Seduce Your Candidate Over the Phone

Last week I said it was simply dumb not to use the phone to approach top talent. That post hit a nerve, got 5,000 hits in the first 24 hours of publication, and countless social shares.

But the question arises. What about the call itself? What do we say? What are we trying to achieve?

The first step is to understand that in 95% of cases you have identified a great person who is not overtly looking for a job. They are not necessarily thinking about moving. They are focused on the work they are doing now. Your call has not been invited. You must factor in this critical psychology.

So, for you to blunder in and aggressively tout, “I have got a great job for you,” will likely be unproductive and damaging to your reputation.

So here is the thing so few understand: When you phone source a passive candidate, you are not selling a job at all. Oh yes, you will have a job in mind, but that’s not where you start.

No, this call is a seduction. It’s the start of a romance.

It’s a subtle sell at most. You are stalking a flighty prey, which may bolt at any aggressive move.

Think about the call this way:

Be clear on your desired outcome. You will have researched the candidate, know her background, made some informed assumptions about the sort of role that may suit her. You will have identified an actual role, and know how its benefits will likely suit her. If you are super switched-on you may even have researched her on Crystal.

You are not selling a job. Not right now, anyway. This is the key. Don’t leap into a conversation about a job. She is not looking for a job, remember? You mention job, she says, “not looking,” then, where do you go from there?

Sell the discussion. This is the seduction. Instead of, “I have a got a great job for you,” try something like this:

Mary, your name has been mentioned to me several times as a highly regarded property lawyer. I have researched your background, and I see you have been at ABC Partners for 5 years. What you may not realize is that the market has shifted a great deal in that time. Salaries have risen, firms have merged, international players have moved in. So, I am calling you today to see when we can set up a time to have a confidential discussion about your options and your future career.

Did you get that everyone? Let me repeat the key phrase:

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I wish to set up a time to discuss your career.

You are simply selling why they should set aside time to talk to you. They may not be looking for a job, but who is not interested in their career? Their future prospects? Their market value? She can still say no, but it’s far less likely. This call and this question is not threatening. It makes sense. It’s potentially appealing — to her.

It’s a career discussion. That’s what you are offering. It’s a seduction.

Set that time: It could be now, but it’s probably later. If she says, “I can talk now,” well, in you dive. If she says, “Actually I was thinking of moving, do you have any great jobs?” wham, bam, away you go! But until then, easy does it tiger!

Most likely, she will agree to speak after work, or call you back at lunchtime, or have a coffee with you next Tuesday. No matter, any one of those outcomes is a top result! This is a unique’candidate. She is not applying to your job board advert. She is not approaching clients directly. She is not ‘available’ to other recruiters, unless they take proactive smart action like you.

Remember phone sourcing is not a hard sell. It’s a seduction. A romance. You are not selling a job (necessarily). You are selling the need for them to discuss their career!

So, pucker up baby. The romance has begun!

Note: This post originally appeared on The Savage Truth.

Over a career spanning 30 years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

After graduating with Honours in Psychology, Greg started his career in Executive Search in Australia, before he went on to manage the London office of the United Kingdom’s largest accounting recruiter for two years. In the early 1980s he returned to Australia to run the Sydney office of Accountancy Placements (now the Hays Group), where he was invited to join the Board of Directors at age 27.

Greg founded Recruitment Solutions in 1987, and rapidly built the start-up across Australia and New Zealand, culminating in eight offices, 200 staff, and annual sales of $60,000,000. Such was Recruitment Solutions’ success that, in July 1998, the company was successfully listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, with Greg at its helm as both Executive Director and COO.

April 2001, Greg joined Aquent as Asia-Pacific CEO. In 2005, he was promoted to Aquent International CEO, and assumed responsibility for all Aquent businesses outside of North America.

In 2010 Greg acquired the Permanent and Search business of Aquent in Europe, Asia and Australasia, via a management buy-out, and founded Firebrand Talent Search. He quickly created a global brand for this specialist Digital and Marketing recruiter, and successfully sold the business, in 7 countries, in January 2013

In recognition of his contribution to the Australian recruitment industry, Greg was made an Honorary Life Member of the Recruitment and Consulting Services Association (RCSA) in 2004.  He was subsequently elevated to Fellow (FRCA). In addition Greg was the inaugural winner of the highly prestigious RCSA “Outstanding Contribution to the Recruitment Industry” Award 2011.

Greg now provides consulting, advisory and training services to recruitment, professional services and social media companies across the world. Subscribe to his blog, The Savage Truth.


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