Get to Know Potential Employees … on a Telephone

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 10.51.27 AMI am sure all of us have heard a derivation of this line in the last six months: “There is a war on talent, so we need to be prepared.” Whether you are an agency recruiter or a corporate one, it seems like this has been the mantra of late. 

Those of us who have been doing this for a while know this happens in cycles. Now it’s the war on talent. The next cycle will involve having great candidates but not having anywhere to put them. Being on the corporate side with an established brand definitely helps, but your brand alone is not going to close a candidate on your opportunity.

Now more than ever, you need to know your business units inside and out. The days of posting your job to attract talent are all but over (save for good SEO to your company website, but that is not even enough these days) and even some of the “new job boards” are being overrun. The challenge is to get prospects to call you back so you can at least give them the value proposition of the job you think they’ll fit.

The answer is fairly simple and twofold.

First, get back to basics and get a solid pitch for each of your jobs. As recruiters, we are always talking to people to expand our network, but if you are looking for a job, what do you want to hear from the other side of the phone? What are some of the innovative things your business unit/client is working on? What is going to be “sexy” to the developer you want to attract who’s passionate about technology?

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It’s like buying a house. You can look at pictures online all day, but when you look at a fully staged house online, you can see yourself there. It is the same concept when talking to candidates about opportunities. They are getting tons of calls, but the recruiter who can make them picture themselves in the job will get their attention. We all know that clients (internal and external) take very few seconds to look at your resume to determine fit. It’s no different for a pitch.

Second and probably most important, get on the phone and make the calls. Sure, everyone wants things in an e-mail. Set yourself apart. Leave someone a quick message and then follow-up with the e-mail. Your competitors aren’t doing that. It makes the attempt to connect with the potential candidate a little more personal, which may tip the scales in your favor when that Java developer is trying to decide which of the 50 voicemails from agencies he/she is going to return.

Us “old school recruiters” need to remember what we did years ago that made us successful. Get to actually know your clients, get on the phone and talk to the people you are trying to recruit, and make the connection. If you are new to recruiting or have only been around for a few years, take one of your senior-level top producers out for lunch or coffee, and ask them how they became successful in this business.

Kevin Dunn is a senior talent acquisition specialist at PayPal. He also has over 15 years in the staffing business at large agencies (Robert Half International, Spherion (Mergis) and Ajilon) as well as local firms in the Baltimore area (Clovis (Eliassen) and CPSI) on contingency/retained and staff augmentation searches.

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4 Comments on “Get to Know Potential Employees … on a Telephone

  1. Great article. In an age of email and technology, I believe people still want to do business with people….its all about making the connection.

  2. I’ve read recently it takes FIVE VOICEMAILS to get someone to return your phone call.

    Are you leaving FIVE VOICEMAILS?

    I bet not.

    I’m not but here’s what I’m leaving:

    ?”Hi, _______ this is Maureen Sharib. I’m calling you at 10:30AM your time on Thursday, March 12, and I’ll be here today until 4 – my number is 513-646-7306 and if I don’t hear from you today – no problem – I’ll call you back tomorrow. Again, my name is Maureen Sharib and my number is 513 646 7306.”

    ?Telling them I’ll call back tomorrow sometimes (seems) to prompt them to call me back then and there – since (I think) they think I’ll be calling them again anyway!

    I’m a phone sourcer – please don’t mix me up with the results you’re getting these days with Internet search! I don’t leave a lot of Voice Mails except when I’m doing that first-touch candidate development part of our work – if you need phone sourcing – the great, old-fashioned headhunting stuff – or candidate development – give me a call!

  3. Both phone and email are necessary, getting to know your people also means getting to know which avenue they prefer. I have worked with some people who are almost all email, others act as if it doesn’t exist and the phone is the only means of communication other than a face to face meeting.

    As for what I want to hear, if you’re calling me, I want to know the location and the salary range first and foremost. And, per almost every single conversation I’ve had with people, that’s what they want to hear too, and I’ve had way, way too many recruiters waste my time with pathetically low paying jobs that turn out to be in different states, I’m not giving up any of my meager vacation time to go and interview for a position that pays less than half of what I’m making now. Sexy and innovative is nice, but both are a distant second and third to: will your job allow me to pay my bills, or does taking it require me to get a roommate and start living like a college kid again? Having dated a couple of real estate sales people so far in my life, I can tell you it doesn’t matter how well staged a house is, the price is the determining factor, and after that it’s whether or not they can ‘see’ themselves there. They’re only pre approved for so much. Nor can the staging hide the fact that the place was flooded during the last hurricane, and they will check for damage and likely find some, so if you’re not willing to lower the price, bye bye buyer.

    Reluctance to call is definitely a factor people need to overcome, but it’s not the primary problem at the root of recruiting difficulties.

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