I hate the phone. In fact I could be the poster child for The New York Times “Don’t Call Me, I Won’t Call You“. The phone just cheeses me off – it’s one great big time suck. I will tweet with you, I will Facebook, I will Google chat. You can text me, you can email me but for the love of God don’t call me unless you have to.
And I work with a great group of people. But they are phone people and I am not. I made the mistake of telling my assistant one day that I was weary of the emails and just going to shut it down for a bit. I meant for like an hour. I think she tried to set a world record for calling me that day. I will never, ever, articulate that I’m taking a break from email again. My boss on the other hand gets how I work, we typically set times to chat, because being able to plan a break in my researching day is huge.
In my new job I’m finding candidates don’t want to talk on the phone either – but candidates are extremely accessible via email and yet unbelievably responsive. I can reach out to candidates anytime. At their work, at their home. Discreetly. And email puts the ball in their court. Whether they’re actively looking for a new job or my awesome opening volley has piqued their passive interest, email lets a candidate review my missive at their leisure. Some respond instantly, some within 24 hours, some within weeks. Whatever, I can work with it all. And I gently follow-up if I haven’t heard from them, and I do not spam. There is something about contacting a candidate via email or LinkedIn InMail or text or tweet or what have you that puts them in control. Candidates like to be in control. They’ve probably dealt with tons of recruiters who say they’ll call and then don’t. Via email, they know where you are, and if you want to be the real deal you better respond to them. Because if you don’t, you’ll be relegated to the spam folder.
So no one wants to talk on the phone to folks like you and me, and I’ll be honest, I have had candidates get their knickers in a twist when I reach out to them via email at work. And I can respect that. It’s easy for me to adjust to their needs. (P.S. to candidates though… unless you’re doing something, well let’s say unscrupulous, it’s highly unlikely that someone in your maxed IT department is looking at every single email you receive. If I were you I’d be more concerned about them monitoring your internet history – you can tell a lot about a person and what they’re doing in a day on that piece of information alone.)
And then said candidates want more information and want to play 20 questions. That’s cool too. We can do that. When the list gets beyond 5 questions though, yeah, I hate to say it, but it’s quicker to get on the phone and drill through those bad boys then write them all out. But we can coordinate that – via email of course – and accomodate the candidates schedule.
Don’t get me wrong though, I’ve also done it the old fashioned way – I used to dutifully do my research in the a.m. and then spend the rest of the day contacting candidates via phone, which meant leaving messages, and more than likely a little phone tag before we actually connected. Email though? It rocks for being able to cut to the chase, inform, answer questions and move forward.
All of this fails though if I don’t have an engaging message. Something authentic and informative and certainly not some tired regurgitation of the job requisition. And you better be able to back up what you put in the message. Like if you include “After reviewing your profile online I thought you might be interested in JOBXYZ at COMPANYABC”, you better be ready to answer back their responding email that says where’d you find me? Why was my experience interesting? And so on…
And I can respond. Smart phone and laptop – thank you. I’ll respond anytime. Anywhere. (With the exception of church. I still can’t go there.)
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.