6 min read

Recruiter Call Planning, The REAL Key to Enaging Candidates

There has been a great debate whether or not cold calling candidates remains relevant in professional recruiting.  Perhaps you have seen the articles on Google and LinkedIn that read “Cold Calling is Dead.” The so-called “experts'recruiter call planning the real key to engaging candidates and “gurus” say that recruiters should never make cold calls because candidates despise receiving them. They go on to say that cold calling no longer works and that it’s not a productive use of time.  

Let’s acknowledge the fact that we as professional recruiters often like to “just show up” without doing any preparation for the call.  Let’s also acknowledge that in most cases we as recruiters consider introductory candidate calls as an “all or nothing” proposition.  Our mindset and subsequent behavior is we pitch our job opportunity and either the candidate wants to talk and learn more or they’re out.    The problem, however, is, take this approach and you lose more than your share of candidates that you could have easily placed.  

To be clear, recruiters shouldn’t be blindly picking up the phone and randomly calling candidates without any knowledge of the candidate or their background, skills or work experience.  The real reason why many recruiters (and recruiting managers) feel “cold calling is dead” is because recruiters simply don’t take enough time to prepare or have not received proper recruiter training to prepare for their candidate calls.  Surgeons don’t go into surgery without a plan, and pilots don’t take flight without first completing a flight plan. It stands to reason that first and foremost, recruiters must be trained to prepare for their candidate calls before they make them.

Recruiter Call Planning The REAL KEY to Engaging Candidates
As a recruiter, there are many things that are not 100% within your control. For example, you can’t control your clients nor can you control your candidates. You can’t exert 100% control over the outcome of a candidate call or a candidate interview.  But there is good news! You can exert 100% control over exactly which candidates you call and what it is you will say and ask of your candidates on those calls. Specifically, you can prepare ahead of time exactly what message it is you want to get across to your candidate. You can prepare in advance what the objective of your candidate call is and how you will handle objections and frequently asked questions.

If your goal is to increase candidate submittals, you need to create recruiter call plans. If your goal is to schedule more candidate interviews, you need to create recruiter call plans.  If your goal is to increase placements, then you need to create recruiter call plans.  The key to improving your recruiter results and your recruiting effectiveness starts with completing call plans. 

From the Menemsha Group recruiter training program, I share with you a few of the key components that make up a recruiter call plan.  All recruiters should be creating call plans that account for the following:

Call Objective
As a general rule, you should have three objectives for the introductory candidate call. Your first objective, especially when contacting a candidate for the very first time, is to disarm the candidate. Disarming means to put the candidate at ease so they feel comfortable speaking with you and answering your questions. 

For most recruiters however, their objective of the introductory candidate call is to get the candidate's resume, schedule an interview, complete the interview and/or submit the candidate to the client.  None of those can be realized until the recruiter first disarms his or her candidate.  Effectively disarming your candidates is also the key to achieving your second and third call objective. 

The second call objective centers around what information you need to uncover about your candidate.  In many ways, professional recruiting is like doing investigative reporting.  You have to continuously collect information about your candidate in order to make intelligent decisions regarding their candidacy for hire and how to intelligently position them with your clients. But your candidates won’t answer your questions until you first disarm them.  

For example, maybe after reviewing your notes you realized your candidate gave vague answers to some of your questions regarding pay rate expectations or availability. For your follow up call, your call objective might be to validate or clarify candidate availability or qualify pay rate expectations.  Regardless of where you and your candidate reside in the overall recruitment process, there will ALWAYS be more information you can and should be collecting from your candidate.   

Your third call objective should focus on what action you need your candidate to commit to and complete next.  The key to a good call objective is whether or not the objective advances the candidate forward the interview and hiring process

For example, you might need the candidate to send their resume, provide you with references, sign an NDA, or commit to a specific date and time for the next interview.  The point is, you should always have a call objective that advances candidates forward within the interview and hiring process. This prevents delays and keeps the process moving forward. Your goal should always be to move one step closer to a placement. They key of course is getting the candidate to commit to taking action. 

If you're a recruiter making candidate calls without a call objective, especially objectives that require to the candidate to take action, you're keeping yourself busy but you're not being productive

Keep in mind that your call objectives should always be relevant and directly correlated to where you and your candidate reside in the overall recruitment process.  For example, if you’re cold calling a candidate for the very first time, your call objective shouldn’t be to complete the candidate interview or get a candidate submittal. While these would certainly be the best possible outcomes, they’re also not realistic expectations. A more realistic call objective might be to disarm the candidate so that the candidate feels comfortable in sharing key information with you such as whether or not they are actively or passively looking for work and if they are open to working with a recruiter. Another good call objective within the context of an initial candidate call would be to gain their agreement that they will send you an updated copy of their resume. These things need to happen first before a candidate can commit to engaging in an interview or being submitted to your client.

If on the other hand you’re calling a candidate to get feedback from a phone interview then your call objective might be to discover the candidate’s likes, dislikes and concerns about the job and to gain their commitment to scheduling the 2nd interview. This keeps the process moving forward and you gather more information about your candidate. 

What I will Say That Demonstrates Credibility (Introductory Candidate Call)
When your candidate receives your unsolicited call, it’s just another unplanned interruption in their day.  And if they get the slightest hint of a self-serving pitch or that you don’t understand what it is that they do or their job function, they will immediately shut you down. 

Here is what is going through the mind of your candidate when they receive your unsolicited phone call and received your unsolicited email or LinkedIn request:

  • “Has this recruiter even looked at my resume”
  • “Does this recruiter even understand my job role and function?” 
  • “Does the recruiter sound like every other recruiter?”
  • “Can I trust this recruiter?” 

The BEST way and really the ONLY way (and quickest way) to address and overcome these candidate concerns is to immediately share with your candidate what it is that you know about them. You shouldn't be talking about yourself, your company or your job opportunity. If you do, it will be an immediate turn off to the candidate and you will sound like every other recruiter in the industry.  To demonstrate credibility, share with the candidate the research that you conducted. Share with the candidate what it is that you know about them including their job role and function and their career accomplishments such as awards, certifications, and promotions.

Questions to Ask, Issues to Validate
It is no secret that top performers ask the most questions and they ask the best questions.  Don't forget, the other key to being a top performer is having a natural sense of curiosity.  You have to make sure you take the time to plan out your questions in advance. When connecting for the first time with a brand new candidate, your initial questions should be centered around uncovering the candidate’s current situation.  If you don't plan out and document your questions in advance you will forget and important candidate details will slip through the cracks.

Relevant Ideas, Insights, Trends I Will Share to Add Value 
In general, all recruiters provide the same service, so how will you differentiate yourself?  How will your candidate's see and hear the difference between working with you vs another recruiter?  

The recruiter that creates the most engaging experience will be the one who wins the hearts and minds of the candidates.  In order to differentiate yourself, you will need to create an experience for your candidates that is different from how your competitors engage them. Think of it this way, your conversations should be so impactful and valuable for your candidates that they would be willing to pay you for the time you spend with them.  How do you do that?  You create a call plan in which you prepare what you will say to share fresh ideas, insights, and trends that are relevant and of high value to the candidate persona including their job role and function, and their career goals and objectives.  

Anticipated FAQ’s, Objections and My Rebuttals 
No call plan would be complete without a plan for handling common questions and objections. In short, you need to anticipate which objections you will hear on your call and script out what you will say in response to each of those questions or objections. The good news is it is easy to anticipate what the common objections will be when initiating contact with a candidate for the first time.

Now that you know the key elements that make up a candidate call plan, you’re probably wondering:

  • Who should I create a call plan for? 
  • When should I create my call plans?
  • How long will it take me to create a call plan?

You should be creating call plans for every candidate you call.  This rule applies even for candidates who you have placed multiple times and those whom you have a long-lasting relationship with. The point of the call plan is to ensure you have a plan to achieve your call objectives and keep the process moving forward in the event the conversation deviates and goes off-script. Remember, if you want more candidate submittals, more candidate interviews and to make more placements, it all starts with call planning.

Learn more about candidate call planning including how and why it is key to effectively executing the candidate interview.

Executing Candidate Interviews for Effective Qualification

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