Thursday, March 1, 2012

The People You Need to Call

I was discussing strategies with one of the headhunters on my team this morning and we were trying to develop the answer to a question:

How do you reach the maximum number of people per day?

This question follows a long line of questions that ends, theoretically, with "How do you make more placements?".

One area that is overlooked when strategizing around this question is the people you've already called.

The ones that have said no.  That they're not interested.  That it's a bad time.  That they're totally, one hundred percent, absolutely thrilled with the role they're in now.

Why should we call these people back? When should we call these people back?

I believe that calling back the people who have told you no is just as important.  Usually I wait for a day.  If the role I'm hunting for is unchanged - and the urgency to fill is unchanged - I'll call that person again, regardless of why they dismissed the opportunity last time.

This is a principle I learned in door-to-door sales, where I would keep a 'no' sheet of all the houses that did not want my service. Talking to them later in the afternoon tended to result in homeowners that saw how much work I had done by that point, how hard I was working - and might have talked to their spouse at that point, who was actually interested in what I had to offer.  All it took was for me to come back.

Why do this as headhunters? Firstly, many people that you called the day before that rejected you have likely spent a portion of the last 24 hours thinking about the conversation they had with you.  Between that call and the next one the day after, that candidate has likely discovered one or two reasons why they might have actually considered the role.

This is especially true for those that rejected your offer early into the conversation, without being willing to hear the details.

Now that you've got them on the phone again, this candidate may or may not be willing to talk to you again.

Secondly, now that you have spoken with this candidate once, and have either sent them an email, or gotten a resume, you've increased your rapport with that candidate.  This should cause them to be a bit more open - and a bit more honest with you.  This will be especially important, as mentioned, for those candidates that 'stonewalled' you on the first call, for whatever reason.  Their conviction was very high - but the next day, it may be low enough for you to have a more extended, open conversation about their actual career happiness.

This will result in having more effective conversations with your candidates, and utilizing your existing pool that much better - while creating candidates that will be very appreciative when you've landed them a job that they initially dismissed.

Thirdly, this gives your candidates that 'stonewalled' you an effective chance to learn what they're saying no to. This is an important observation in any sales environment: make sure that those who tell you no, know what they're saying no to.  Tying back in with the first point, once you've had a chance to be heard out about the role, and have discussed the particulars with the candidate, they may realize right on that call that the job sounds better than the one they've got. At that point, if the candidate says no again, at least you are convinced that they know they don't want it.

Also: don't worry about someone complaining that you've called them twice.  Most people won't be that irritated that you're trying your hardest to fill your role.  I've occasionally called candidates back three or four times, and had success - but most I stop at two with, since by the second conversation, I can generally 'feel' whether a candidate will be a fit or not based on their feedback to me.

Try this out - and see how effective it is for you. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

On The Topic of Mental Pressure

Recently, I acquired a brand new sales book from a company that I work with on the side.  The CEO, Ben Stewart, wrote and published it, and illustrated a lot of his observations about the winners and 'average joes' that the company sees.

One observation was on the topic of mental pressure. Ben highlights that one of the key differences between a 'big biller' and an 'average joe' is what happens once they've made their first sale, and gotten 'off zero' in the morning.  (The sales cycle for this company was per diem.)

Before their first sale, both the 'big biller' and the 'average joe' have adequate amounts of mental pressure to make a sale.  Both of them want to get 'off zero' as fast as they can.

However, once that first sale is achieved, the 'average joe' releases his mental pressure, satisfied that he will be able to go home tonight saying that he at least did not get zero.  At least he made some money.

The 'big biller' never releases his mental pressure, almost as if that person always feels that they are at zero - regardless of how well they've done over the course of the day.

The key difference is in how much effort both individuals will put into their work in earnest.  The 'big biller' is always hungry - and never allows himself to feel like he's had enough, or anything, throughout the day.  The 'average joe' fills up on his fill, and is satisfied - and therefore, mentally, 'hunting for food' becomes less of a priority.

How many of you, upon discovering the difference, are the 'big billers'? How many of you are the 'average joes'? Is it evident?

This mental habit went undetected by myself, and I would guess goes undetected by many - in all types of sales positions.  How can we relate this problem to headhunting and account management? Easily.

In Account Management, it would be easy to release your mental pressure if you've acquired a client during the day.  The earlier in the day you do this, the worse the rest of your day will be, prospectively.  Sometimes I've caught myself wanting to release the mental pressure simply because I've had a good conversation.

If I've already got a client base of four or five good, well-managed clients, I might show up to the office with no mental pressure at all to gain new work.  This, I believe, could easily be responsible for the 'flux' that many recruiters feel - where one month is great, and the next bad, and so on.

The same holds true for candidates and headhunters.

Ultimately, paying attention to those tiny mental habits in your mind - every moment you're at work - and learning to 'unlearn' them and work on improving your mental pressure - is sure to see a boost in your profits.

"Stay hungry. Stay foolish." - Steve Jobs 

Simplicity

Few readers will have noticed the drastic change made to this blog today.  I went from a preset template that Blogger offered, to a custom one that was inspired by Zen Habits.

This is much cleaner, simpler, and more peaceful.  There is nothing here to distract you, no 'gadgets' to fiddle with.  It is simply text; you simply absorb it.  You may also notice that comments are no longer enabled.  This decision also mirrors the wisdom of Zenhabits; this blog is in existence to provide education, it is up to you to make use of that education.

This post will have nothing to do with headhunting or recruiting, it is simply one made in celebration of the clean beauty of my new creation. (: Enjoy from here on out; and stay tuned. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

How Often are you on the Phone?

An important lesson that I learned from working door-to-door sales & service was how to play the numbers game.


Specifically, if I was dropped off on a route with 500 houses between all my streets, I would have to make an attempt to hit every house on my route - otherwise, I might be missing out on those homeowners that want to say YES.

Typically in any sales environment, most consultants / salespeople will never achieve a yes / no ratio of more than 1:10.  This is a fixed ratio ... so how do you increase sales?  You do so by increasing the number of houses you go to; the number of calls you make.  You'll still keep that ratio of 1:10 .. but you'll increase your sales by having a 1:10 ratio over 500 calls, not 50.

That's a big difference.

I've taught many consultants the power and importance of this rule - of tracking your calls, and conversations - and showing how it increases your results.  To truly make an impact in your sales numbers, you need to be on the phone as much as possible. The outside sales organization I worked with had a slogan - Run All Day. This wasn't a fancy catchphrase - it was an order.  Those who followed it made more money, because they talked to more people, and increased their prospects.

Being on the phone all day is not possible if you're not prepared.  With outside sales, that part is taken care of for you - all the houses are right in front of you.  When you work in an office, you have to build your neighbourhood, i.e., your call list.

I recommend building a list like this every day for the next day, and the day after that.  Come to the office two hours earlier and have the list ready to go by 8:00 or 9:00.  The difference it makes is tremendous.

Does anyone else have ideas as to how to maximize your effectiveness during the day?  I'd love to see you guys share tips below. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The 5 Chalices Script to Increase Candidate "YES" Calls

One of the things that all recruiters keep an eye on is the number of calls they make, and how effective each call is each time.  Most recruiters have a goal as they gain skills over time to increase the number of calls where their candidate says YES to their opportunity, increasing their daily effectiveness.

I'm going to detail a script that incorporates my "5 Chalices" that should be helpful in increasing the amount of "YES" calls you make. This script seems to work well with candidates that would be required to relocate - so I've made this script a 'relocation' feature as well, that you may omit if not necessary.

You: "Is this Peter Truro?"
Peter: "Yes, it is."
You: Hi Peter. My name is Jesse, and I'm a consultant with a company called Headhunters R' Us in Toronto.
Peter: "Hi Jesse.  What do you do?"
You: "Well, Peter, I'm a consultant there, but I also commonly go by the names 'recruiter' or 'headhunter'.  I'm giving you a call today because there's a client of mine in Vancouver, BC that has tasked me very specifically with helping them find an Applications Engineer - someone with 7+ years of experience working on large-scale projects with LAMP and a B.Sc. in Computer Engineering.  I came across your profile on LinkedIn, and noticed that you've got all of that - so I just wanted to talk with you and see how you were doing at your current company, and whether you might be interested in considering another role."

Peter: "Hmm ... well, I'm really happy at the company I'm with now, I'm not looking for new opportunities - especially not in Vancouver, my family is here in Toronto."

You: "That's fine Peter - most of the people that I call are happy where they are. And what I wanted to do is have a short conversation with you about the different areas of your career where my opportunity might improve on.  There's usually five of them - one which we've already talked about, location - but the others are:
Job, whether you like what you do on a daily basis (and whether you feel challenged enough),
People, whether you like or dislike the people you work with, from your reports to your managers,
Advancement, how quickly - and how well defined - your opportunities for advancement are,
Location, which we have discussed somewhat - and ultimately,  
Money - whether or not you feel you're getting paid what you're worth.

"If we have this discussion, Peter, and we determine that those other four areas - Job, People, Advancement, and Money - are all significantly, or even slightly improved, do you think that might warrant you considering relocating?  Remember, I'm obviously not asking for a commitment - just your consideration."

Peter: "Well, if the job you have improves my career in all of those areas, then yeah, it might be worth considering."

You: "Excellent.  Let's talk about these four other areas - and see if they're stronger than what you're doing right now.  Firstly - bringing all of those four things into your head, Job, People, Advancement, and Money - where would you place your career on a scale of 1 - 100, in terms of how satisfied you are?"

Peter: "Well, I think if I considered all of those things, I might say 60 - 70."

You: "Okay, that's not too bad.  However, if I was to put that on a highschool report card, I'd get either a D+ or a C-.  That's not too great, if you look at it that way."

Peter: Yeah, I suppose you're right."

You: "So what of those four things do you think are the ones you take most issue with right now?"

This type of script works for a few reasons.
1. It focuses the candidate's mind into really thinking about their career, by giving them multiple things to think about - this will lead to more accurate answers.

2. You're giving the candidate multiple reasons to say yes.  One reason to consider a new opportunity is good, two is better - three is usually the tipping point where the candidate does not even question whether or not you might be wasting their time.

3. It shows the candidate your interest in improving their career.  Using this approach is showing the candidate that you are interested first and foremost in making sure that your opportunity is going to be good for them.  This taps into the human being's primal area of motivation - in that a person will only do what they feel is in their best interests. 

4. It increases the likelihood of relocation consideration.  Breaking down the benefits of considering the opportunity highly increases the chances of considering your role over another one in that candidate's city.

Another note: I have a preference to give the candidate the location of the company right upfront, because this ensures there are no surprises there. It brings out the concept of relocation right away, which is a topic that you now can build on.  By giving them the bad news right away, you can lighten their outlook on the conversation as you go, but if you give them all of the strong points of the position, and then tell them where it is - you may be more likely to hear them say no. 

Another note: I've inserted a strong psychological feature at the end of the conversation that highlights a candidate's true satisfaction level with their job, by comparing the number (on a scale of 1 - 100) they give me to a high-school report card.  Nobody likes D's and C's, and highlighting that number in this regard is a strong way to encourage a candidate to keep listening to your role - because now you've given them a good reason to.

Try this script out and see if it makes a change in the amount of YES calls you end up with at the end of the day. :) And let me know what your results are!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Five Chalices of Your Career

I believe that as headhunters / recruiters / HR folk and the like, we can all pretty much agree that in the process of interviewing and hiring candidates, a strong, open form of communication between the company and the candidate is one of the main keys to a happy and successful hire - a hire that, 12 months down the line, the company can still be very glad they made.  Concurrently, bad communication can routinely lead to frustration when hiring new candidates - from the beginning of the process, all the way to the very end, when a candidate suddenly drops out (or worse - is hired, and then quits two weeks in!).

In this regard, and in trying to be a little different from my peers - I make sure that when interviewing candidates (and clients to gain these ideas), I focus on what I call the Five Chalices of Your Career.

This is essentially the five factors that govern how satisfied you are with your career - and the happiest people are at very least extremely happy with at least 2/3 of those factors.  The happiest are usually well-rounded on all five.

Those five factors are Duties, People, Advancement, Proximity, and Money.

Duties: The job you do - on and off your job description.  How satisfied are you with the work you do?  Does it challenge you sufficiently?  Does it serve a purpose higher than yourself?  Do you feel good about it?

People: Do you enjoy working with your colleagues on a daily basis?  Is there a strong level of trust and appreciation between you and the rest of the people in your team / department / company?

Advancement: How quickly can you advance to higher / more senior positions within your company?  Have you been given a specific timeframe, or been told in specific what you have to do and how long you have to do it in order to advance?

Proximity: How close is this position to your house, and how easy / short is your commute?

Money: Ultimately, with the base salary, commission, bonuses, perks and stocks, do you feel that you are being paid what you are worth?

Now, many people believe that money is the most important factor on that list - and it is, but only to a point.  I've seen many candidates slash thirty, forty, or fifty thousand dollars from their salary, just to be employed with a company that is located five or ten minutes from their house. 

Depending on what governs a person's lifestyle, any one of these factors, given the opportunity to be vastly improved, can stir a candidate to consider a new opportunity very heavily.  Even if it's just one.

So recruiters / headhunters and HR Folk: focus on all five of these areas when it comes to building job descriptions, interviewing candidates, and selecting candidates.  Following this model will ultimately lead to better communication, as you're covering all aspects of the candidate's career - and can lead to saving time, attracting a small group of the strongest candidates, and ensuring that the candidates you do find are extremely pleased with the interviewing process and the company post-hire.

Happy Hunting everyone!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

When The Plug Fits The Socket - Perfectly

When I step back and look around, I see things very clearly when I'm given a chance to listen to a new perspective.

I step back and look at my team, and see the reason why they all love working at this company; I similarly see the passion that drives every recruiter, every headhunter, the reason why they all have so much fun in this job.

This reason can be summed up with the word click. Click meaning that everything just clicks.  That things fall together in the places they are supposed to; that everything works out better than you could have expected.

These little clicks, every one of them, are achievements that come only after gaining the experience and knowledge to see what works and what doesn't.

 David Graziano recently gave some advice that clicks to a job-seeker that changed his life.  It's about taking a different approach to interviewing when your approach isn't working - it's about fitting the right plug into the perfect socket, and it just clicks.

The concept is to sell yourself, and once you've done that to the maximum you believe you can, ask these questions: 

1) What are the problems/issues you have run into trying to get the job accomplished currently?

And after they answer and you have some brief discussion, follow up with:

2) What solutions have you attempted to overcome these issues?


These questions put you on a different platform to sell yourself - they effectively allow you to see your target in 20:20 vision.  What does this company need, and how can I solve their problems?  Truthfully, without the answers to that question, an interview can be a lot of firing blindly.

Having the answers to those questions allows you to directly answer their problems with examples of how you have solved them in the past.  This is paramount; this is effective, this is precisely the part of the conversation that ultimately convinces your interviewer to hire you / bring you (with a voracious enthusiasm) to the next step in the hiring process.

As headhunters: How much more effective can our interview process with candidates be if we know the answers to those questions, and can adequately prepare a candidate to ask the questions - but already have the answers prepared?  How much tighter would your interview : placement ratio be?

This type of extreme effectiveness is the difference in value between the recruiters who keep client relationships for many years, and recruiters that just pass on through.

I love it!