Recruiter's Guide to Making the Ultimate Candidate Pitch
Your candidate pitch can make or break your deal, so it's a good idea for recruiters to have their pitch nailed down before meeting with their account manager or customer. I've coached thousands of recruiters and have heard my fair share of both great and not-so-great candidate pitches. For this post, the recruiter's guide to making the ultimate candidate pitch, I'd like to share with you the anatomy of a good candidate pitch including our seven-step framework.
Depending on your internal process, you (as a recruiter) may be required to pitch your candidate to your account manager who decides whether or not your candidate will be submitted to the hiring manager or you may pitch your candidate directly to the hiring manager. Either way, part of your role and responsibility is to make a compelling candidate pitch with the objective of securing the candidate interview. The quality and effectiveness of your candidate pitch will have the biggest impact on your candidate submittal to interview ratio.
With that being said, I share with you the recruiter's guide to making the ultimate candidate pitch.
Why Nailing Your Candidate Pitch is Important
I like to refer to the candidate pitch as the “last mile” because it’s the final stretch of the screening and interview process that is still 100% in control of the recruiter. Your candidate pitch, or "the last mile," is critically important because it is the only thing that connects all of your time and energy invested in screening and interviewing the candidate to achieving your objective of securing a candidate interview with the hiring manager. Ironically, for many recruiting professionals, the candidate pitch is often overlooked and undervalued. Conventional wisdom tells most recruiters “my job as a recruiter is to source, screen, interview and present candidates and at that point the account manager or hiring manager decides whether or not they want to interview my candidate.” While that is certainly true, our job is also to influence how our account manager or hiring manager thinks about and perceives our candidate relative to the job opportunity. The effectiveness of our candidate pitch is how we influence the account manager or hiring manager. Fortunately, there is a relatively easy way to improve the quality and effectiveness of your candidate pitch and increase your candidate submittal to interview ratios.
Do’s and Don’t of Making Your Candidate Pitch
When it comes to presenting your candidate do NOT simply send an email to your account manager or hiring manager with the candidate resume attached. This is an incredibly weak and passive approach. When you submit candidates exclusively via email messages and fail to discuss your candidate with the manager directly, you have no way of knowing how your manager perceives your message. In fact, they may perceive it (an email or text) as you lacking confidence in your candidate. After all, if you’re really confident in your candidate, why wouldn’t you want to discuss your candidate with the manager face-to-face or at least over a phone or video call? After investing all of your time and energy sourcing, screening and interviewing your candidate, don’t leave it to chance. Present your candidate to the manager face-to-face or via video call so that you can get immediate feedback and have the opportunity to address any questions or concerns in person and without delay. If your account manager or hiring manager is not comfortable with interviewing your candidate or feels they lack the proper experience or qualifications, make them tell you that face to face. You’ve earned that right.
Recruiters who rely exclusively on submitting candidate’s via email, can’t express confidence, conviction or enthusiasm in their email message the same way they can in an actual conversation. Not only that, whenever you present a candidate to your account manager or hiring manager, you should know that they will ALWAYS have questions. In many instances they may have concerns regarding your candidate. But if you present your candidate via an email message they often will not proactively raise those questions or concerns. And you want and need to be able to address any questions or concerns in a face-to-face phone or video call rather than through an email thread. You can’t effectively sell or pitch your candidate through back and forth email messages. Instead you must speak directly with your account manager or hiring manager. When pitching your candidate keep the following tips in mind.
- 93% of communication (your pitch) is not what you say but HOW YOU SAY IT. You MUST have confidence and conviction in your voice tonality. This can’t be overstated which is why our recruiter training programs focus heavily on communication skills
- You must also deliver your candidate pitch with energy, enthusiasm and a smile on your face. We are NOT suggesting that you overdo it to the point where your pitch sounds fake. But if you don’t LOOK and SOUND excited and confident about your candidates, neither will your account manager or hiring manager
- Before you pitch your candidate to your account manager, script your pitch out word for word and anticipate potential questions and objections ahead of time. You need to be prepared. You just worked your tail off to recruit your candidate, don’t let your hard work go to waste.
- Be assertive and take charge. Remember, you are the expert on your candidate. Nobody knows your candidate better than you. You have to be assertive and advocate for your candidate. Recruiters have rights, stand up for yourself and your candidate!
There will be instances where you can’t physically meet with your account manager or hiring manager face-to-face to pitch your candidate. In these instances I suggest you make your candidate pitch via video conference call. There are plenty of tools you can use for this such as Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts and many others. The point is, to maximize the effectiveness of your candidate pitch, your account manager or hiring manager needs to physically see you and you need to physically see them.
Another (relatively) new approach that is gaining traction is many recruiters are recording their candidate pitch on video and sharing their video with the account manager and hiring manager. You can also ask your candidate to record a video pitching themselves for the opportunity.
Seven Step Candidate Pitch Framework For Recruiters to Increase Candidate Submittal to Interview Ratios.
To formulate your candidate pitch we suggest you follow the 7 step framework.
1.) Frame Your Candidate Pitch with Context
Begin your pitch by providing context. The degree and relevance to which you provide context for your account manager or hiring manager will have the biggest impact on how your pitch is received. Context adds relevance and specificity which will help your account manager or hiring manager visualize and understand exactly how your candidate will make an impact in the position. In essence, your candidate pitch needs to be highly tailored for the specific role they are being considered. To provide relevant context, share with your account manager or hiring manager when and where your candidate worked on a similar project that was similar in size and scope and shared the same or similar goals. You can use this script to provide relevant context.
“Mr. hiring manager, as we know, the overall goal of the project is to improve supply chain efficiency and reduce the amount of time product sits in your warehouse. We also understand that the specific challenges you need the candidate to resolve include integrating your SAP supply chain management solution with the your warehouse, distribution and manufacturing execution systems. The candidate is also expected to deliver the functional workflows diagrams and data migration strategy road map. Having said that, let me share with you when and where <insert candidate name> worked on a similar project in which he resolved the same types of issues and produced the same work product and results.”
Providing context enables you to properly frame the candidate pitch in which the information you share is highly tailored to the specific role which makes it relevant and valuable to the account manager and/or hiring manager. Yes, to do this does mean that the recruiter must fully understand the client job description. But when recruiters properly frame the conversation with context they achieve higher candidate submittal to interview ratios. Keep in mind that this approach is WAY different than the standard candidate pitch where the recruiter simply states:
- My candidate has 3 years of "X" skill
- My candidate is certified in "A, B, and C"
- My candidate has used "X, Y, and Z tools"
2.) Make Your Candidate Pitch
Now that you have properly framed the conversation for you to make your candidate pitch, share in detail how your candidate helped their current or recent employer solve the same or similar challenge that your hiring manager needs resolved. Explain how your candidate solved the challenge including the steps or action items they took to resolve the issue. (Side note, yes, when executing the candidate interview, recruiters should be uncovering when and where the candidate resolved the same or similar challenges that the hiring manager needs resolved and the steps or action items they took to resolve those issues. That is the purpose of the candidate interview).
Next, explain the relevant work product, artifacts or deliverables your candidate produced. Finally, be sure to explain when, where and how your candidate applied the relevant tools, processes, methodologies, technologies and skills to resolve the issues and deliver the final results.3.) Check for Feedback
In our recruiter training programs we spend a great deal of time teaching recruiters the key sales communication skills that are required to have productive conversations. Conversations that actually get traction and create action on behalf of the hiring manager or account manager. One of those communication skills is the concept of "checking."
After making your candidate pitch you need to check for feedback. You might say:
- “What do you think?”
- “What do you think of their experience and background?”
- “Wouldn’t you agree that they have the perfect pedigree for this role?”
- “Isn’t this candidate amazing? How would you like to proceed?”
Checking for feedback at this stage is critically important because it lets you gauge your account manager or hiring manager’s reaction to what you’ve just said. It allows you to identify what, if any concerns or objections they might have regarding the viability of your candidate. Checking allows you to know exactly where things stand with your candidate and their candidacy for the role. By checking you can change or adjust your position and strategy as you proceed through the conversation. Checking in this context increases your chances of advancing the opportunity because you have verified with your account manager how they feel about proceeding with your candidate.
The skill of checking is one of the most undervalued recruiting skills but one that can easily be developed through experiential training.
4.) Explain Why Your Candidate Wants the Job
Next, and this important, be sure to share with your account manager or hiring manager why your candidate wants the job and is interested specifically in working for this employer. This is important because employers don’t just want candidates who are qualified and available, they want candidates who want to be a part of their organization. Sharing this information with your account manager or hiring manager also sends a strong message that you really took the time to get to know and understand your candidate through your interview and screening process.
5.) Share Your Candidate’s Interview Availability
Next, share with your account manager your candidate’s interview availability. It is inexcusable for a recruiter to NOT have confirmed and verified with their candidate three specific dates and times in which the candidate can interview for the job. Be sure to share with your account manager or hiring manager three separate dates and times in which your candidate can interview.
Next, share with your hiring manager when your candidate is available to begin work. You should have a specific date that you and your candidate have agreed to in which he or she can begin work. Be sure to inform your account manager or hiring manager of any planned PTO your candidate has scheduled. You also need to inform your account manager or hiring manager whether or not your candidate needs to give their current employer a 2 week, 3 week or 4 week notice. Be sure to have these details locked down PRIOR to pitching your candidate.
7.) Share Your Candidate’s Agreed Upon Rate or Salary
Finally, share with your account manager (NOT THE HIRING MANAGER) the hourly rate or salary that you and your candidate have agreed to. If you are presenting your candidate directly to the hiring manager for a full time, direct hire position, share with the hiring manager your candidates expected first year full salary. If you are presenting your candidate to the hiring manager for a contract position, share with the hiring manager the hourly BILL RATE. Don’t offer wishy-washy rate ranges. Provide the specific number. There should be zero ambiguity regarding the rate. To do this you will need to make sure you properly qualify your candidate's pay rate.
Pro Tip: It is OK to quote your account manager a pay rate that is slightly HIGHER than what you and your candidate agreed to. You can do this to ensure that you have a little wiggle room to work with in the event the hiring manager tries to negotiate or makes a low-ball offer. This way you save margin in your deal and commissions in your paycheck.
Hopefully you can see how and why the skill of making the candidate pitch is key to increasing your candidate submittal to interview ratio and equally as important as candidate qualification and executing the candidate interview.