With the ongoing buzz about social media, it’s become far too easy to forget about building real relationships.

These seemingly simple concepts have gotten lost in translation. Getting back to the basics of genuine conversation can be extremely beneficial in an era where nearly everyone has forgotten. 

Research shows over and over that emotional connections are central to what make people want to share their stories, engage in conversation, and create a lasting impression. Emotions are hard to convey through tweets, Facebook posts, and LinkedIn Inmails. 

Ask yourself a question – How many times has the receiving party of your text or email misinterpreted the tone/intent of your message? 

The phone, even in today’s social media craze, allows for a personal and emotional connection.  Emotional connections with candidates are critical to creating high satisfaction and engagement rates and should be critical for every recruiter.

It seems as though in today’s recruiting circles we focus on how to “automate” this connection through social media tools, wishing to remove ourselves from the process more and more. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, while a huge proponent of social media, has said a key tool in the company’s success is the 100-year-old phone.  He said the phone is one of the most underutilized resources for most companies, even calling it “one of the best branding devices out there.” 

Too many recruiters today try to avoid the phone because they “don’t have time” to build personal and emotional connections with their candidates. Now is the time to stop making excuses and tap into this ignored resource.

First Steps: Set an Introductory Goal 
Each and every candidate conversation is an opportunity for pipeline creation and an entryway for future opportunities, referrals, and positive brand building for yourself and your organization. The initial step is to view the conversation less as making a deal and more as making a new friend and developing a relationship. People appreciate a genuine attitude and tone, and will be able to better interpret your true intent if you feel strongly about relationship development. Look at the conversation as making a new friend rather than making a sales pitch, but remember the overall goal: to get them to call back! 

Remember, It’s Not About You! 
Yes, the focus is to get the candidate to work with you, but you still must be selfless. Keep in mind that it’s not actually about you, it’s about the candidate. Don’t overwhelm them with a lengthy pitch; keep it succinct and to the point. Instead of putting pressure on them, be conversational and allow them to realize you don’t have a hidden agenda. 

Avoid “I need” or “I want” in messages. Focus on what THEY need and want.

Present with Confidence 
Confidence is everything in a message and one of the easiest red flags for a candidate to sense. Once you understand the candidate’s real drivers, you can present the right opportunity for the right reasons.Ask “What are the next steps in your career?” to gain insight into the candidate’s future plans and whether the opportunity would be a good match. Show genuine interest in their plans for the future, whether these plans are set in stone or entirely uncertain. 

Even the most passive candidates are worth pursuing. Studies show that more and more, the line between active candidates and passive candidates is blurring. According to the Kelly Global Workforce Index,

  • 37% of employees think about quitting their job regularly
  • 43% of generation X thinks perpetually about resigning

This means more than ever, every candidate is worth a conversation!


Know Your Stuff 
We’ve all been there: the dreaded In-the-Dark position to fill in which the recruiter doesn’t know enough about the industry, the company or the position to accurately pitch it to a candidate. Each and every time, Do Your Homework! Research the company, the position, and the role. Ask as many questions as you can to the Hiring Manager or Human Resources professional you are working with in order to fully comprehend the situation. 

This will be extremely valuable when it comes time to make and maintain contact with the candidate. The candidate will easily be able to sense when a Recruiter is not up to speed on the job. If you don’t know much about it, why would they want to? Avoid slipups and awkward conversation by reading up first. No one wants to hear a recruiter stammer because of lack of details. 

Avoid these Phrases

  • This is a great/perfect opportunity
  • Please call/email when you can
  • Call me at your convenience
  • If you or someone you know would be interested

You’ll be shocked at how much insight you’ll gain by actually listening to the candidate instead of waiting for your turn to speak. Take the time to sincerely listen and develop questions based on what the candidate says. 

Following Up
It’s important to understand the difference between planting the seed and being a pest. Be persistent, but put in place a system for following up with a candidate. 

One tactic is to acknowledge that everyone is busy and that you realize they are likely swamped, but that developing mutually beneficial business relationships is helpful for career growth no matter where the candidate is on their journey. Allow them to understand you are there to help them take steps in the right direction professionally. 

Be assertive with “Call me tomorrow” instead of “Please call me if you are able.” This puts them in control but still allows you to be firm. If you are still having trouble hearing back from them, approach it from a different angle. If they do not reply to the first few voicemails, do not grow frustrated but instead revisit the situation with a different tactic.

Acknowledging Common Objections 
“Don’t Bother Me” Objections are incredibly common. Some of the most frequently heard objections include “I’m not looking,” “I’m happy with my current job,” or “I’ve been here for years.” Prepare ahead of time for these types of objections with the appropriate response. 

Let the candidate know, for instance, that you’re glad to hear they’re not looking, because loyalty speaks volumes. Being happy in your current role is an ample time to consider other options, because there is little to no pressure to make a quick decision. The candidate is able to review their current situation at their leisure. 

Explain to the candidate what it means to build a relationship with someone who isn’t searching for a job. To warm them up to the idea of engaging in a career conversation, ask them what it is about their role or company that keeps them happy and engaged. Ease into the conversation in a way that lets the candidate know you’re simply looking to get to know one another.

Try the 10 out of 10 Rule 
Another tactic is to encourage the candidate to truly assess what would make them completely, 100% happy in their professional life. One way of doing this is to conversationally suggest that no one is ever truly a “10 out of 10” in career happiness. 

Ask them what changes would need to take place in order to become a “10 out of 10.” Once they arrive at a number on the happiness scale, ask what keeps them at this number (points of pleasure) vs. what would make them entirely happy (points of pain). 

Remember Who You Are 
Remember that throughout the process, the candidate is also interviewing you. Both of you are on the spot and it’s equally important to maintain a professional and knowledgeable demeanor each and every time. Be open about who you are and what your role is. Give an overview of your background. The candidate deserves to know about you just as much as you deserve to know about them. 

Practice Makes Perfect 
Master the art of messaging by leaving yourself messages for practice. Ask yourself: Would YOU call yourself back? Would you really? If the answer is no, practice, practice, practice.

Download the Candidate Conversation WHitepaper