.

    Most people I treat this way seem to appreciate my respect for their time, and the value I place on mine. But, again, maybe that’s just me.

    And thanks, Maureen, for your humorous assumption I know what I’m doing with a cold-call list. Some mornings, like today, it’s amazing how badly I fumble around just getting started. And at the end of every list, there’s always one conversation I hope the prospect forgets before nightfall. So any new idea, on any given day, like yours, today, helps a lot.

  11. Maureen, telephone sourcing and pre-screening are not Recruiting. To Rob Mcintosh’s point, if everyone could easily recruit, then the earnings would be fees of $20k plus per hire, not $70/name here in the U.S. or $5/name to have an outsourced firm do it in India.

    Just because a pre-screened candidate may be hired, does not mean they’re the best candidate. When you speak of results, show us track record of how someone pre-screened using this mechanism has performed.

    Nearly every reader I’ve ever met on ERE is savvy enough to know that passive candidates are not pre-screened. By their very nature of the Talent being passive alone, you can’t inject them into the typical, linear process such as is used for actively-seeking candidates.

    Ultimately, what Recruiters are after is the best talent, not pre-screened talent that would speak to you about an “open position” in the middle of their work day. Top-level Passive Talent is often insulted by such an entry-level approach.

    By virtue of using this approach, you’re only recruiting those individuals that would listen to someone with such a weak approach. Hint: It’s doubtful they’re the creme de la creme that will make the biggest impact for the Client.

    To be forthright, there is legitimate value in name-sourcing. I believe you’re a strong proponent of this value, which is commendable. With more and more candidate information going online each day (as I’ve been saying for years), the % of candidates that are not online are reducing significantly. Assuming 2.5/100 (2.5%) of candidates do not have information that is identifiable online, there is value in being able to identify that 3%. In that way, please do not assume my response as biased – there is true and legitimate economic value in telephone sourcing.

    However, when you step into the realm of recruiting and try to ask Recruiters to pre-screen candidates, your recommendations fly in the face of what the “Best of the Best” Recruiters do. Just suggesting the notion of pre-screening Passive Talent alone shows little to no knowledge of actual recruiting.

    Obviously, you’re not going to agree with me because I’m pointing out the ineptitude of attempting to pre-screen Passive Talent. However, there are others that will read my comment and rethink what you suggest. That’s the point – diversity of thought.

    P.S. My advice to Recruiting professionals is to learn from Recruiting Trainers such as Doug Beabout, Danny Cahill, Peter Lefkowitz, Scott Love, etc. Much of their material is free, and their recommendations are the difference between $5/name, $70/name, and upward of $20,000 for actually recruiting top-level Passive Talent and getting them hired. Play their game to duplicate their success.

  12. Thank you, Maureen. What you say is true: *This is what the company has on its website, but what makes it “hypothetical” is what I added in my posting and was not on the website: a clause saying that LI and FaceBook profiles weren’t acceptable,either.

    This last part caused a great furor, with a number of recruiters expressing a belief that virtually everybody you can find/need to find is on LI or Facebook, so (In their opinions) this last part is unrealistic/unreasonable…

    IMHO, sourcers like you and your team provide the great value in locating the purple squirrels that aren’t on any of these places.

    Cheers,

    Keith

    *“If you represent an agency, please do not submit resumes to any person or any email address at Silver Peak Systems, without a prior written agreement from Staffing. Silver Peak Systems is not liable for and will not pay any fees for any candidates submitted to them by any agency other than its approved recruitment partners. Furthermore, any resumes sent to us which can be found using the following Job Boards: CareerBuilder, Craig’s List, DICE, HotJobs, or Monster, or utilizing the following Search Engines: Ask, Google, Vivissimo, or Yahoo will be considered your company’s gift to Silver Peak and may be forwarded to our recruiters for their attention. Thank you.”

  13. Hi Maureen,
    Do you typically take on project/assignments paid by the hour or paid per name? If you don’t mind sharing this information.
    Thanks.

    Jo-Ann

  14. I absolutely do see, Jon, where that can lead. I love it that you share your script with us – I wish others would do this more.

    I s’pose it really depends on what approach you’re more comfortable with. Me – I’m just more comfortable going right at the subject. Now, that doesn’t say when and if they decline I don’t ask if they’d be willing to help and pass the “opportunity” to others in their network. Few say no to this but I doubt very much if more than a few actually do pass the info along. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised more than once by someone’s promised efforts.

    By the way, Josh, referring to your earlier remark in this string, I like the word “opportunity” because that’s what jobs are and have found those in the know think of them like that as well. And, if they can’t hear the sincerity in your voice in the first few seconds of the call and “trust” you immediately you’re dead in the water anyway. This business isn’t for everyone.

    You also said: “Assuming 2.5/100 (2.5%) of candidates do not have information that is identifiable online, there is value in being able to identify that 3%.” I seldom tell anyone they’re absolutely wrong but you’re absolutely wrong about this. One might more correctly assume less than 10% of all candidates have information identifiable online. That’s closer to the reality meaning 90% of all candidates out there are NOT ONLINE in a manner that identifies them as a potential candidate for a potential position. Let’s not mix things up.

  15. @KELLY (impossible last name)

    Kelly, I don’t think you understand recruiting. It’s not always possible to get a ton of information about someone before you call them.

    When people I call start whining to me about how I didn’t do my homework I ask them how exactly I was supposed to do it?

    First I quiz them to knock them down to size:

    Do you have a blog? No.
    Do you have a Linkedin profile? No.
    A Google profile? No.
    VisualCV? (no) Pardon me? No.

    Well then what am I supposed to do? Hire a private detective or just call you up and have you tell me if you’re a fit?

    That usually knocks some sense into them.

  16. @Josh

    You wrote:
    > Top-level Passive Talent is often insulted by such an entry-level approach.

    That’s not my experience. One example. I recruited a lawyer who was hired as Assistant General Counsel for a large public utility.

    I was doing the search on contract for the exec search dept of a world famous consulting firm.

    I didn’t know anything about the job except what they told me.

    I called a number of people who said that while the job was interesting the money was way too low for them (and it was good money).

    Almost everyone was willing to talk to me and they were all very friendly.

    And I called them all in the middle of the day.

    The guys who freak out when you call them at work and refuse to talk to you during business hours simply seem to be uptight personalities.

  17. Animal – that’s funny and reminds me of when I first started sourcing. The guy who I worked for (Richard Stearns – now deceased, God rest his blessed soul) told me the higher up they were, in general, the more likely they’d be to talk to me.
    Go figger.
    It’s always been my experience that this (mostly) holds true.
    This is a fun discussion.
    Thank you everyone (even you, Josh ;)) for participating!

  18. Good stuff Maureen!

    If you’ve been on the surface of the planet for more than an hour it’s likely you’ve received one of those calls! Certainly the best and most effective technique(s) are a blend of art and science.

    That said, apart from “simple name-gen” the smile and dial is somewhat different from the identification of a “suspect” and determination of their suitability as a “prospect” for whatever assignment / role you’ve been tasked with.

    With regard to the latter, I’ve always favored (required) that it be straight up and honest – from the very first connect to the very last interaction! Having to explain a ruse down the road often leaves the savvy suspect/prospect doubting your personal veracity later – when credibility is most important.

    So, Maureen, thanks for taking the time to provide stimulating stuff. Now on to “Smile and dial”!

  19. IMHO, if you do your homework, are polite, professional, and considerate, you’re doing all that can be reasonably expected. Some people won’t respond and some people will be jerks.

    At the same time, what Josh and other high-level contingency/retained recruiters do can’t be eliminated, automated, or outsourced. They should be paid 30% fees on $100k+ positions, and are well worth it.(BTW, I don’t do this kind of work myself.)

    Josh, you mentioned a possible 2.5% of (potential candidates) who don’t have a web presence that can be used to locate them. I have no idea if this is an accurate guess or not, but I would imagine the number is gradully decreasing. My questions to the group are:
    1) Who are these “purple squirrels” that don’t have a web presence and can’t be found by a $11/hr telephone sourcer?

    2) How do you make a $100k+/yr living off these kinds of “purple squirrel” searches?

    Thanks,

    Keith

  20. Keith,
    There you go again.
    I should have known.
    (I did smell a trap but I threw caution to the wind answering you.)
    WHERE ARE these $11/hour phone sourcers? I’ve asked you half a dozen times to tell me who they are so I can hire them and YOU NEVER ANSWER. I’m IN THE BUSINESS and I never come across them or hear about them from my customers in an attempt to beat down my prices. Point me in their direction – right here – so we can compare apples and apples. I suspect you’re not. I also suspect you won’t answer me, as you haven’t answered my plaintive plea before. I’m not the only one wanting to know, believe me.

  21. @All – sorry for the triple post!

    @Recruiting Animal: My comment was simply intended to relay my reaction to a sample of calls that I personally received as a “passive” candidate. Of course, I realize it isn’t always possible to obtain a full set of information about someone before calling. Regardless of my understanding of recruiting, I’ve never been anything but cordial and professional when I’ve received these calls, even if they were way off target. In fact, I appreciate the opportunity to “meet” these folks and hear about their opportunities, that even if not appropriate for me, might be right for someone in my network. I’m absolutely positive that “whining” has never occurred. Fortunately, so far, I haven’t had anyone quiz me about my online visibility for the purpose of knocking me down to size or knocking some sense into me 🙂

  22. Maureen, you are the best. You are an old fashioned recruiter. I am too. So is every one who works for me. My clients love what I do, and come back for more.

    But, I don’t tell my clients how we source. You put it in words, and you are right on. I recruit at the executive level. I have my own style, but mincing words here is not the point. The point is I go after my target, and use the phone. And, I call over and over and over and over and over and over again.

    I have a new recruiter that just started with me, and I’m going to recommend your course.

    There are recruiters who never pick up the phone to engage passive candidates. When those people read what we as third party recruiters do on a daily basis,they think that it is somewhat unsophisticated.

    Also, the argument over whether candidates should be prescreened or not is not the point. In my office we do it both ways. Sometimes candidates are sourced, and prescreened. Sometimes not. There is no right or wrong way to do it. I have assistants who make the sourcing calls for me, a new recruiter in my office doesn’t need an assistant, he or she is not busy enough.

    In my experience recruiting execs, there has never been a problem if we prescreen. But, my people are very well educated, well trained, and talk to execs for a living. Sourcers are intelligent and sophisticated people.

    One of the problems that we have in the recruiting business is the way that we train. This job is OJT. On the Job Training. So, on any given day, there are a lot of rookies on the phone. Maybe they stumble, maybe they won’t be recruiters next week. It’s the nature of our business, and the way we train. Unfortunately, everyone has bad recruiters stories because of it. But, I was a rookie once too.

    But, anyone who actually makes a living as a third party recruiter knows what they are doing. If not, they starve. The market takes care of all marginal third party recruiters. So, anyone who is making placements is doing it right.

    And, there are only certain personalities that can actually be successful as a third party recruiter. So, recruiters who don’t like what you wrote, or disagree with it, need to work inside a corporation, where sourcing is done differently. There is no right or wrong. There are only results.

  23. @Keith – I’m amazed at the public arrogance of the company that you quoted re: sourcing from publicly accessible databases. I say that puts a great big ol’ recruiting target on everyone of their employees. You can send a thank you note to their VP of Ops and let him know you appreciate his “gifts” 😉

    Jed

  24. Maureen — The timing of this post is perfect given what’s on my plate right now. Points well made and well-taken.

    When someone says, “I’m not looking” or something to this effect, I often ask “What type of opportunity would get you really excited?” Then, “May I call you back when I have this type of opportunity?” This fits into my recruiting philosophy which says that every call is the beginning of a relationship. Every once in a while, this exchange reveals that the job I am representing actually fits the description just given and gives me an opportunity to approach from a different angle. Also, once I’ve invested a few minutes in asking this person what he/she wants, they are generally more engaged in the idea of thinking of referrals.

    It’s amazing how, with all that’s changed in recruiting over the years, there are some classic aspects of the role that remain the same. This post was a good reminder of those basics that build success. Thanks.

  25. Maureen – you and I have clashed on a few thoughts in the past – but you know I love you!

    I must take issue with one thing you seem to hold as gospel – that being that if you have dug up a name via telephone that you feel you have some “secret” person in hand. This is simply not the case. I would venture the vast majority of names are also available via many other approaches. Yes – I love the telephone – but it’s a mistake to think that names gathered that way are of some secret stash.

    That issue aside – I simply can not agree with your approach. Announcing during your first sentence who your client is has got to be one of the fundamental mistakes made by newbies in the recruiting industry. While you may feel it offers some degree of credibility – it is completely the wrong approach.

    A recruiting call is to establish whether the person you are speaking to is in a position to consider professional growth outside of their current situation. Your client’s name means NOTHING in this regard. In fact – being so focused is highly limiting. “Do you want this job” is more or less what you are asking. Wanna buy a chicken?

    So in summary – yes – a passive candidate call is far different from calling an unemployed person whose resume is plastered all over the internet. At the same time though – you needn’t assume you are calling someone who has never received a recruit call.

    Your examples are all VP/Top Management people. Do you REALLY think they have no idea what’s up when you call? Really? If so – I can’t help you……

    Love,
    Jerry

  26. Jerry – thanks for the love. I appreciate it and welcome all I can get.
    😉
    You said:
    “I would venture the vast majority of names are also available via many other approaches.”
    Can you tell us what approaches?

    I don’t think I’ve ever referred to phone sourced names as a “secret stash” but hey! I like the phrase though and think I can roll on something using it! Watch for it.
    😉
    To be real, though, phone sourced names aren’t any “secret” stash. Everybody knows they’re “out there.” It’s just that few have the temerity to go and get them so most of them remain covered. That’s what makes them such a stash!

    Seriously, though, you raise a fascinating discussion – one which I hope others will join in on. DO YOU or DO YOU NOT routinely tell the name of the hiring company to your potential candidates? (We now know your answer Jerry.)

    (You should know, Jerry, on the above example I gave I was asked specifically by the customer to name the company.) Taking this further out – I do not do profiling when I can’t name the company. Most of the work I do are for retained recruiters or the companies themselves – I’m sure this makes a difference in the approach warranted.

    Few contingency recruiters use my services.

    You’re right, you and I have had discussions on this subject more than a couple times – in fact, prompted by one such occassion a couple weeks back I asked related questions over on LinkedIn – and the answers were pretty much yes or no seeming to boil back to if one was working contingency or retained. Both of these questions generated good responses:

    “If a recruiter calls you from “out of the blue” and it happens – you’re not looking for a job at that specific time but the recruiter asks if you might be interested in another job opportunity – are you more likely or less likely to engage with that recruiter if the recruiter is/is not willing to tell you the name of the company that is hiring?” Answers here:
    http://tinyurl.com/yftgfqy

    “How do you approach a “truly” passive candidate?” Answers here: http://tinyurl.com/ykaqz9j

    I hope you’ll all visit the above-mentioned sites and read the comments and then let’s have a discussion on these topics here!

  27. It’s such a lovely discussion!
    Joshua’s harsh comments make Maureen shine even more.

    It’s also a good opportunity to compare actual calls and emails I receive from recruiters and sourcers (as a software developer) with the strategies behind such calls.

  28. Dennis – Lol, your response is priceless! 🙂 Where are these “harsh comments” you describe? Seriously, that’s awesome – lol. You are not a Recruiter, but here is the bottom line: It’s not in a Recruiter’s best interest to recruit passive candidates by naming the Client and pitching a job in the opening ‘script’ of the recruiting call. However, I hope more people do that because it helps the relationship-driven Recruiter recruit Candidates that the Job-Pitchers can’t 🙂

    Let me ask you this: Which of my comments that disagree with this post would you consider “harsh”? What comments of this post “shines”? I’m asking for your approach since you’re not a Recruiter or Sourcer.

    However, if you’re running PostJobFree.com, this is an interesting industry scenario for me – what does a Job Board owner think is the right way to approach passive candidates? Is it the way that I describe or is it the way described in the article? I always love to hear Job Board organizations and employees tell me how to recruit Passive Candidates!

    Do Job Board Owners recommend the true relationship-driven Recruiting approach endorsed by the top Industry Trainers in Recruiting, or do you recommend pitching a job in the first line of the call? Enlighten us with your job board perspective! Hypothetically (in another universe) if you were actually a Recruiter or Sourcer, what approach would you use?

    What approach would a Job Board recommend? Lol 🙂 You have piqued my curiosity! 🙂

  29. Joshua,

    1) I meant “harsh” in relative terms: recruiters tend to be soft-spoken, so when you criticize Maureen for having lack of experience in actual recruiting (as opposing to sourcing), it’s somewhat harsh, even if you praise her sourcing skills.
    Not that I object to such “harsh” approach.

    2) The shining comes from addressing your challenging statements, such as “only 2.5% of candidates do not have information that is identifiable online”.
    On that topic I agree with you that more and more candidates are available online, but I agree with Maureen the number of candidates that are practically not available in online search are much, much greater than 2.5%.
    Anyway, shining comes from discussion with opposing viewpoints. Discussions when everyone agree on the topic are usually dull.

    3) Yes, I run PostJobFree.com, but at that moment it’s more like a hobby, so please take my Job Board Owner viewpoints with a grain of salt (not that you would trust my opinion anyway :-)).
    Obviously job boards primarily target active candidates.
    But passive candidates are affected too if they were active in the past and still have their 1-year old resume posted.
    PostJobFree and most of other job boards accumulate lots of such old resumes which basically work as google-searchable leads for recruiters who target passive candidates.

    Job boards also help increase candidates’ online presence. That in turn helps recruiters to source online and chips market away from telephone sourcers like Maureen (Maureen, I looking for your rebuttal here :-)).

    4) But enough with my hobbyist opinion. How about perspective of software developer contractor on recruiting approach?
    As a potential candidate I receive lots of emails (my email is easily available online) and some phone calls (I don’t keep my phone number published).
    I definitely prefer emails over phone calls, because emails are more precise, much faster to read, less intrusive [into my work day], and more informative.
    I prefer emails with job description included in the first email. I consider emails without specifics a waste of time. For example: “We found your resume online. We have multiple positions available. Please let us know if you are on the market.”

    My ideal incoming email from recruiter:
    – Has job description (possibly very brief) which is relevant to my skills.
    – Has pay range included (it helps to learn about compensations and helps quickly reject opportunities that clearly pay less than I might be interested in).
    – Has no fluff like “we are super-extra-great recruiting agency with many years of experience …”.

    5) It would be interesting to learn why only small part of emails I receive from recruiters is close to my ideal incoming email.

  30. “5) It would be interesting to learn why only small part of emails I receive from recruiters is close to my ideal incoming email”

    Because, like you, I bet, on those rare occasions when you get emails like this (which will always come from newer recruiters), no one responds to them.

    And why would they, considering the sender has given you no reason to and has revealed, with finality, that he or she has no clue he or she is being to sell an opportunity, not desseminate information so recipients can “decide for themselves”. I mean, where’s the fun in that?

  31. Dennis, I have no rebuttal – sure, if people post on job boards they’re more likely to be found but it’s no slam-dunk – I am continuously amused how many people post on LinkedIn w/out completing their profiles. I’ve had occasion where I’ve found people phone sourcing who, it turned out, were also listed on LinkedIn and my customer scratched his head and said, “Hmmmm…I wonder how I missed him” before actually hiring him.

    He missed him because he was using specific qualifiers that the guy possessed but did not have listed and this is one of the problems “finding” people online. How can you find a guy who sells to AT&T (a search I am working on now) within one of the world-class networking companies if the guy doesn’t list himself as doing just that. Sure, he may be an Account Manager but what accounts? So if you’re limiting your search by using “AT&T” in you keywords thinking it’s gonna be just that easy….well, it usually isn’t. Ya’ gotta be able to get on the phone and beat your way past the Gatekeeper into the sales department in order to ferret out WHO is selling to AT&T. It’s no small trick.

    And then you have the customers who don’t want anyone who’s listed online (see Keith’s remarks earlier) and that includes job boards. Now if that ain’t a kick in the butt I don’t know what is but it’s a fact of life recruiters deal with every day. Personally, that’s where I come in…but that’s another story.

    What I found fascinating about what you said is that you want to know salary range upfront. If there’s ONE THING that meets with more contingency recruiter reluctance than disclosing the hiring company’s name it’s recruiter reluctance in disclosing salary range yet you sound very clear that you want to know.

    Here’s a HOT TOPIC for the rest of you. Let’s discuss!

  32. I have read the article and all the feedback with great interests.

    My thoughts are that all sources of finding candidates are needed. I have utilized job boards, social networking sites and cold calling to locate candidates. Initially my company did primarily third party recruiting, but we are now shying away from this and offering more RPO type services to our clients. Even when doing contingency searches, we found cold calling to be more beneficial with overwhelmingly more positive results than utilzing other sources. But as they say “there is time for everything”…and of course when one option does not work…try another.

    In terms of what information, recruiters provide upfront to potential candidates, I totally agree with not disclosing salary up front, nor job description. The first phone call is a time for both the candidate and the recruiter to evaluate each other. It is not a one way event, and providing this information upfront, denies one or both parties from this occurence, as the candidate may make a “premature” decision. While salary is of obvious importance, it should not be a determining point, even if it is a little less. There is so much more to weigh in on…benefits, hours, training, certification, reimbursement, proximity to the job, bonuses, partnership programs, shares etc.

    I also disagree with the statement that only 2.5% of so of candidates are not online. This will of course depend on the industry you may be in, I’m sure. But for a company that cold calls tremendously, about 6 out of 10 of the people we speak with on a daily basis, are not online. I would suspect, that those who believe that small number of 2.5% are not picking up the phone much.

    Just my humble thoughts (smiles).

    Jo-Ann

  33. @Maureen,

    Here are key reasons why I want to know compensation information up front:
    1) Pay range is an easily digestible piece of information.
    2) It helps me quickly disqualify vast majority of openings that are
    heading my way.

    I am already getting paid more than average new opportunity promise.
    If it was not the case — I would pick one of these opportunities long time ago.

    So spending half an hour talking to recruiter and finding out in the end that potential compensation would be lower than I’m making now … looks like waste of time.

    @Ted,

    If I find job description relevant to my skills, but the compensation is too low — I usually reply and explain that.
    But that doesn’t change much — recruiters usually don’t have better paying contracts readily available anyway.

    I’d also like to add here, that when you spend candidate’s time (which it takes to read your email) it’s only fair to share some useful bit of information (about pay range).
    If your play fair — it helps to establish better long-term relationships.

  34. I was pretty shocked by Jerry’s disagreement with revealing the company name as part of the introduction. It seems that a natural part of a professional introduction involves identifying either the name of the client or the name of the search firm and the latter is irrelevant unless it is one of the widely known branded firms. I agree with the purpose of the call that he stated but why on earth would a busy executive take time to share this type of information with a mystery caller. Even if the client’s name is not recognizable, it still lends credibility and professionalism to the call. I guess it’s a different story if the search is confidential — but then I would include the confidential nature of the search as part of the intro and would back this with strong company descriptors.

  35. Donna – the reason I don’t blab my client name is well-founded in the recruiting world. It is a basic principal in my work.

    Many times I have several similar openings. Would you suggest I disclose the names of each company I am recruiting for? Or what about those times when I know a position may be opening – but am not “officially” recruiting for it?

    It is my opinion that recruiters who feel the need to blurt out their client name from the very start are not quite confident in who they are and what they are doing in this world. It is a crutch. The client name is completely irrelevant during the first contact. It offers nothing.

    Weak sales people allow their prospects to take control of the call. Strong sales people manage the flow of discussion.

  36. Jerry — I’ve “seen” you enough around the social media space and read people’s responses to you to know that you are well respected and are excellent at what you do — heck, I even follow you on Twitter. From your last response to me I think I see the disconnect in our perspectives on using the company name in a call. Unless I am making a networking call to someone that could potentially become a candidate somewhere down the road, every call I make to a prospect is on behalf of a retained search client. I am acting as the client’s representative. Certainly, many of those calls turn into business relationships even if the person is not interested in the particular opening — so I don’t doubt my ability to quickly gain credibility and even trust. I do think you have a tougher job as a contingency recruiter in the initial call to a prospect. You are selling yourself as a recruiter much more than a retained recruiter might be. I do value my contingency experience that taught me to make EVERY call count — which come through in your comments. In all fairness to my retained search colleagues, we have a tougher job up front — selling the client. But, that’s a different discussion for another time… I’m sure we’ll bump into each other again…probably disagreeing on something else. Take care.

  37. Thank you for the kind words Donna. In reviewing my response above – I’m glad you didn’t take any of that as being directed to you specifically. (I might have!)

    I’m sure there are quite a few differences beyond just that initial call between our two services. Hopefully – and most likely – we’ll agree on the next topic – whatever that may be!

  38. @Donna – I don’t think disclosing your candidate and/or compensation numbers out in the first line or two of an introductory call has anything to do with the search contract, be it retained or contingency. I can’t imagine any single benefit to doing so, yet the risks are numerous. Our financial contract with our Clients involves simply how we get paid, but has little to do with the delicacy in which we handle a search. I’d even say that the stronger the relationship with the Client, the greater the degree of delicacy, not the other way around. Just my thoughts . . .

    @Dennis – As I understand it, you’re entering the conversation here as a Contract Software Developer and Job-Board “Hobbyist”. The article was written mentioning a CFO-level Candidate, so there are entirely different approaches utilized when we compare your market segment (IT Contracting) to that of the C-level. The IT Contracting space is all about max efficiency and speed-to-candidate. Recruiters will screen you and hang up in 60 seconds if they can – it’s not as much about relationships in the IT Contracting space as it is at the C-level.

    For example, comp at the C-level is decided and agreed upon through a negotiation with the Board of Directors. As much of the comp is non-cash (i.e. stock options, etc.), there isn’t necessarily a “range” and/or an “hourly rate.”

  39. Joshua, are you saying that it makes sense to disclose pay range to IT contractors up front?

    How would you explain then that most IT recruiters don’t do that anyway?

    Could you also share your experience with recruiting passive C-level candidates: what motivates them enter extended talks and negotiations when they don’t really know what to expect from it?

  40. Wow, what an interesting and diverse set of opinions! I guess there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Just speaking from my own experience as a recruiter, if I were attempting to fill a C-level position in the low to mid six-figures, I would approach the process by doing some serious boolean searches, especially on sites of any companies I was trying to lure someone away from. There would also be the obligatory searches on Linkedin and Facebook, VisualCV, etc. If nothing else, I’d try to just find someone in the company to start with.

    I learned a long time ago to never burn any bridges. I’ve been a C-level executive, and I always took calls from recruiters/sourcers. You never know when your personal or professional situation will change, so I always let them know that I’m not interested now but to feel free to contact me if other opportunities arise. I don’t know of any C-level folks who are 100% happy with every facet of their position. Maybe they have a difficult board of directors, don’t agree with the direction the company is going, don’t quite fit the culture, etc.

    Personally, my desires were geographically driven and I wasn’t interested in taking any cuts in pay, even though I had an extremely long commute every day. Most C-level folks got where they are by assessing their situations, keeping their options open, making good choices along the way, thinking strategically when it comes to their career, and have a pretty good idea where they want to be.

    Being recruited is sort of like the lottery. At the top of the food chain, your total compensation is not very easy for anyone to know with any certainty. You could be making $200k and someone may be calling you with a $2M a year position. Like they say in the lottery, “You never know”. It always pays to be kind and receptive to calls from recruiters, and it also gives you an opportunity to help those you know that might be a good fit. You don’t want to sabotage your own company, but perhaps you have an executive that you know needs to move closer to a certain part of the country to be close to an ill relative. Or, you happen to know that their position will be going away at the end of the year. So, I say to sourcers, recruiters, and any passive candidates who may be reading these diverse responses…be honest, be quick, be candid, ask for other names if they aren’t interested, never piss off the receptionist/executive assistant, and don’t take rejection personally. Anyone who gets hot and bothered and wants to know how you got their number and name or tells you not to contact any other people in their business has their own issues to deal with and you can’t fix them.

    I don’t know if my comments add anything to this discussion. I can only talk from my experiences. I do agree with the comment regarding how you treat passive candidates once they indicate any level of interest. Don’t “screen” them like some rookie HR person looking for a reason not to consider them any further, after all, as was pointed out, you contacted them. Ask if you can send them a copy of the job description and they will contact you if they’re interested or pass along the names of others who might fit the requirements. Be respectful of their time, as more often than not they’re working long hours as it is.

    Best of luck,
    Vic Mangino
    reminis.com

  41. @Vic – Thank you for injecting the C-level candidate’s perspective into this conversation. This is the angle many of us don’t get to see and/or forget about – all too often, our industry focuses on their own KPIs’ and objectives, thereby not always looking through the eyes of the candidate.

    Recruiters (those that don’t focus on recruiting contract talent) involved and/or reading the comments and discussion here would be well-served to appreciate your point of view —

    “I can only talk from my experiences. I do agree with the comment regarding how you treat passive candidates once they indicate any level of interest. Don’t “screen” them like some rookie HR person looking for a reason not to consider them any further, after all, as was pointed out, you contacted them.”

    @Dennis – your question regarding how to negotiate compensation with CFO-type candidates is beyond the scope of this conversation. Email me directly and we can set up a time to discuss the multiple variables, including Board involvement, potential contract duration, contract clauses (protection), vesting criteria, milestones (i.e. compensation based on liquidity events, etc.), cash and non-cash compensation, etc. C-level pay is often an intense negotiation with the Board and there is no “hourly rate” as there is in the IT Contracting space.

  42. Dennis, you asked (Josh):
    “Could you also share your experience with recruiting passive C-level candidates: what motivates them enter extended talks and negotiations when they don’t really know what to expect from it?”

    This may be a far-more complicated subject than what I am about to say here but one thing I believe motivates C-levels (and many others, I suppose) to enter “extended talks and negotiations” is information. I believe the more you can provide early on in the process enhances the chances of that person engaging with you.

    Now I understand people “learn” in different ways and some people may not need as much information as others to stop, listen and have their curiosity picqued enough to want to engage further. That’s why I don’t believe any “one” form fits this early process – it’s like being tone deaf to say, “You shouldn’t do this” or “you shouldn’t do that” or “You should do this…ALWAYS.” You, the recruiter, must be able to assess, quickly, the receptivity of the person you’re calling and be able to adjust to that person’s engagement needs. This is where the art of this business trumps the science, and, I suspect, where many fall by the wayside.

  43. I’m sorry Maureen. Your phone sourcing/name gathering expertise is a force to be reckoned with. I know of no one who would dispute that.

    The topic here is not name generation. From my understanding it is – how do you take the next step.

    The next step is what we like to call “RECRUITING”. That is where the “sourcing” skills need to be put on the shelf. Sourcing is not selling. It is – in most cases – a very specific recon mission. You are not establishing a relationship – you are not building long-term credibility – and you are not investigating that person’s personal and professional situation.

    What I find troubling (difficult – if you will) is being engaged in a discussion about specific recruiting approaches with a non-recruiter. It would like me having a debate with an accountant on best practices. (I’m not an accountant.)

    Submitted with nothing but professional love in my heart,
    Jerry

  44. Wow, lots of good information. Personally as a TPR – contingency I have to put in my 2 cents.
    1) With new contacts we don’t give the name of the company until mutual interest has been established – Why? – Candidates WILL go around you and use your information to submit themselves and cut us out of the deal. As Jerry stated, we also have multiple clients with similar needs.
    2) For those who actually believe that more than 25-30% of professionals are “on the internet” are living in dreamland and are probably not using the phone correctly to get to those who don’t have the time or inclination to “put themselves out there”. You develop relationships on the phone, you get referrals from those with whom you have a relationship with and have developed a level of trust over time.
    3) In EVERY call you are dealing with an individual, the “script” should have gone by the wayside with your training manual. I start by thanking them for taking my call, I introduce myself and tell them how I got their information, (they are alsways curious) and that I am networking with individuals that work in my industry specialty and ask if they have a moment to talk now or if should I call back at a better time (knowing that their time is also important).
    4) The higher up you go on the org chart the easier it is to speak with those individuals. They didn’t get there by not looking at alternatives and having a open mind to new ideas.

    For those that have been successful in recruiting, you know that this is a multifaceted job: detective, information generation, sales, counselor, confidant, and much more.

    Thanks for the kick, gotta go, calls to make!

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