Recruiter (at the end of the first recruiting call): "...would you be interested in hearing about opportunities that might be better than the one you are in today?"
Prospect: "I would be, yes."
Recruiter: "Then my timing is pretty good then isn't it?"
Prospect: "Yeah, I guess it is."
Recruiter: "Great, can I ask you WHY you are open to hearing about new opportunities, why do you think you are well positioned for growth?"
Prospect: "Well, I am always open to hearing about new jobs or interviewing for new jobs"

Stop! Run Away! Don't go any further with this prospect.

No matter how desperate you might be to put a candidate in front of a client or hiring leader and no matter how strong this prospects background and skills might be you MUST push this person away when they say some version of "I am always open".

This response is the car buying equivalent of kicking tires and they are entertaining calls from every recruiter and every job opportunity that calls. Sort of like the town prostitute really. Their motivation for making a change is not valid and will lead to major problems for you later in the process. You don't have time to waste on prospects like this and you must push them away or establish control. Here is one way to do that:

Recommended Response:
"I can appreciate your desire to stay open to new situations but the clients we represent are interested in hiring the very best talent who are properly motivated to make a change because they are uniquely positioned for growth and can't find that in their current organization. Here is my contact information and, if your situation changes or your motivation for staying open to new opportunities changes please give me a call."

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You beat me to it Sandra. Sorry Michael - I hope you don't mind me playing devil's advocate here. I like what you've been bringing to the table so hopefully we can stay tight after this discussion! (smileyface icon)

We've all been through "Lightweight Petey's" training. Unfortunately only a small, small percentage can pull off some of this crap with the swagger he has. So the others end up just looking like a brand new sales guy with a ballsy script in front of them. So let's just see what we CAN do with this.

I'm afraid that many recruiters have been convincing every candidate they meet that they MUST always be open to "positions that are potentially stronger than their current role" such as one might learn at the Pony Ranch in Missouri. In fact I firmly believe we all should. So we can't very well lead a candidate to saying exactly that then punch them in the face, can we? That's not fair.

How about we go ahead and work this conversation one more step and see what we can do with it?

Prospect: "Well, I am always open to hearing about new jobs or interviewing for new jobs"
Recruiter "Great. Most professionals are well-advised to stay in the loop with anything that may help them move ahead. What, specifically, are you hoping to hear about?"

This is a way to narrow down and further define "What exactly do you want to make sure you DO hear about if I come across it" and most often times then begins THE REAL discussion of the persons career factors.

Respectfully,
Jerry - Pete's Class of '92
Of course I don't mind the devil's advocate or people who disagree. In fact, I love it! That is how we all get better and learn.

I don't know if I would call him "lightweight Petey" but I guess his training made me alot of money and earned me alot of respect from clients and candidates so I dig it. Everyone has their "methodology" they subscribe to and mentors they attribute their success to and some aren't fans of his.

Without question it takes swagger to pull off ANY script, this one included, but that in and of itself shouldn't render it void.

I guess I wasn't clear enough or detailed in what I recommend a recruiter says to a prospect. When I ask "why are you open and why are you positioned for growth..." that is the question to uncover the "hot button". Or as "lightweight Petey" (JA's name for him : ) would say "career wound". I am not going to lead him to water with a question like "what are your hot buttons" because "tire kickers" are ready for that and conditioned how to respond with a list of pat reasons and overused phrases. Asking someone "WHY" causes them to move off of listing things and on to actionable reasons and motivating factors. This is where the core of the person exists and it allows me, the recruiter responsible to put the right person with my client (who pays my fee), to properly assess their reasons and willingness to move. I can decide whether or not to work with them based on this response.

When they say "yes, I am open to hearing about new opportunities...." and exhibit buy signs it is not a slap in the face to ask them why and make them prove it. It is not a car they are buying it is a job with my client and I have to be convinced of their readiness and suitablity to the role. It is the logical next question to ask why and probe. As I think we all agree, people evaluate us based on the questions we ask not the answers we provide and asking WHY is the right question to uncover motivation and reasons for staying open. The really good candidates get this and rise to the top under the scrutiny. The average and below average do not.

I will also disagree that my job is to light the fire. If there isn't a fire already I don't want to be the one to light it only to have the fire go out or have to breathe life back into it when it all gets too real for the candidate. If they aren't internally motivated then nothing I am going to do will get them to closing without me being left holding the bag. Having to constantly stoke their fire takes up valuable time and distracts me from candidates whose readiness and ability to make a change is much higher.

If a candidate has nothing else to say but "i am always open" you have to move on.

I agree with both of you (Sandra and Jerry) that you have to uncover the motivation and understand what they might be open to hearing about but when asked those questions properly and the response is still "I am keeping my options open..." or "I am willing to hear about other opportunities..." without clearly articulating (without being led) what those might look like or having a valid and proper motivation to consider a move you have to be able and ready to move past them and on to someone whose readiness is greater and reason to make a change more clear.

Now that I have disagreed with you both, at least a little, let me just say this is some of the best conversation going on in our space today because it is the real job. It is about what we really do and how to do it better. Newbie and junior recruiters don't get this when they hang out and pay ridiculous coin to go to the big recruiting conferences where people who haven't picked up a phone since the Reagan administration (the first one) are pontificating on strategy and tactics that no longer work.

Warmest regards,
Michael
Pete's Class of 94' (or was it 95') - I don't know, I drank too much Tequila!
Okay....I'm not a TPR............never have been, have always been on the corporate side of life which according to Sandra is a terrible job.....but that's satire and I truly knows that she's just very, very jealous of me! Hah!

Anyway.......sorry to segway.............but from the other side of the fence, just about every job change I have made in my 30 year career was because of a phone call from a TPR who wanted to know if I was interested in making a job change. I was never interested in making the job change when they actually called me, but I always did make the change except for one time. And the real reason I was interested was because there was already an established relationship between me and the TPR because they took the time previously to get to know me, or my casual curiosity became serious curiosity because they also took the time to find out just "what else" I might be interested in as a career step or company change. Sometimes the jobs were of interest, and other times they were not. All I can tell you is this. There is a TPR in Seattle who has placed me 3 different times over a 10 year period of time because I was casually interested, but what she had to sell met my value system at that time and my casual first interview to kick the tires so to speak turned out to be bonefide job changes. So there you go. Don't judge a book by it's cover. I learned that in retail a long, long time ago. The person who appears to be homeless, or is poorly dressed is often times the person who drops tons of money on "new stuff" because they can. They just didn't look like they could. It's always nice to be surprised by life. If we're not, then what's the point?
Interesting perspective. Thank you Peter. Can you clarify one point though - has this same recruiter been "recruiting" you from the places she has placed you?

Peter Ceccarelli said:
Okay....I'm not a TPR............never have been, have always been on the corporate side of life which according to Sandra is a terrible job.....but that's satire and I truly knows that she's just very, very jealous of me! Hah!

Anyway.......sorry to segway.............but from the other side of the fence, just about every job change I have made in my 30 year career was because of a phone call from a TPR who wanted to know if I was interested in making a job change. I was never interested in making the job change when they actually called me, but I always did make the change except for one time. And the real reason I was interested was because there was already an established relationship between me and the TPR because they took the time previously to get to know me, or my casual curiosity became serious curiosity because they also took the time to find out just "what else" I might be interested in as a career step or company change. Sometimes the jobs were of interest, and other times they were not. All I can tell you is this. There is a TPR in Seattle who has placed me 3 different times over a 10 year period of time because I was casually interested, but what she had to sell met my value system at that time and my casual first interview to kick the tires so to speak turned out to be bonefide job changes. So there you go. Don't judge a book by it's cover. I learned that in retail a long, long time ago. The person who appears to be homeless, or is poorly dressed is often times the person who drops tons of money on "new stuff" because they can. They just didn't look like they could. It's always nice to be surprised by life. If we're not, then what's the point?
Drilling a stranger as to "why this or why that" so early in the process prompts defensive and / or non committal responses like " I'm always open to listening"..

If prospective candidates call the recruiter, it's ok to bluntly ask them " why this or why that"...active candidates are always so eager to share..but...if the recruiter is the one initiating contact, it's better to draw them out with questions designed to paint a picture of their ideal opportunity..if they feel you're all about them, they'll drop their guard and you'll know the "why" soon enough.

the first call isn't the time to issue edicts, IMHO..HOWEVER, When I call the candidate back with a lead on an opportunity that fits his wish list, I give them the standard speech - I tell them that I have brought them what they said they wanted.. and then I ask, are you serious about going forward, because If you guys like each other, I expect you to pursue this, and i've been known to recommend my candidates not be considered any longer if they turn into uncooperative moonbats...is there anything stopping you from working this way ?

right then and there, I either get the green light and enthusiasm, or we stop dead in our tracks for whatever reason. .

My view is, the blunt questions come out when we have a real opportunity to discuss..if i'm just talking hypotheticals with a prospective candidate, I'm certainly not going to judge the guy on how he responds to a person ( me) that he doesn't know, demanding he be serious about a client I don't yet have.

BTW, I liked Pete Lefkowitz, and learned a lot from his materials..I just think there's a time and place for everything.
No she hasn't. She recruited me from places other recruiters placed me in, or my personal network opened a career door for. I also believe being plugged into your network (like maintaining a good relationship with your TPR) is key to job changes. I've never responded to a posting as a way to get a job. They have always come my way through my network or a TPR. But now as I "age" unfortunately, that could change. There is a ton of age discrimination out there and we all know that to be true.

Jerry Albright said:
Interesting perspective. Thank you Peter. Can you clarify one point though - has this same recruiter been "recruiting" you from the places she has placed you?

Peter Ceccarelli said:
Okay....I'm not a TPR............never have been, have always been on the corporate side of life which according to Sandra is a terrible job.....but that's satire and I truly knows that she's just very, very jealous of me! Hah!

Anyway.......sorry to segway.............but from the other side of the fence, just about every job change I have made in my 30 year career was because of a phone call from a TPR who wanted to know if I was interested in making a job change. I was never interested in making the job change when they actually called me, but I always did make the change except for one time. And the real reason I was interested was because there was already an established relationship between me and the TPR because they took the time previously to get to know me, or my casual curiosity became serious curiosity because they also took the time to find out just "what else" I might be interested in as a career step or company change. Sometimes the jobs were of interest, and other times they were not. All I can tell you is this. There is a TPR in Seattle who has placed me 3 different times over a 10 year period of time because I was casually interested, but what she had to sell met my value system at that time and my casual first interview to kick the tires so to speak turned out to be bonefide job changes. So there you go. Don't judge a book by it's cover. I learned that in retail a long, long time ago. The person who appears to be homeless, or is poorly dressed is often times the person who drops tons of money on "new stuff" because they can. They just didn't look like they could. It's always nice to be surprised by life. If we're not, then what's the point?
There is a ton of age discrimination out there and we all know that to be true.
Interesting discussion fodder. Lookie here.
I am not sure I agree with the run away strategy. I like to talk to those that are always interested in looking for the assignment I am working on may just be the one they fit for. before I turn and walk away I want to know more about them, look over their resume, see if they might be a fit for the client. If I were only about shooting resumes to clients and hoping they stick then who knows. Since this is a hypothetical first call, "trade paper" get the resume send the information about the client and then see if there is truly an interest if not you still have a resume for your data base and possible candidate for the next assignment.

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