First I want to say I love the RBC community and have found some really great tips, advice and discussions that have helped me out in my first year of recruiting.

My question to the community is how do you approach cold calling candidates at work?  I would love to hear how others handle it.

Thank you :)


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I cold call candidates at any number I have available. I always tell them who I am and ask if it's a good time for them to talk for a few minutes. If they say no, I get a good time (and other number if preferred by them) to call back. I have only had a very few people seem upset about the call because it was at their work. 

I was taught to create some mystery and begin the call with a question that begs a positive answer.  

e.g. Hi Carly Anne- I heard you walk on water without getting your feet wet.  That true?

or  ; Are you the type of person who likes to hear about opportunities that are potentially stronger than your current one? 

Then you follow with: Let me take some of the mystery out of this call.  

Remind yourself you're doing them a favor by making them aware of opportunities... if they don't see it that way it's far more of a reflection on them than it is on you.

1. Keep it simple!

2. " Dear hiring candidate: I am looking to hire (an accountant) OR (someone within the industry) . "

3. " Can you talk or AT LEAST LISTEN? "  (If "yes" proceed with your short pitch)

4. If they can not do either talk or listen: " I am working on a great me at 555-1212 if you would like to hear more."

MHO: I think people appreciate when you get to the point, and give them some sense of control.

Before you dial for the candidates, make sure you have the job description and related notes in front of you.  It the person isn't interested, ask them for referral.  Also ask permission to send them the job description and your contact information.

If you get their voice mail, leave a message. 

@Amy- I think we must have worked together at some point!  

I have always been careful to be as discreet as possible and as direct as possible.  Telling them "I know you are at work and would rather talk to you about this on your mobile or home"....when they asked me to email them info, I told them 'I dont email job descriptions until I we talk about the details first" then adding "this is how all my candidates work with me".  That last line seemed to cast some spell and either get the call going, the mobile phone number, or a hang up!  

Interesting! Just today one of my "confidential, long-time career / job search (innactive/passive) coaching clients" forwarded me an email they received from an executive search firm representative. They get these inquiries about every month or so, presumably based on their LI profile.

Usually when they send me these things they are expecting me to "investigate and validate" the person's viability / credibility, etc. The recipient is open to legitimate inquiries and opportunities, but tends to get bombarded with lots of less than useful messages from all over the country that aren't relevant to their career interests or geographical preferences. 

In this particular case today, the cold-caller (email) was a researcher from an exec search firm. I took a quick glance at LI and deciphered based on the available info posted, they appeared to be quite junior (25-ish) and judging from the description in their email were not particularly focused on this person and their career level, but perhaps just seeking other industry contacts or referrals. 

Anyway, sent brief text to client that the firm was legit, but the rep a bit green. Later spoke by phone and they told me they just deleted the message and had no desire to deal with that stuff. They were annoyed that the person somehow located their work email and they felt invaded. 

Without going in to specifics I can say that many people (self included) REALLY feel strongly about having this type of communication take place anywhere that might possibly be traced and / or tracked through their current employer. Just something to think about... 

KB @TalentTalks 


Kelly brought up a good point.  I always want my initial contact to be untraceable and I rarely email the person.  We are in a time sensitive business, and email takes too long.  I rather pick up the phone and dial the person.  

Before I dial the person, I always *67 to disable the caller id.  When I got a hold the person, I just give my first name and my title.  I never tell them what company I work for.  That information is for later time.  The initial call is to gauge the person's interest.

Kelly, sounds like you work with some pretty paranoid clients.  Why didn't s/he just delete the message in the first place?

I prefer to keep it simple and to the point.

Start the call with greeting and ask if they can talk for 5 minutes. If the candidate says Yes then let them know about the purpose of your call and get the necessary details. Also, do not forget to take the best time to call them again if required.


Bill - actually I ask people to keep me posted on contacts like this...Kind of a geek I guess and I rely on regular people's experiences/reactions to help guide how I advise others in similar situations. Sometimes we take things for granted that aren't obvious to those less familiar with certain industry practices. 

In this case, I wrote their LI profile (as well as resume, bio, CL) and sort of use their LI profile (with their permission) for experimentation on occasion to see if subtle changes turn up more search results. Since they are open to new positions, but haven't really ever actively looked for work they have lots of questions when these things come their way. 

~KB @TalentTalks 

Bill Schultz said:

Kelly, sounds like you work with some pretty paranoid clients.  Why didn't s/he just delete the message in the first place?


Bill Schultz said:

Kelly, sounds like you work with some pretty paranoid clients.  Why didn't s/he just delete the message in the first place?

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