Cold Calling From Scratch
So you like the idea of finding the candidate you need through cold calling — but what happens when you don’t have a starting point for your cold call?
Let’s say that you’re recruiting for a job within an industry or location that isn’t familiar to you. In this situation, you’re competing against other recruiters that have an advantage. They know the job, the industry, the location and the people. What can you do when you’re at this kind of disadvantage to give yourself a running chance? Cold call. Even with all of this information, your competition is less likely to use the cold call to source.
Where do I start?
As always, research is the starting point for any cold calling expedition.
LinkedIn is a great source of information and can help you identify some targets. Begin by searching for companies within a 50 mile radius of where your client is located. You can sort by industry and even company size if those are important factors in your particular search. Using these filters may exclude some improperly categorized (but usable) results, so your mileage may vary. Experiment with different variables to see if it nets any different results. Of course, don’t just rely upon LinkedIn. Spoke, ZoomInfo, Manta and other information aggregates are also rich sources of information. In addition, you can research potential target companies through local business directories such as offered through a local Chamber of Commerce chapter.
In addition to researching companies, you can research potential groups or organizations that may help lead you to your candidate. This approach is a bit more complex and long term and probably best suited for developing a talent pool, not a quick hire. If you decide to join a group or organization, don’t be the pink elephant in the room. Participate and engage with the members and stick to the content of the group. Establish trust and get to know the group members before plowing into your sales pitch that they aren’t ready to hear.
Remember, recruiting isn’t just a strategy, it’s an art. You must have strong social ability, strong search ability and strong sensibility – or this will just be a miserable waste of time. However, if you cultivate your groups and relationships properly, they can be a valuable source of talent.
Ok, I’ve done my research. What’s next?
Repeat step 1. Use LinkedIn to search for employees within the companies you are targeting. If you have an upgraded account and can use the full messaging capabilities on LinkedIn then don’t filter your search. This will allow you to contact members that otherwise might be private. Really, though, this search is only to help you identify names so that you can contact them by phone. The lazy recruiter will only email the candidate through whichever portal they locate them – often not following up by phone. Mistake! If you prefer to passively contact the candidate first, you must still follow up by actively contacting them. When you call follow up by phone, they will usually remember your contact email rendering you no longer a stranger. If you are afraid of rejection or have trouble “thinking on your feet,” I’d recommend a passive strategy such as this.
So now that you have some names, it’s time to pick up the phone. Although you’re still not sure if these names are viable candidates, so what do you say to them when you call?
Here’s one potential scenario:
You’re calling Bob at XYZ Company who works within the department you want to reach but you’re not sure of his exact title. The conversation might go something like, “Hey, Bob – my name is Joe with Staffing Stars and I wondered if you might be able to help me.”
Typically, anytime you ask for someone’s help, they’ll respond positively. If they don’t, move on to the next potential contact. It’s human nature to want to help people although not everyone you’ll encounter on the phone will be human.
So Bob responds, “I’ll give it my best try. What can I do for you?”
You continue, “I’m currently working with a client on a great opportunity and I’m looking for just the right person. I thought perhaps if I told you about the opportunity, you might know someone to refer or pass it on to. Is now a good time to talk?”
Bob might say yes, in which case you begin talking about the opportunity and what you’re looking for. Keep it brief and to the point; remember that you’re calling someone at work. If Bob says no, ask him if you can contact him after hours at a better number. Whichever way it goes, this may result in a few potential outcomes:
Sometimes, this results in Bob saying “I don’t like headhunters. Don’t call me anymore.”
Sometimes, this results in Bob saying “I don’t know anyone.”
Sometimes, this results in Bob saying, “I can’t think of anyone off of the top of my head, but send me your contact information and if I think of anyone I’ll send it along.” What this means is that Bob either really doesn’t know anyone, or Bob wants to talk to you more about the job but his boss is just 10 feet away.
Sometimes, this results in Bob being the right candidate.
No matter the outcome, thank Bob for his time and be courteous. Be prepared for questions, too.
The important thing to remember about cold calls is you will get shot down.
You will get lots of questions, you will encounter hostility, you will encounter people that are unqualified that think they are qualified, you will encounter tattle tales and you will encounter some very helpful people. Keep the end goal in sight and be confident in your approach. Confidence and knowledge are the two key elements to a successful cold call.