It Takes 2 to Make a Thing Go Right: Email & Phone by @MarkNexus

Dec 5, 2014
DJ-E-Z-Rock-rob-baseRight now, I wanna source right now
I’m Mark T. and I came to get down
My strings are internationally known
But I also use a telephone

I’ll give everyone a minute to finish singing this song in their heads… So the other day I spoke to a sourcer about a potential candidate we found. I asked the sourcer, “did you contact the candidate?” And the sourcer replied, “Yes I emailed them”. 

After staring at me for a couple of seconds like I had bugs crawling all over me, the sourcer replied that they didn’t have the candidate’s number and that the candidate wasn’t expecting a phone call. Instead of my first reaction, which was to scream “WHAT!?!?!” I suggested that the sourcer look up the main phone line of the corporate branch that this candidate worked at. Then I said to ask for the candidate by name or use the dial by directory to get to his voicemail.

Everything is Upside Down

In terms of connecting and sourcing candidates, we’ve come full circle. In fact, we’ve actually gone too far in the other direction. In the early and mid-90’s, you would be hard pressed to find your candidates online in order to email them. The first thing you did was pick up the phone and call them. Now we have many ways to message candidates electronically. The ease and availability of emails, tweets, texts and posts has stunted the interactive growth of our profession.

The balance of communication has shifted to the computer-based side of things. And this is not limited to recruiting or sourcing. Communication through the internet and the WWW has given users a safe buffer from the rest of the world. Everyone can say what’s on their mind and they can even “fluff” up the truth a little bit more. There are fewer consequences of what you say because the person you speak with is a country away or only known by their Twitter handle. Everyone is brave, but they are really just “internet brave”. Don’t believe me? Just read through the comments section of ANY website, blog, forum, or social network. You would never say those kinds of things to someone F2F or on the phone.

Telephone Line, Give it Some Time

Because of this change in communication amongst normal people (not sourcers or recruiters), there seem to be more staffing professionals who only email candidates when they are sourcing. Only after the safe exchange of information happens between candidate and sourcer does a phone conversation take place. A higher ratio of candidate conversations could happen if there was more use of the phone right off the bat. Why is it bad to attract candidates using this method only? In other words, why is it bad to do “email recruiting”?

  • Timing – Emails are great. You can send one to a candidate, and they will read it when their schedule allows. Why is that so bad? Well that’s because you’re the 20th email they received today. And now your emails get sent to the trash automatically using a spam-trap they created. But catch them on the phone at the right time? That could be something different. Leave a voicemail that emphasizes excitement, new careers and cool company branding? That could capture more of their attention instead of TYPING IN ALL CAPS with many exclamation marks!!!!!!!!
  • Real-Time – Emails are great. We’ve established that. You can carefully craft a message and think about what you are putting into the email over and over before you hit send. The only problem is that your candidate is doing exactly that as well. If you ask a question in real-time (on the phone) you are more likely to get an honest answer from the candidate without as much exaggeration or stretching the truth. That doesn’t mean that won’t ever lie to you, but real-time communications on the phone can get you a more realistic view of the candidate.
  • Honesty – Are you getting an honest answer from the candidate about their experience? Did the candidate really do what their profile or resume indicates? Unfortunately in this day and age, you might think you are emailing an individual candidate when really you are emailing their H1-B handler at a Copr-2-Corp IT agency. That IT agency’s agenda is to get their consultants off the bench and start making the agency some money. A simple phone call can help deduce some of this important information.

The One-Two Punch of Email and Phone

If you are feeling a little wary about picking up that phone and just diving in, here are some pointers to help you out:

  • Have a good plan – One of the major turn-offs for candidates is the fact that recruiters and sourcers make the communication exchange all about them. This leaves the candidate feeling used and makes the interaction seem impersonal. So instead, call up the candidate to talk why their experience interests you. Even if you don’t fully understand what the candidate does, by talking to them, you can listen to the candidate speak passionately about what they love to do.
  • One-two punch – A sourcer worth their weight in gold (or stock options) can find the email of a candidate. They can also find the phone number of that candidate or their work number. To help ease into the conversation with the candidate, try sending an email and then following up within minutes on the phone. Tell the candidate that you are following up about the email you sent them. Once the candidate realizes that you are on the level, you have already got them on the hook for a phone call.
  • Yesware – If you want a little help in the notification department, you can use a Chrome extension called Yesware that tracks emails that you send and when they are opened by the receiver. You can use this extension to help you plan your calls strategically.
  • Phone Trees – Every company has a local branch that your candidate works at. If they have an automated assistant, then you can navigate your way to the dial by directory part of the phone tree and then search for the name of your candidate. Most of the time you can figure out how to do this, and it’s usually a series of *** or ### or *0 on the phone.
  • When to Pursue – Candidates are not available every moment of every day. That’s fine. Just talk to them like they are a real person (duh!) and figure out a better time you can talk. If they are being aloof with you it might not be because they think you stink at your job. They might be sitting next to their boss and don’t want to advertise that they are getting recruiter calls. But ask if they can talk at 5:30 and you might be surprised that they want to talk to you then.
  • When to Back Off – Some candidates are working at their dream job and wouldn’t leave for anything in the world. That is also fine. The time you took to get to know the candidate and keep communication lines open could pay off for you in the future. A “no” answer now might turn out to be a positive thing in the future when that candidate remembers the sourcer or recruiter who took the time to get to know them.

Some of what I’ve talked about here seems like it is common sense. But you would be surprised at the number of sourcers and recruiters who rely on email as their main method of communication. As sourcers and recruiters, our trouble is not finding enough candidates. The real issue is getting them to respond. Some of these candidates would like to talk to you. All you have to do is pick up that telephone…