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Dialing Into Success: Using the Phone to Win

by
Bret Pyle
May 7, 2008

Most thoughtful and intelligent recruiters will tell you that in order to be a good recruiter, you have to be good at sales, to be willing to take chances, and to have the ability to build networks through referrals. All of these are true.

However, one thing often overlooked in this day and age of the Web, virtual worlds, chat, IM, and email is relationships. There is an absence of one-on-one exchanges of information and true conversations.

As a recruiter, you can become too dependent on email and technology, which is a dangerous course to take. You should not underestimate the power of a one-on-one conversation. Candidates can’t truly determine your level of confidence over email, and you can’t properly portray your tone or easily reassure someone that you’ve “got what it takes” to find them a new career.

Do not use technology to build your relationships; use technology to make connections.

In fact, do yourself a favor this week?put down your mouse and pick up the phone! You’ll find that your output to success rate will climb by getting off email and getting back to live conversations.

I’ve talked with recruiters in the past 30 days who do everything they can to avoid calling candidates directly. They tell me that they don’t have the time or that email is more efficient. In reality, they are afraid. Afraid of taking a chance, making a mistake, taking the risk. And they are simply not prepared.

Recruiters have to realize that if they approach a candidate with professionalism and with something of benefit (a new career, an opportunity to grow, a better work/life balance), the candidate will not bite their head off. We must stop being afraid.

Prepare for the call and pick up the phone. No method to becoming a best-in-class recruiter is more effective than picking up the phone, making the call, and taking the chance.

Look at your current organization. Identify the top performers. I bet you will find one common theme: they are building relationships. They are always on the phone. They use technology as a tool, not as their primary method of correspondence.

Again, technology can help you make the connection so you can build the relationship; it won’t build the relationship for you.

No amount of slick or well-rehearsed conversation can buy you trust. It must be earned (by you) over time. Here are four simple but often overlooked things that you can do to earn someone’s trust and build lasting relationships over time:

  1. Be confident but not overbearing. It’s important to portray confidence in yourself, your opportunity, and your recruiting abilities when speaking with a candidate. How many times have we talked with someone who came across as arrogant? Maybe a salesperson at your local mall or the car dealership? You need to know the difference between confidence and arrogance and how people perceive you. Remember this simple fact: perception is reality.
  2. Be professional. That sounds simple, right? It’s not simple for everyone. Remember, don’t get off-topic, and stay focused when speaking with your candidates. Don’t make the call until you are prepared. And don’t make things up. It’s ok to say, “I’m not sure. Let me get back to you on that.”
  3. Follow through. Show the same commitment level as your candidate. Do not expect them to be fully committed if you are not. If you tell them you’re going to call them back, call them back. If they interview with one of your clients and are not selected for the position, don’t tell them via email! Pick up the phone and have an honest, transparent conversation about why they were not selected. Also, proactively reach out to your candidate to check in, to let them know that you are still actively looking for work for them, and that they have not been forgotten.
  4. Create surprise. Today customer service is about self-service, fast “checkout,” and cost-cutting. Make yourself stand out from the crowd. What separates you from other recruiters? When is the last time you met with a candidate in person? When is the last time you sent a candidate a hand-written congratulations card or flowers when they received the offer from your client? When is the last time you took one of your candidates to lunch or to coffee? Do simple things to surprise them; it doesn’t take a lot of effort to really make yourself stand out!

One missed conversation, one missed message, one missed opportunity to be different all means one missed relationship. Recruiting has become overly complicated. We must stop and take stock of what really matters and what sets us apart from the masses. It will always boil down to your ability to build lasting relationships with your clients and candidates.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Jerry Davis

    I agree with the writer on every point. Direct, interactive communication is the most powerful method we have to connect with anyone, whether a client or candidate. It is riskier, because it is fully interactive, but our clients and candidates know that already. They appreciate us when we answer questions on the spot, and they make choices based on our presence and demeanor.

    Using the phone can be intimidating, but only for the first few seconds. After we get our lips moving and into our groove, our afterburners kick in and we are ‘in the show’.

    I pick up four or five new clients each week, just by making phone calls. There is NO WAY I could do that via e-mail, and my calls rarely exceed three or four minutes. Just know what you are going to say, and stick to that. Focus, as the writer mentioned, is a key.

  2. Howard Adamsky

    Imagine that; recruiters picking up the phone, making connections and forming relationships. What a new and creative idea. People connecting and having real conversations.

    Wonderful article and nary a word on the wonder of social networks or IM?s. I love this guy.

  3. Charles Warloe

    Bret,

    Oustanding! This is great stuff, even better that it’s not just stuff you’ve heard the Senior VP say, but you’ve actually ‘walked the talk’ as a recruiter and consistently given your recruiters the freedom (and the challenge) to do the same.

    Keep up the good work? looking forward to your next blog entry.

    Charles

  4. Sue Danbom

    I see the same thing you do, Bret. Recruiters afraid to pick up the phone.

    Truer words were never spoken…

    ‘Technology can help you make the connection so you can build the relationship; it won’t build the relationship for you.’

    Will you please pick upthe phone?

  5. Ginnie Bellville

    What a great article, Bret Pyle, to remind us of Using the Phone to Win! I especially like your words of wisdom, ‘…technology can help you make the connection so you can build the relationship; it won’t build the relationship for you.’ Truer words were never spoken; I’d like to design a ‘refrigerator magnet’ with this quote! Better yet – I’m going to put a post-it note up on my PC (and my phone) right now! THANKS!

  6. Cecile Moseley

    It is about time someone emphasized the necessity of person-to-person contact in the recruiting industry! Yes Bret, so many in this business are afraid to pick up the telephone for fear of that one word – REJECTION!! I have found that in this business, if you are honest and up front with people it is not a task but a pleasure and you do build lasting relationships. People – pick up that phone and earn the trust of your candidates!

  7. Viktor Soroka

    Funny… most of us know all these rules, but only few of us using it?s in ours every day work. Thanks for good article.

  8. Gillian O'Shea

    Thanks for the article Bret you are so right and its the same everywhere. I like your thinking on using technology as a tool, not as a primary method of correspondence. I guess distance, travel and time and performance pressure are constraints that add to this issue.

  9. Drew Hetherington

    Hi Bret….I just got a chance to read your article on “Dialing into Success”. Great Stuff…..we’re taught to do these things early on in our recruiting careers, but as the old saying goes, it was working so well for me, I stopped doing it. Sometimes being a rookie, or green in this business is a good thing….lol.

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