obsess so much over the science of recruitingthe where to lookthat we
tend to ignore the true art of the business, the how to ask. These days, it
seems weve all turned into info-junkies, addicted to databases, directories and
Which is fine. Candidates dont fall out of the sky,
they have to be found. And given the Internets exotic allure of an unlimited supply
of highly skilled candidates, what recruiter wouldnt be tempted to compile a list of
100 names before even having to pick up the phone?
Unfortunately, the mountain of evidence approach to
recruiting threatens to become an end unto itself, as we increasingly rely on raw data,
rather than strong relationships as the best source of qualified candidates.
Todays recruiter frequently squanders resources already available by failing to
leverage relationships into referrals.
Go Right to the Source
To find qualified candidates, Ive found that its far more efficient to
daisy-chain through a series of recommendations than it is to cold-call a widely scattered
collection of prospects. Or, to use a football analogy, youre more likely to score a
touchdown from a sustained drive than to run a post pattern on every play.
For example, many candidates can be found simply by taking
the time to ask the employer for referrals. By deposing the decision maker before
the search begins, you can eliminate many hours of unnecessary research and data
collection. Here are some simple questions to ask as you write your next search
Mr. Employer, is there anyone youve
interviewed in the past that might develop into a candidate for this job or into a source
Have you met anyone in the last year or so (at a
trade show, industry meeting, etc.) that might be able to help me in the search?
Can you tell me where the people on your staff
worked prior to coming to work for you?
With your permission, may I speak with them, to
see if they have any contacts at their old companies that I might call?
Its also advisable to ask the employer for the names
of any candidates that have already been interviewed or are known to be unsuitable. That
way, youll save time and eliminate the risk of embarrassing yourself by presenting
duplicate or unwanted candidates.
Your Presentation is Everything
Im often asked how to increase the number of referrals you can get from a cold
recruiting call. The answer is threefold:
1. Build credibility. Demonstrate that you understand the
job market, your capabilities and the candidates everyday world. If youre new
to recruiting, nothing will establish your credibility more quickly than expressing your
sincere desire to learn.
2. Reciprocate. Be as helpful as you can to everyone you
talk to. As an expert in your market, you have a lot of knowledge to share in terms of
career management, salary guidelines and industry trends.
3. Strengthen your presentation. Most recruiters do such a
poor job of presenting themselves to candidates that they end up building a barrier,
instead of a bridge.
In a first-call situation, you have very little time to
connect with another person, so your recruiting script has to quickly
stimulate interest in order for a dialogue to develop. A classified ad script (as
in, My client is a Fortune 500 company, looking for a degreed engineer with three
years experience in automotive gears, knowledgeable in CAD/CAM, blah, blah, blah...) is almost guaranteed to put the candidate to sleep, and will probably stereotype
you as a mere telemarketer.
In contrast, by using a technique called storyboarding,
youll connect more quickly with candidates and dramatically increase the number of
referrals you receive. Storyboarding sets the table for dialogue by incorporating the
element of drama into your presentation. Once youd piqued the
candidates interest, the two of you are more likely to engage in conversation, and
the candidate will more freely exchange ideas and provide you with referrals.
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