Like a lot of recruiters, I don’t like cold calling.
I love speccing out candidates.
The hard part of cold calling in recruitment is we don’t have a product to believe in – speccing out a candidate is an easy work around.
Don’t think it’s just for the high street agencies, either. We recently had a candidate out on interview for a £150,000 role off the back of a speculative CV send.
Do it well and you’ll get more vacancies and more roles.
Do it badly, though, and you can tarnish your reputation and waste a lot of time.
Here’s ten tips to make it work.
1. Have an end in mind.
What do you want?
Sometimes we spec out candidates to set an interview; more often we spec out candidates to gain a vacancy.
To be clear: firstly, I want to arrange an interview then and then. Secondly, I want to know what vacancies they have, and what I might be interested in working on. Thirdly, I want to know what they struggle to find.
2. Have the right candidate.
This depends on what your end is. To set an interview, they must:
• Look fantastic on paper.
• Have quantifiable achievements.
• Interview well (not meeting someone you’re sticking your neck out to sell is a stupid risk).
• Be committed to move.
• Be flexible on location.
• Be realistic on salary (and ideally be underpaid).
• Be relatively ‘under the radar’.
To gain vacancies, it’s a little simpler. They must:
• Have fantastic quantifiable achievements.
• Be relatively ‘under the radar’.
3. Gain commitment from the candidate.
There are different degrees of candidate commitment. The lowest level is knowing they’ll turn up to an interview. Knowing you can tell them who you’ve spoken to, and they won’t cut you and go direct.
When they’re really committed, candidates will tell you who else they are interviewing with, what other companies have called them up and what they think of the position. Who they’ve met. How it went.
They’ll ask your advice.
So commitment is important, because cold calling someone and the candidate not turning up is a pretty basic error. But it’s also important, because if you’re not doing it your missing out on leads, and therefore revenue.
4. Plan it.
I place interims in food manufacturing. I’d never spec out someone from an ambient retorting background into a chilled RTE manufacturer (better put – I wouldn’t try and put a baked bean expert into a sushi company).
Don’t be stupid.
Spec people into their direct competitors. Spec people into allied industries. Write or print out the company, site, prospect, title and number.
Start at the top.
And never, ever spec someone into HR.
Like I said. Don’t be stupid.
5. Script it.
I know, I know, everyone hates scripts.
Get over it.
If you write out what you’re going to say (or better, bullet point it), then you can concentrate on your delivery. You can concentrate on non-verbal cues. You can listen properly, and you won’t fumble for words like a kid in a nativity play.
Two words that will make you lots of money, though you probably already know it. The sizzle is the quantifiable achievements.
The sizzle is “Pippa took a sausage manufacturer from critical red audit with Sainsbury’s to green within 16 weeks.”
It isn’t “She’s a really good technical manager, great background, really good references. I’d really like it if you met her.”
Use three bits of sizzle.
Sizzle without steak is achievements without a broad background. A prospect needs to be impressed by the sizzle, but they’re unlikely to meet your candidate based on that alone.
Steak is the background, ideally in three bullet points.
“Pippa has worked as a technical manager in food manufacturing for the last 17 years, covering chilled ready meals, cooked and raw meats, sandwiches and seafood.”
It doesn’t need to be showy (that’s for the sizzle) – it needs to be solid.
8. Do it, and record it.
Do it, and do it well.
Record who you speak to, who you leave messages for, who reacts well and who doesn’t react.
If you’re not recording what you’re doing, you’re missing out the opportunity to get better.
If you don’t do it, you’ll never make any money.
If you’re not naturally enthusiastic, don’t pretend to be. Be yourself. Be honest. Slow down when you speak.
If you don’t stop and listen, you’ll get nothing.
Listening is basic. Listening is picking up the lead in “I’m not looking for that type of process person, thanks though”. Listening is realising someone is too busy to properly listen, and getting their mobile to call back on.
Listening involves shutting up, too.
If they’re interested, ask when they can meet. If they want to see a CV, ask why – then them on the vacancy.
In my script, I don’t say “I’m calling about a candidate who is a specialist in…”.
I say “I’m about a specific interim technical manager, to see if you’d be interested in meeting them.”
That’s what I want.
If they know what you want, they can evaluate as you spec in the candidate. They’re ready for the question at the end – do you think this person could add value? When would you like to meet?
Ten tips for speccing out candidates.