In the early 90s, I was a technical recruiter for a new software development company. Back then, waiting for the Solaris Directory to come in to the office made me feel like a kid at Christmas. I would fire up my old Wyse terminal with a Pick OS and begin adding names on the black and white screen. I’d call the number in the directory and hope to avoid administrative assistants. (Yes, this was before voice mail.) I would even try to contact a person by fax.
If I was lucky I would actually get a SunOS 4.1.1 administrator on the phone. Without a directory at my fingertips, I had to pick up the phone and call into companies, skillfully avoiding the gate-keeping receptionist. In the end, it was my job to find talent and convince them that I was not a telemarketer and that I had the job for them. Even with these antiquated methods, I successfully met my hiring goals of 48 external hires of mid-level to senior technical engineers per year.
Along with attending career fairs and placing newspaper ads, this is how recruiters worked in the late 80s and early 90s. This was prior to email using vi editor and OCC (Online Career Center).
Today the process is much more streamlined and technology-driven, but we have lost the personal touch. It’s common for recruiters to find a resume or profile through an online posting, respond with an email, send a questionnaire, and determine if a candidate is a fit based on the responses. A recruiter might evaluate a candidate based on minimum basic qualifications without ever making a phone call.
Call me old-fashioned, but my first thought when I heard this process was, “WHAT?” How does a recruiter get to know candidates without ever speaking to them? I realize that it saves time, but one of the many values that recruiters bring to the process is the ability to bond with candidates, develop a trust, and guide them through the process. Even if a candidate turns out to be unqualified for the position at hand, you might have a job for him in the future. Will candidates remember an email or an informative call from a recruiter?
I have been surprised at the resistance to picking up the phone and making a call. The personal touch can set recruiters apart from their competition. By calling a candidate, recruiters demonstrate that the candidate is worth more than an impersonal email containing a job description and a rate. When you are recruiting for higher-level roles, it’s necessary to take the extra step to show that you value the candidate’s skills and what they could bring to your client or organization. Doing so will improve the candidate experience.
Perhaps I am being nostalgic about the old days of recruiting, but adding a personal touch is a tried-and-true method. Phone calls might take more time but they should improve your hire rates. This will also allow you to build your Rolodex, whether it sits on your desk or exists on LinkedIn. Using technology to find candidates might improve your sourcing time, but making the call makes the difference.
Good luck, and smile and dial!
This post was written by former Seamless Workforce contributor Donna Vespe.