Social Recruiting: The Replacement for Cold Calling

By Justin Miller

Article Originally Posted on

A Blog that Caters to the Marketing Aspect of Recruiting

I think it goes without saying that probably the hardest part of the job for recruiters is making cold calls.

Having to make hundreds of calls a day can be a bit daunting on people, especially when only a handful are willing to let you get passed a sentence, and only a handful of those people are willing to work with you on a contingency basis.

It’s a main reason why the turn-over rate is so high amongst recruiting firms; young people with little patience and thin skin. But the cool thing that Biz Stone(Founder of Twitter) Reid
Hoffman (Co-Founder of LinkedIn) and “The King” Mark Zuckerberg (Founder of Facebook) has brought us are avenues in which we can rely less on cold calling, and more on pressure-free conversation.

Sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are quickly over-taking job boards as places where candidates are going to find their next job opportunity. I get the sentiment that candidates now feel sending their resumes to places like Monster and CareerBuilder is akin to sending it into a black hole, often times never even getting emails back to let them know their information was received.

Why is there a growing trend of candidates on social sites?

Quite frankly, it’s not as if candidates joined these sites to begin their job hunt, they were already members to begin with.

Now as opposed to just interacting with family and friends on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn they are able to engage companies they are interested in working for. Yet for whatever reason, a lot of recruiters seem unaware that sites like these are crucial for the direction their business is moving towards. As more and more things like televisions, smart phones,
and tablets include social applications in their design features, so too must our industry.

Social sites encourage conversation and interaction, this can help recruiters avoid cold calls and embrace joining in on the dialogue. Depending on what each recruiter’s specialty may be there is a group on Facebook for it, or a list on Twitter that applies. Being present online and having exposure can benefit recruiters to the point where people will now come to YOU (what a thought!). But it’s important to not just overwhelm people with job ads and constant pitches. Become a trusted source for a topic, gain a reputation as someone who knows what their talking about and I guarantee you will find success.

Quality over Quantity.

Do you currently use social media for recruiting purposes? Does it work?

Comment Below

Views: 542

Comment by Justin Miller on December 2, 2010 at 2:52pm
It's the classic definition of social media Jerry. The standard definition of social media is "Social media uses web-based technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogues." The fact that LinkedIn has user profiles and offers the opportunity to communicate through that space is what makes it social. LinkedIn is no different then Facebook except that it's prefaced as a professional network as opposed to Facebook which is considered a personal network. How you choose to utilize it is different be it sourcing, communicating or background's still considered social media.
Comment by James Todd on December 2, 2010 at 2:59pm
Justin, this was a great thread. Much of what I read on these blog sites are just infomercials, you poked a bunch of people in the eye and what came of it were some great observations on what works and does not work in today's environment. The headline you chose to post on this site got a reaction much like the one my teenaged son received when he walked around downtown Boston in a Yankees cap last summer. We live in North Carolina and he had no idea those kind of passions really existed.
Comment by Jerry Albright on December 2, 2010 at 2:59pm
2nd clarification. I have not mentioned anything about how many years I've somehow survived this industry. I realize others have and that's fine by me. I respect anyone who has kept up with the curveballs we all face in this profession year after year.

As I recall the old-timer stuff came from the author himself. Without going back through this whole thing to pull out quotes (which would be absurd anyway) I do recall pointing out Justin's initial summary (found either in this thread or elsewhere) included his being an "outsider to the recruiting industry" in his own words.

So when someone wants to come here and make blanket statements about a profession which they admittedly have limited experience in - they should be able to handle the feedback. His attitude jumped pretty quickly toward wanting to push this thing over the cliff in my opinion.

Recruitingblogs has its fair share of heated debates. They cause us all to think a little (I hope) and this one is nothing unique. A guy comes on with a sweeping (erroneous) title for his blog and is challenged. I've enjoyed the debate.
Comment by Justin Miller on December 2, 2010 at 3:11pm
That's hilarious Jerry. Your first comment is "Not only can we - but many of us SHOULD ignore the whole social cabal. It's a pipe dream for many who chase it. We use to have an inside joke at the agency I started in - more of a saying actually. "Anything but dial baby!" as in it's always interesting to see just how many people would LOVE to make a living in recruiting - but they just don't want to call anybody."

You not only pushed it over the cliff with that sweeping shot it with a rocket off the cliff.

And yes, for the 5th time...I am someone who did not come up in recruiting, I've admitted every time you've tried to use it against me, but it takes to about day 2 to realize that social media has a place in recruiting...sorry I won't accept that as an argument. And for someone who said "PS - I have no time for this one anymore. It's been fun folks" not even 24 hours seem to be still ingrained in it.

And James...I work here in Boston not too far from Fenway so I'm glad to hear your son is still alive, talk about walking around with a target on your back haha.
Comment by Laura Gluhanich on December 2, 2010 at 3:12pm
I don't respond to cold phone calls. Ever. I am not the only one. I do respond to LinkedIn messages and tweets.

That said, I expect the reality is a mix of both for most people. It isn't a zero-sum game. If you use one or the other solely, then you are certainly missing out on populations of individuals.

Longer term, I see social recruiting replacing email as much as anything, as that seems the medium most people are drowning under. And if social networking in the literal sense helps with signal to noise ratio, it will help with recruiting.
Adam Wiedmer Comment by Adam Wiedmer on December 2, 2010 at 4:02pm
Cold calling works. It's been proven and it still produces hires. Social media works too. I agree with Laura that it should be a mix. You have to do both based on what works. And as candidates are continuously bombarded with media, the phone is still one of the most direct ways of communication that allows recruiters to cut through all the noise.
Comment by Heidi on December 2, 2010 at 5:07pm
Great thread everyone! I really enjoyed it and it was very entertaining. One thing that I have learned as a practicing recruiter both corporate and third party is that you have to keep your options open. One size does not fit all. Positions vary and how you reach your target audience will vary as well.

IT people are online, whereas a Brain Surgeon spends their time in an operating room or a Lawyer spend their time in a Courtroom.

Furthermore, recruiting a customer service representative with a minium of a High School Diploma in Houston, TX will be A LOT different than recruiting a Nuclear Physicist that can speak Greek has an MBA and a Doctors Degree with international clearance to work in rural Kentucky.

This is what recruiting strategy is all about- defining your target market and developing a strategy to recruit them. The strategy can be as simple as posting the job online, developing a referral program, sourcing resumes online through sites such as Linkedin, emailing, making the cold calls or hiring a third party recruiter that specializes in an industry or specific profession.

Good recruiters KNOW there a lot of tools out there but at the end of the day what matters the most is can you find the qualified prospect, make the connection, move them through the process and land the hire?
Comment by Justin Miller on December 2, 2010 at 5:09pm
well said Heidi
Comment by bill josephson on December 2, 2010 at 5:29pm
I'm a 30 year recruiter and resisted posting till now. My approach is 200-250 outgoing calls a day with the goal of speaking with/presenting to 40-50 prospects of which roughly 5-8 are in the right area, a few being referrals and the rest cold calls.

I'm never going to try to tell anyone else how to most effectively recruit but I'll say this. My clients work with me for one sole reason. I find invisible passive candidates they can't access on their own. My recruits typically work long days and reach them after 8 PM at night at home to present my opportunity. They want family time. They may be on LinkedIn but rarely log in to it. They want family time and aren't messing around on the Internet much. They're not twittering. They're often the company's top performers. They're usually astounded I found them. They're incredibly tough to reach.

If one's client want "top performer" candidates they can't find, why would one be looking to socially network when they all have sophisticated inhouse recruiters whose job is to scour the Internet daily looking for candidates? How long will they work with me if I'm duplicating their efforts finding the same candidates? Will they be happy with me if I beat them by 24 hours? And if their T/A Department isn't savvy in scouring the Internet, how long will they or the company be in business?

I'd be wary, as a 3rd party recruiter, recruiting in a similar manner as my client's Talent Acquisition Department. It's a sure fire way to become "obsolete."

That being said if the rookie recruiter, here, can find invisible passive candidates his clients can't find and are willing to pay him a fee for them, who the Hell am I to tell him it can't or shouldn't be done?

That's the name of the game, finding a top performing candidate your client can't find. It's up to each of us to play that game to the best of our respective abilities.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on December 2, 2010 at 5:54pm
Since this has become some sort of debate about age and experience let me offer up a quote here.

"It’s a main reason why the turn-over rate is so high amongst recruiting firms; young people with little patience and thin skin."

This was from the first part of Justin's blog where he postulates that social media is going to replace cold calling. (One of those troll headlines that always elicits major levels of irritation with recruiters who have been around for long enough to make a placement or ten or twenty of fifty or have lost count.)

But let's take a look at Justin's second definitive statement. He states definitively (he seems to take umbrage with definitive statements that disagree with him but seems to make several himself). "It's a main reason why the turn over rate amongest recruiting is so high, young people with little patience and thin skin."

Really, so Justin believes that young people do not have the patience and are too thin skinned to make cold calls so they leave. I would have to disagree with that definitive statement. Having trained a number of baby recruiters as well as old farts who wanted to be recruiters. I will have to take issue with any recruiter being successful if they do not have the patience of Jobe and if they are thin skinned they will fall out even if all they do is flop crap on a social site and become defensive if they piss off some folks.

It's a fine line between stifling the exuberance of an unknowing neophite and having to deal with the sound of people hitting the wall like a lemming going over a cliff because they truly believe in all their excited arrogance of ignorance that they can reinvent the wheel, change the image of an entire industry when they have no idea how it got that way or why, come up with a wonderful idea that nobody ever thought of before. Sometimes they do but most of the time it's being able to give them enouh rope to either hang themselves or figure out there might just might be some reason why successful recruiters (of any age) do things the way they do. And hoping that they will hit the wall hard enough to shut their mouth and give their ears a chance while someone is still willing to talk to them. Even when we get so fucking sick of them we could puke.

I will agree with Justin on one point. The biggest failures i have seen with new recruiters is those who have no patience, are thin skinned, take everything personally, think every client or every candidate is arrogant if that individual does not think they are God's answer to the recruiting solution. So if Justin believes that young people don't have any patience and are too thin skinned to make cold calls are we to understand that he doesn't have much faith in his own generation or are we to embrace the twitterati so they don't get their feelers hurt and can hide in the anonymous world of the internet until they build enough intestinal fortitude to pick up a phone.

Now Justin is not a recruiter and he doesn't pretend to be. He is a marketing guy who is new to recruiting marketing. Here are a couple of thoughts for you Justin.

Most of the recruiting firms in the world do not have 100 recruiters. They are small firms of from one individual to at most on average 10 to 15. They do not have the budget to hire a dedicated marketing person to do nothing but sit on the net blogging, tweeting, posting on facebook and chit chatting with hundreds of folks to drum up candidates who may or may not be worth a flip for anything they have now or in the future. So postulating to 90% of an industry that anything is going to replace cold call recruiting is a sure fire way to use a howitzer to do what a BB gun can accomplish and will elicit exactly the response you have gotten.

Now let's address Justin's definition of social media. He states "classical definition".

The standard definition of social media is "Social media uses web-based technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogues." The fact that LinkedIn has user profiles and offers the opportunity to communicate through that space is what makes it social."

I will in fact agree with that so taking that definition. Let's see, a job board uses technology or at least in my dotty little brain fogged by too many moons, i go online to a website, post a job, i get a resume emailed to me. Now i'm old but i think it takes technology to make an email get to me from monster, then i respond to that email, then i pick up the phone to call that person or they call me from my contact information on that web based technology that i just sent to them. We speak!!!! Voila! interactive dialog. Holy shit..i have utilized Justin,s definition of social media. Would ya look at that Gomer, i have been using social media effectively since , i dunno sometime in 90's. Now let's see ,that candidate was a bomb so i will get on the net and go a google search for some web site, look at the name of the head of pathology, there's that technology thing again. Man that's great, i can even drool in my oatmeal while i do it. Now what should i do, look on twitter and see if the head of pathology is twittering about digging around in Dead Ernest today and follow him for a week or so, see if i can drum up some interesting coversation to have with him and see if i can get him to call me to see how the job market is in Texas. At my age i could be dead and on his table before that happens so what. I seem to remember something from the distant past when i used to do something to make contact with someone in less than several weeks.
Oh hell yes, i will pick up the phone call his office and see if i can have an interactive dialog, opps i missed a step here i didn't use social media. I just called Dr. Deadly. But wait a minute based on the definition of social media i used web based technology to find him so how about that, i may really be a social media GURU since i have been doing that since it took MSN a week or two to add the third server. So there must be a difference in what Justin purports to be social media and what i have been doing since the early 90's. Maybe Linkedin is a free site of profiles just like a job board only job boards aren't free so must be Linkedin. Ok get on the site, run a search, find a profile, send an inmail, response back, pick up the phone and call. Nope did the same thing i do with a resume send in reponse to a posting on a job board so that's must not be the social media that is going to replace the cold call. Gots to be twitter and Facebook or some of those thingys called talent communities where you can hear the wind whistle through the canyon unless there happens to be some perve on there who got kicked off the dating boards.

Not sure how all this web based technology that creates conversation is much different than what i have been doing all these many years but sounds to me like it puts an extra step into what i already do and most of my clients don't want to wait for four weeks for me to build a relationship with somebody before i can talk to them on the phone. I would rather just find a name and give them a call. Sure do hope that social media doesn't replace the cold call it will sure slow down my ability to make a placement next week.

By the way in line with all this there is an article on ERE today entitled "The (broken)Promise of Social Media." It's a good read and of more note take note of the person who wrote it. She's been in the industry for a long time.


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