There's a timeless quality to the classic TV drama, "Perry Mason." But
compared to "Law and Order," the show seems hopelessly out of date.
Not only has color TV replaced black and white; the dialogue has
changed, too. The language is more nuanced, reflecting characters whose
motives, relationships and life situations are infinitely more complex
than those depicted in the 1950s and 60s.
And yet, some things never change. Today's actors still memorize their
lines the night before the camera rolls. They understand that without
faithful adherence to the script, there would be confusion in the story
line and chaos on the set.
Recruiters aren't actors, of course. But we still play an important role
in an increasingly complicated job market. And I've found that the more
our scripts match up with contemporary values, the greater their impact.
For example, if a candidate says he's happy at his current job-and feels
reluctant to explore a new opportunity-you can take his statement at
Or, you can ask the question, "If there was anything you could improve
in your current situation, what would it be?"
Asking an open-ended question like this helps foster dialogue and
demonstrates your interest in the candidate's own career assessment. A
variation on the question might be, "That's great. Can you tell me what
you like the most about your current situation?"
The more you know about the candidate, the better you'll be able to
understand his motivations and satisfy his needs. And the more the
candidate feels comfortable with your role as an advisor-rather than a
sales person-the more likely it is that you'll do business together.
The Evolution of Recruiting
Back in Perry Mason's day, a "soft" response to an objection or concern
was considered weak and ineffective. A typical old-school way a
recruiter would address a candidate's fear of change was more
confrontational: "I see. So you're married to your current job," or, "It
must be nice to be fat and happy."
Such statements might have scored big points when Dwight D. Eisenhower
was president. Today, this type of condescension would border on
badgering the witness.
That's not to say you don't need to gather hard information or get
yes-or-no answers to move things forward. But in today's recruiting
environment, the key to success increasingly depends not so much on how
vigorously you fight, but on the degree to which you listen to what your
candidates are telling you.