Headhunting - 10 top tips for making more successful calls

We all want the very best candidates for our shortlists, and having consistent access to these people is one of major issues facing the recruitment market. All our client’s want the best people for their vacancies and as we all know, quite often the best people for these roles are already working.

So, if they’re not sitting on our database, we need to identify the right people and then attract them onto the market. There are of course a few ways to do this, but one of the quickest and easiest methods is to pick up the phone and speak with them directly.

Easier said than done?

Of course, identifying the right people in the first place is not easy, and is a skill set in itself. But, once we have identified the best people to call, why is it that these type of calls can fill an inexperienced consultant with dread.

Surely not because phoning people is tough (you do enough of that) but because for one reason or another, headhunting is seen as a kind of dark art. Something that is practiced in only the most secret of places and companies.

Of course, this is not true. Headhunt calling is really no different to any other kind of cold call that we do, and with a plan and practice they get easier, and you become better at them.

To help you on your way, to take away some of the mystery and to make these calls little easier here are my top 10 tips for making more successful head hunt calls.

Top 10 tips for making more successful headhunt calls

1. Throw away the mystique

As I’ve mentioned, many people hold headhunting out to be some sort of mystical thing, something that is hard to do, in alien territory. They are not. They are simply introduction calls and you should treat them as such.

Start by telling yourself that you are about to make a call just like any other. There is nothing scary or different. In fact, you are about to call someone to discuss something that could really make a difference to their career. If you have identified the right target and your call is appropriate, they will be happy to talk.

2.  Establish your objective

There are generally two key objectives to these kind of calls: to get a meeting on a general basis or to source candidates for a particular search. Be sure of what you are looking to achieve and stick to it.

Set your objective and know what you are going to say.

3. Be prepared

The more knowledge you have about the target you are calling, the more credible you will be. This information is very easy to find, so get on their company website, look them up on linked in and anywhere else there is information about them.

Don’t cut corners or wing it – there is no excuse.

4. Use the people you already know

One of the best sources of information you have on people in the market is the people you already know. Use them wisely to source target information.

For specific roles you should be talking to anyone you think relevant, to gain information, and to improve your target list.

Once someone has given you a name, ask if you can you use their name in the approach. If someone allows you to do this the call is much more powerful: “Anne Jones suggested that I give you a call regarding…..”

5. Always make a positive impact

You have a small window of opportunity to make an impact with the target. Therefore, you need to get their attention in the first few moments of a conversation. It is much easier to make a positive impact if the role of relevance to them.

Nothing is more important that good preparation here. Calling a target with an irrelevant role will do nothing more than make you look amateur. Call, however, with the right role and the target will be all ears!

6. Appeal to their ego

Everyone likes to think that they are well recognised and regarded for what they do. There is nothing wrong with appealing to your targets ego here, and personalising the role just to them. A little flattery, when done well, goes a long way.

“You have been recommended to me as someone I should speak with as a leader in this field…” etc

7. Try and work in some sales hooks

During your research on a target you should try and identify any potential hooks that might exist for that person, e.g. Is their group/department fairly top heavy, meaning that they might be frustrated at their lack of influence.

You would get this into your opening statement to gain their attention further.

“I am calling from an Executive Search firm regarding a Tax Partner role. My client is a well established US law firm that is looking to develop a tax practice in the UK. This is a great opportunity to have a real influence on the development of the function. Etc..”

8. Learn from the call

You may not turn the target into a candidate every time but you can get a number of things from the conversation: a mobile contact number, information on the target/firm/company, what  might interest them in the future, who they could recommend, or an agreement to keep in touch.

Most senior professionals understand the benefits of search firms and professional recruiters generally. If you approach the call correctly they are usually happy to talk and keep in touch.

9. Be confident

Get yourself into a confident state of mind. Not only is this a useful state to be in when making any calls, but will help you get through PA’s to the person you really want to speak with.

Finding the confidence to take on difficult tasks is not something that comes naturally to everyone. It is a skill which can be learned and improved, and there are many business coaches in the market (myself included) who can help you with this.

10. Set a minimum Outcome

Try to get a positive outcome from every call you make. If you set yourself a minimum objective before the call, such as getting a meeting, a further call, or a future call, you will have a much greater level of success.

Remember, as nice as it would be to convert every target you speak with into a candidate, the reality is that this will not happen. But, there is a wealth of information that you can gain, and a lot of great people to make a good impression with.

Contact me

For more on developing yourself or your staff and improving the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at james@impact-recrutiment-training.com, or call me on 07736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @recruit_impact, connect to me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Facebook.

I look forward to speaking soon.

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