Whatever You’re Selling, I’m not Buying!

This is exactly what goes through the mind of a passive job seeker when the Headhunter calls to make him/her aware the exciting job opportunity of a lifetime.  Actually this is a defensive reaction whenever anyone truly believes that he/she is being sold.  It could be a product, a service or even their time.  But they sincerely believe that they don’t have a need especially for something that will end up costing them something of value they really don’t want to part with. 

Can you blame them, especially today when people can be so easily found, especially on social networks like LinkedIn?

Let’s get back to the recruitment of the passive job seekers for a moment! 

Clearly he/she does not have a need for another job because they have a job and a very good one indeed.  Most likely, they were recruited into that present job, they had to compete with hundreds of other applicants to get the job offer, they had a lengthy decision making process prior to accepting that job offer, they are receiving positive feedback on their performance, a career path to the next level has been established, they like the people they work with, and a host of other reasons.

Now, here’s the Headhunter, someone they don’t know calling them about a new job.  Why should they care; why should they risk playing games with their livelihood, for something that someone else thinks is good for them.

What they will tell Headhunter is that they are not looking for anything right now, but what they are actually thinking is: “whatever you’re selling, I’m not buying”

I wrote a piece on this subject explaining that passive candidates are apprehensive when approached about a possible job change.  They are skeptical because they are not sure how the job will add value to their career or personal interest.  And a passive candidate most likely will not take the first step until trust has been established with the headhunter.

Here is the most recent trend especially among the younger workers: you are irrelevant if you are not in their network! 

By network, I mean-you are not locked into their mobile phones, you weren’t friended on Facebook and they didn’t add you as a connection on LinkedIn.    Bottom line is-you are a stranger and they don’t trust strangers.  They won’t talk to strangers, especially about sensitive matters that their financial existence depends on.

So picking up the phone and dialing for dollars has been one sure method for generating sales activities, but it’s just not as effective in today’s digital world.  To get positive results from cold calling efforts, you need a strategy.  And one where the phone call is not the entry point to making a sale/placement.

The new entry point today is your on-line profile, blog, website or a social presence’ anything that will answer questions (without your presence) about who you are and that will add value to you as a trusted advisor and an expert in your craft. 

As Tony Montana stated from the movie “Scarface” to get the women-you first need to make the money-money get the power and the power attracts women.  To recruit passive candidates through cold calling-you need to first build credibility.  Credibility is similar to trust; but trust cannot be bought-it has to be earned.   There’s no easy way-you must invest time in building credibility in their Industry to effectively play at a high level in this game, especially today.

Views: 1571

Comment by Tim Spagnola on February 28, 2012 at 9:14am

Good post Ken. Always important to not lose sight of things from the perspective of the other side pf the phone.

Comment by Martina Scheuring Rich on February 28, 2012 at 9:16am

Brilliant call with the Scarface analogy. But, it's very true. 

Comment by bill josephson on February 28, 2012 at 9:20am

Ken, excellent piece.

IMO, the way to build that credibility on a cold call is to be crisp in delivery and knowledgeable about the position and industry.  If talking with Classified workers to be wired into what's going on in the Defense industry.  Same with any industry you're recruiting in.  Any time I pass along inside information to cold called recruits I find they ask for my number or send me invites to be Linked.

Superb insights into what my daily activity is in the world of 200 cold calls a day with a target of speaking with 40-50 people.

Comment by Elise Reynolds on February 28, 2012 at 12:32pm

First, I do think it is important to look at things from a candidates point of view.  I do find I am able to build a certain amount of credibility on the phone.  I am middle aged now and my voice has more gravitas than before.  The problem with cold calls is that people are picking up their phone less and less these days. Nor are they great about returning calls.   So having access to digital forms of communication can give you the advantage. 

Comment by Brian K. Johnston on February 28, 2012 at 1:07pm


"The new entry point today is your on-line profile, blog, website or a social presence’ anything that will answer questions (without your presence) about who you are and that will add value to you as a trusted advisor and an expert in your craft." (1 TRILLION % CORRECT)

Best to ALL, Brian-

Comment by Suresh on February 28, 2012 at 2:41pm

Good one.

These days, if there is no online presence, my first instinct is to be suspicious of the intent when someone contacts me..

Comment by bill josephson on February 28, 2012 at 2:46pm

I'm on LinkedIn and offer people to do a Google Search on me as a courtesy since most of my candidates are classified wanting to be sure I am who I say I am, not in espionage for a foreign country.

I have no web page as anyone finding my web page will also on their own find the companies looking for people being the world I work in is small.  Works fine for me.

Comment by Ken Forrester on February 28, 2012 at 2:55pm

This post is part of my cold calling strategy.  It is posted on my LinkedIn profile.  After I leave a voice mail, I send a connection request.  Most likely they will click the link to see my profile instead of returning my call.  The first thing they will see is the title to this post.  The callback rate on my follow-up calls tends to improve and the they tend be less defensive and more helpful.  

Comment by Raman Ramamurthy on February 29, 2012 at 11:49am

Hi Ken, I like what you said - credibility can through power but power can come through industry knowledge, not necessarily only through money. Website carries enough information about the recruiter, his experience, capability, and of course all these should drive in building trust with a passive seeker/ candidate. well, i like the blog, it is good and eyeopener to many. thanks

Comment by Theus Amuah on February 29, 2012 at 12:42pm

Ken - great article and I agree with and admire your approach. I work for an enterprise social media consultancy in London and we help companies to start and join conversations. It is so much more effective than cold calling or straight emailing. I'm going to reference your blog post on our blog if you don't mind?


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