Recruiting Passive Candidates in Tough Economic Times
Consider this as a basic truth: in tough economic times every job looks
better, especially the one you already have.
This would imply that during recessions there
are fewer good people actively looking and it’s tougher to get the
best passive consider to even discuss your career opportunity. If
this is the case, one could conclude that the bulk of the people who
are looking during economic downturns tend to be those who are
unemployed or marginally employed.
Since this group does not represent the
best-of-the-best, you’ll need to rethink your entire sourcing
strategy to make sure it’s targeting the people you want to hire.
Now here’s a quick test to determine how well you’re doing: if
you’re seeing less good people than last year using
the same sourcing techniques, stop using them!
However, if you do find a few good people,
regardless of how you’re finding them, expect these candidates to
have more objections and concerns than usual. And the better the
candidate, the more objections the person has. So, if you can’t
smoothly and professionally handle objections, you won’t be placing
many top performers.
Here are some ideas on how to deal with some
common objections. They’re more prevalent with the economy on shaky
ground. The theme behind them all is to reveal very little
information about your assignment until you have a complete
understanding of the candidate’s background. By withholding
information, you’ll gain candidate interest. This is the key to
Handling Common Early Stage Objections
What’s the compensation? When
someone asks, don’t tell! Say, “Before I tell you that, I’d like
you to think about the best jobs you’ve ever held, those that gave
you the most personal satisfaction. Were the reasons they were the
best due to the amount of money you were making or due to the work
you were doing?” (PAUSE and wait for an answer.) “Now, if the job
I’m representing offered you a chance to maximize your personal
satisfaction plus offered a competitive compensation, wouldn’t it
make sense to at least discuss it for 5-10 minutes?” Most people
will say yes.
First, tell me about the job. You
must never tell the person about the job, even the actual title,
until you have conducted a quick work history review. Start the
conversation by asking your prospect if she’d be open to discuss
an opportunity if it were clearly superior to what she’s doing
now. Most people will say yes, then immediately say “Great. Could
you please give me a quick overview of your background, and I’ll
then give you a quick overview of the job. If it seems mutually
interesting we can schedule some time to talk in-depth.” You have
applicant control when the person says yes. You lose it if your
job is less appealing than the one the person has now. By having
the candidate talk first, you can look for potential areas where
your job is bigger. If not, you’ll have developed a relationship
with the candidate that will allow you to ask for referrals.
I’m not interested. If anyone says this,
you’ve violated a fundamental law of recruiting – the candidate
must tell you about their background before you tell them about
the job (see Point 2). To recover from this faux pas, say, “That’s
exactly why you should consider this job.” Just the fact that it’s
illogical helps gain the person’s attention. Follow up by asking,
“Are you aware that you just made a major career decision using
minor information?” Describe a few strategic nuggets about your
job that make it worthy of a short discussion. Something like your
company has just invested in a start-up to exploit a new market
opportunity, so growth should skyrocket over the next few years,
would be a good example of how to get someone to talk a few
I don’t like the company. If your
company is struggling, or has received some bad press, you’ll need
to conduct some preventive PR to offset the recruiting damage.
Describe the impact the person could have in restoring the
company’s image. It’s also possible the company’s reputation is
based on old info, and a turn-around has begun. In this case, make
sure you have some real evidence you can use to offset the
negative beliefs. As you begin these damage-control efforts, make
sure you understand the candidate’s concern and then ask, “If we
can demonstrate that your concerns while true in the past have
been rectified, would you be open to explore an opportunity with
our company?” Of course, then you have to prove your case, but at
least you’re moving the process forward.
I don’t have time to talk. Calmly
say, “Let me rephrase my question then. If the job opportunity I’m
representing is clearly superior to what you’re doing today, would
you have some time later today to discuss it on a very exploratory
basis?” If the person says “no” to your suggestion, something else
is really the issue, not lack of time. It could be you gave away too
much information when you initially described your reason for calling.
I’m happy where I am. When
confronted with a happy camper, say something like, “That’s great.
You’re the first person I spoke with this week who actually said
that to me. Most people nowadays are just hanging around due to
the bad economy. Is this really the situation for you?” Then
dialogue with the person a bit to understand if she is really
happy, or if it was just a brush-off. Then ask, “Under the
possibility that if the situation I’m representing is clearly
superior to your current job on (causes of happiness), would you
at least be open to explore it for a 5-10 minutes.” Then
conduct a mini-work history review as part of the phone screen.
You can’t afford to accept these negative responses without a formal
rebuttal. This is the only way you’ll be able to find enough candidates
to fill your requirements. All good candidates have concerns. It’s the
recruiter’s job to ferret them out and address them properly.
While you won’t overcome them all, you’ll
probably recover at least 50% of the candidates you would have
formerly lost. And if the techniques are done properly you’ll
probably wind up with some great candidates for future assignments
and plenty of referrals for your current ones.