The Passive Candidate Flips You Off In the First Five Seconds – What Do You Do?

Kris Dunn Always Be Closing, Candidate Pool, Kris Dunn, Recruiting, Sourcing

Let's say you're cold calling passive candidates, and you ultimately run into the dark side – the candidate who has no time for you and interrupts your initial stage banter with the following:

"What's the job, company and pay?  Just tell me that because I don't have time to talk to you…"

If you recruit for a living, you know that's a pretty tame version, because I can't accurately depict theCold_call LOATHING that some folks who pick up the phone (the potential candidate) will have for you (the unwashed heathen, otherwise known as the cold calling recruiter).

So, how do you handle it when you're 7 seconds into your opening, and the candidate interrupts you and says "dude, tell me the pay and I'll tell you if you can afford me…"?  After all, you've worked hard to make your stage banter early in the call sound like a cross between Kid Rock and Tony Robbins.  How could they NOT want to talk to you?

Lou Adler sees it this way over at ERE:

"What’s the compensation?" When someone asks, don’t tell! Say, “Before I tell you that, I’d like you to think about the best jobs you’ve ever held, those that gave you the most personal satisfaction. Were the reasons they were the best due to the amount of money you were making or due to the work you were doing?” (PA– USE and wait for an answer.) “Now, if the job I’m representing offered you a chance to maximize your personal satisfaction plus offered a competitive compensation, wouldn’t it make sense to at least discuss it for 5-10 minutes?” …

"First, tell me about the job." You must never tell the person about the job, even the actual title, until you have conducted a quick work history review. Start the conversation by asking your prospect if she’d be open to discuss an opportunity if it were clearly superior to what she’s doing now. Most people will say yes, then immediately say “Great. Could you please give me a quick overview of your background, and I’ll then give you a quick overview of the job.”

As you might expect, many readers think that sounds like a sleazy telemarketing pitch.  Ask a Manager reacts to that like a lot of candidates would:

"I don't know about you, but if a recruiter called me out of the blue and subjected me to this sort of game-playing, I'd be off the phone in seconds. I'm happy to talk to recruiters who respect my time and don't try to manipulate their way past "no," but make me feel like you're an aggressive salesman and we're done. And to demand that I recite my job history for you, when you called me? That just tells me you didn't do your homework."

Me?  I think Lou's got the right idea, but I think each recruiter has to live within the construct of who they are.  Be genuine, and the candidate will sense that and be more open.  If you've got the moxie and stage banter to pull off Lou's advice, maybe you've got the ability to be successful with that approach over 100 calls.  You just have to accept that a lot of people are going to think you're a telemarketer.  If you close 2X the business of the other recruiters, you've won at the end of the day.

That being said, Lou's advice in this scenario can't be a one size fits all.  My style would be to give them the information they want, then follow closely with a reason that I thought they would be a good fit, based on the resume I had in my hand, then try to get them talking about what they might be looking for so I can figure out their pain points.  If your style can't handle the Adler machismo, you've got to blend your personality with the hooks that Lou is providing to maximize yourself over 100 calls.

The last thing I'll say?  When you are cold calling, sometimes you have to get jacked up and take on an alter ego that is not your own, to get through the candidate cynicism and rejection.  I'm reminded of the following scene from Boiler Room (email subscribers, click through for the video – WARNING – language alert).  I'm thinking this is a young Lou Adler eating a bowl of cereal when he gets a telemarketing call.

Sometimes you have to stand up to get in character.  Be genuine, but don't be afraid to push and sell it, my FOT brothers and sisters….