Engaging passive candidates: The art of cold calling

Engaging passive candidates: The art of cold calling

Cold calling has always been part of the life of a recruiter. It’s an effective way to identify prospects and build relationships with candidates who might be a good fit for roles. This is especially true when the job market is tight and competition for candidates is fierce, which makes it even more crucial for recruiters to pick up the phone. But cold calling only works if it’s targeted, personalized, and engaging. Let’s dive into how recruiters can make those cold calls count.

Differentiating yourself

Only a small percentage of job seekers are looking for a role at any given time. And yet, while the vast majority of relevant prospects who could be a great fit might be passive candidates, they certainly would consider a placement if the right one fell into their laps. The challenge lies in the fact that most candidates are also being contacted by other agencies. To build rapport, make the candidate feel at ease, and build trust, recruiters must differentiate themselves.

Before you pick up the phone, researching the candidate’s skills and career trajectory is essential. LinkedIn is usually the place to start. If sending a connection request or an InMail, it is essential to personalize these – there is nothing worse than a message pitching a job that isn’t a good fit. Generic messages are easy for candidates to spot, so ensure your outreach has a truly personal element. A polite message to ask if they would be interested in a call can also be a good approach. It’s all about making a positive impression, so thought and time should always go into any communication. 

This research will help immensely in preparing for the eventual cold call. Keep your candidate notes on hand and add to them during the call so you can continue building a picture of the person and the type of role and company they would be suited to. Use the tools you have to hand effectively. Look at when they are most active and time your outreach with this information. If they regularly post on LinkedIn at a set time or day, reach out during this optimal period. If you’ve sent an initial email to them, look at any trends in when they have opened your message. This will help best ensure that you time your cold call perfectly. 

Timing is also crucial to a successful cold call. Keep your call to outside work hours, the best times being either early morning before work, lunchtime, or after work in the early evening. Being courteous is a must, acknowledging that it might not be a good time for the person to talk or that they might not be open to moving jobs at all. At the very least, try to reach an agreement to keep in touch with regular communication.     

Nurturing candidate relationships

The biggest pitfall to avoid is pitching a job right off the bat. Build to that point gradually and find out more about the individual first to ensure they are the right fit. A summary of your industry expertise could follow a brief intro about the company and why you’re best suited to find the candidate a role in their field. Don’t forget to let the candidate speak and listen attentively, making notes as you go along. Mentioning past successes with professionals of similar skills and backgrounds should be left to the end, as this will pique the candidate’s interest. The candidate will be left feeling like you’re invested in their career, and they’ll be more open to a second, more in-depth conversation. 

On that note, don’t forget to schedule a follow-up call. This also provides a good opportunity to discuss a recent salary survey or report and provide key market insights. Even if the candidate isn’t interested in going any further, you’ve already built a solid relationship, and that individual may get in touch with you in the future.

If the conversation has moved on to discussing potential jobs, then the recruitment process kicks into place. From here, you can explain future steps, like sending a job description and getting the candidate’s consent for it to be shared with the client. Whether sorting out interview times or providing feedback, regular communication is key in cementing and nurturing the candidate relationship. It’s also a good idea to meet the candidate first to brief them in person (or via a virtual video meeting) and help them prepare for their interview. 

Preparation and research, the cold call itself, and a genuine desire to put the candidate’s career first will help lay the foundations for a lasting relationship. With just one call, you might plant the seeds for a fruitful candidate relationship.


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