To Boost Candidate Submittals Master the Skill, Disarming Candidates Blog Feature
Dan Fisher

By: Dan Fisher on March 30th, 2018

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To Boost Candidate Submittals Master the Skill, Disarming Candidates

This may not be the case with you and your team of IT recruiters, but many recruiters are struggling to hit their weekly candidate submittal goal. For many staffing firms the weekly goal or standard is ten candidate submittals yet most recruiter’s are only submitting six to seven candidates per week and many more are only averaging three to five candidate submittals.  Are candidates really that much more difficult to source and speak with today than they were five or ten years ago?  Arguably. Yes, the market is tight but there is a massive passive candidate market that is prime and ripe to recruit from.  And top performers are still meeting and exceeding their weekly candidate submittal and interview goal.

So, what is the real reason for why recruiters are struggling to submit ten or more highly qualified candidates each week?  

If your recruiters are struggling with weekly candidate submittals try listening to their initial introductory candidate call.  It is likely your recruiters are making a pitch that sounds something like “I saw your resume/profile online, I have the perfect opportunity for you.”  This message does NOT sit with well IT candidates, especially in this job market.  Another example of this is with cold introductory emails.  If your recruiters are  sending out cold introductory emails that focus exclusively on pitching the job opportunity with the job description attached to the email, then let me tell you your recruiters need to change their approach. Here is why.

Candidate Behavior Has Changed
Candidates are incredibly skeptical of recruiters and the entire IT recruitment process these days and it easy to see why. Unfortunately there are plenty of recruiters out there who over-promise and under-deliver and there are many more who fail to ever follow-up with their candidates. These experiences leave a bad taste in the mouth of a candidate. And of course candidates despise being pitched by a recruiter. For these reasons (and many others) candidates are highly skeptical of recruiters. When a candidate receives a call from a recruiter, the hair on the back of their neck goes up and they intuitively become defensive. When the recruiter goes into pitch mode the candidate naturally responds by saying “send me the job description and I will take a look.”  Make no mistake, THIS IS A BLOW OFF and RECRUITERS NEED TO KNOW UNDERSTAND WHY THIS HAPPENS TO THEM.   Because in most cases (from my experience coaching thousands of recruiters), the call ends and the candidate stops accepting calls and emails from the recruiter.  Sound familiar?  Here is why this happens and what to do about it.

Mastering the Skill of Disarming Candidatesdisarming candidate
While the entire industry has become absorbed and fascinated with the latest and greatest sourcing and recruiting tools,  ATS systems and sourcing strategies, one of the most fundamental and critical recruiting skills has been completely lost. That recruiting skill is disarming candidates.  Until your candidates know you and know that they can trust you, they will naturally be skeptical of you and what you have to say, offer and do. Think about how you feel when you’re approached by a salesperson in a retail store. How do you react?  Most people are full of anxiety and naturally put their guard up and just want the salesperson to go away.  Your candidates are no different.  To make your candidates feel comfortable in speaking with you and sharing sensitive and even personal information (salary history, career goals, reasons why they're unhappy with their current employer, etc.) and engaging in open, honest and transparent dialogue, you will need to develop the skill of disarming. There is no way around it.  Recruiters lose candidates because they fail to disarm and properly engage their candidates.

Disarming means to relieve your candidate of anxiety, pressure or hostility, and to put them at ease and feel comfortable speaking with you.  How can recruiters accomplish this, especially with a brand new candidate? Rather than launching into a pitch on your opportunity you might say “would it be O.K. for me to take two minutes to explain why I’m calling?  By asking a simple question like this, the candidate now feels like he or she has a say in the conversation. By giving the candidate choices they feel empowered and no longer feel threatened.  Another example is when you want to share an opportunity with a candidate you could say something like “may I make a suggestion?”  Again, this is another, softer way of disarming the candidate by asking for their permission and giving them control of the conversation. It sounds counter-intuitive but it works like a charm. These examples may sound like small minor details but they are not. They make all the difference in the world. The difference could be three, four, five or more candidate submittals per week!

Adopting a Cold Calling Mindset
When it comes to making the introductory candidate call or even sending out an initial introductory email to a candidate, the first thing recruiters need to do is adjust their mindset.  While the goal for the recruiter is to schedule the candidate phone screen or face to face interview, recruiters can't tip their hand by allowing the candidate to know and  feel  that.  When engaging a candidate for the very first time, do NOT think about or focus on your goal of getting a candidate submittal. Your candidates will know, they see it from a mile away and they find it to be a real turn off. Instead, adjust your mindset and focus on the following when engaging candidates for the first time such as a candidate cold call.

  • Take the pressure off of yourself of getting a submittal or interview as the goal. If you take this pressure off of yourself, it changes your perspective and mindset. You won’t come across desperate and needy or salesy!  More importantly your confidence will get a boost and your candidates will hear it in the tonality of your voice.  Remember, nobody ever wants to hear from a desperate and needy recruiter
  • Second, because you have not yet spoken with the candidate, you have no idea if the candidate meets your target profile.  Your disposition should be that you are simply trying to see if there is a fit between the types of positions (not specific opportunity) you recruit for and the types of opportunities the candidate might be interested in and if you can be resource for the candidate.   
  • Focus on the candidate and getting him or her to talk about themselves.  Less is more and what I mean is if you shift the focus away from talking about your job to talking about your candidate and their interests, you will learn more about your candidate much quicker. You will actually shorten your recruitment cycle and increase your candidates submittals.
  • To increase your candidate submittals and ultimately your total number of placements go into your introductory candidate calls with the goal of disarming your candidate.
If you focus on disarming your candidate as your goal I think you will find that your candidates will be more open and willing to engage in a conversation which will enable a more productive candidate call and lead to more candidate submittals. 

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About Dan Fisher

Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.

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