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The Recruiter's Digest
 Recruiting News, Training & Commentary by Bill Radin

March, 2005

Your Recruiting Script: One Size Fits All?

Many recruiters use the same cold-call recruiting script, regardless of the situation. This could be a mistake, especially when dealing with passive candidates who don't know you, don't know your company or don't have the patience to listen to another cookie-cutter sales pitch.

While there's no way to predict whether a prospective candidate might be interested in your job opening, there's a simple way to improve your chances of success.

Before you pick up the phone, try to understand the nature of your candidate population and adjust your script accordingly. If your candidates are skill-centric (that is, their skills are commoditized or in demand by many different employers), you might want to approach them with the "agent" script, as in:

"Hi, Ed. My name is Bill Radin, and I'm a recruiter specializing in the IT market. I'd like to learn about your background and what you might be looking for in your next position, so if the perfect job comes along, I can act as your agent and give you a call. Is this a good time to talk?"

Many recruiters who place accountants, nurses, paralegals, loan officers and niche positions in technology or IT (to name just a few job titles) have found that it's more efficient to stockpile like-kind, in-demand candidates for future distribution than it is to write job orders and then look for qualified people. On the other hand, if your candidates are market-centric, their value is based on their knowledge of a specific industry. I've found that market-centric candidates usually respond more favorably to the "job opening" script, as in:

"Hi, Susan, this is Bill Radin, and I'm a recruiter specializing in the construction industry. An incredible project management opportunity just opened up, and I wanted to tell you about it. Is this a good time to talk?"

See the difference? Skill-centric candidates often view recruiters as their agents, and as such, prefer the "put-me-in-your-database-and-call-me-when-you-have-something" approach, as opposed to the "tell-me-about-the-job-now" script that's generally preferred by market-centric candidates. In either case, your objectives are the same:

  • Build a relationship with the candidate over a period of time and stay in touch;

  • Alert the candidate whenever a suitable job opportunity becomes available; and

  • Ask the candidate for referrals to fill jobs or grow your network.

More often than not, your script's success depends on how well it's matched with the candidate's self-image, not necessarily how beautifully it's crafted or delivered. The more you understand your target population, the more you'll know which approach works best for you.


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