It’s become amazingly easy in today’s tech-savvy world to hide behind a computer screen. Instead of playing outside, children are more apt to stare at an iPad, Nook or iPhone. Similarly, instead of trying to engage in meaningful conversation, adults have taken to antisocial tendencies of hiding and avoidance.

In a recent Pew Research Study, 13% of American adults admitted to texting or playing games on their phone to prevent interacting and engagement in social situations.

We’re all guilty of hiding from each other!

Let’s put a stop to this problem, especially in recruiting. With the ongoing buzz about social media, it’s become far too easy to forget about building real relationships. These seemingly simple concepts have gotten lost in translation. Getting back to the basics of genuine conversation can be extremely beneficial in an era where nearly everyone has forgotten how.

Research shows over and over that emotional connections are central to what makes people want to share their stories, engage in conversation, and create a lasting impression. The Mehrabian Formula, an age-old paralinguistic methodology, points out that nearly half of a message from person to person is in the way the words are said, not just what they said. True communication goes beyond the spoken word.

Emotions are hard to convey through tweets, Facebook posts, and LinkedIn Inmails. An electronic message generally cannot reveal a person’s true passions, honesty, receptiveness or integrity. Ask yourself a question – How many times has the receiving party of your text or email misinterpreted the tone/intent of your message?

The magical phone, even in today’s social media craze, allows for a personal and emotional connection. Emotional connections with customers and candidates alike are critical to creating high satisfaction and engagement rates and should be critical for every recruiter. It seems as though in today’s recruiting circles we focus on how to “automate” this connection through social media tools, wishing to remove ourselves from the process more and more.

I had the pleasure of attending a presentation at last year’s Recruiting Trends Conference by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. Hsieh, while a huge proponent of social media, said a key tool in their success is the 100-year-old phone. He called the phone one of the most underutilized resources for most companies, even calling it “one of the best branding devices out there.”

Too many recruiters today try to avoid the phone because they “don’t have time” to build personal and emotional connections with their candidates – in other words, they don’t have time to do their job! Now is the time to stop making excuses and tap into this ignored resource!

Try these conversation methods next time you speak with a candidate:

Have an Introductory Goal

Look at the conversation less as making a deal and more about making a new friend and developing a relationship. People appreciate a genuine attitude and tone, and will be able to better interpret your true intent.

Use Message Structures that Work

Yes, the focus is to get the candidate to contact you back, but you still must be selfless. Keep in mind that it’s not actually about you, it’s about the candidate! Don’t overwhelm them with a lengthy message; keep it succinct and to the point. Don’t put pressure on them, but instead be conversational and allow them to realize you don’t have a hidden agenda.

Evaluate your message – Does it really sound that different than every other recruiter?  Why would the potential candidate call you back and not the 100 other recruiters who called them?

Practice leaving voicemails by yourself before calling. Ask yourself: Would YOU call or email yourself back? Would you really? If the answer is no, practice, practice, practice. Confidence is everything in a message and one of the easiest red flags for a candidate or potential client to sense.

Understand the Benefits of the Conversation

Maybe the candidate is a perfect fit for the opportunity, and maybe they’re not. Regardless, taking time to make conversation is a great opportunity for referrals and pipeline creation for future positions. You’re building a positive brand for yourself and for your company by giving the candidate your fullest attention regardless of whether they’re a perfect fit for the job.

Actually Listen

Listen up! You’ll be shocked at how much insight you’ll gain by actually listening to the candidate instead of waiting for your turn to speak. Be interested and engaged. Of equal importance is being knowledgeable. Gain knowledge about the candidate, the position, and the company. No one wants to hear a recruiter stammer because of lack of details.

Present with Confidence

Ask “What are the next steps in your career?” to gain insight into the candidate’s future plans and whether this opportunity would be a good match. Show genuine interest in their plans for the future, whether they’re set in stone or entirely uncertain.

Once you understand the candidate’s real drivers, you can present the right opportunity for the right reasons!

Remember Who You Are

Remember that the candidate is also interviewing you! Both of you are on the spot and it’s equally important to maintain a professional and knowledgeable demeanor each and every time. Be open about who you are and what your role is. Give an overview of your background. The candidate deserves to know about you just as much as you deserve to know about them.

I embrace the value of social media to help spark conversations with potential clients and candidates; however, the lesson is clear:  Embrace the best available tools and technologies, not just the newest ones, and leverage them all.

A real conversation has proven to be an effective method in your recruiting toolkit – have you forgotten how to use it?


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