I like words. I probably like them too much. I spend a lot of time thinking about words and the meanings they hold. But thinking about words and their impact is not a waste of time for me as a recruiter. So often words, either spoken or written, are all I have in my arsenal as I strive to engage and enthuse.
Recruiting is a muscular word that, for me, evokes an image of reaching out in order to gather. We reach out to prospective candidates. We offer opportunity, impact, value. It is true that some some recruiters have mastered the art of the reach more thoroughly than others, but no one has all the answers in how to accomplish our goal. There is no silver bullet guaranteed to get the attention and gain the interest of a prospective candidate.
Many pixels have died as recruiters vehemently debate the utility of email vs. phone calls. People have strong opinions on this matter as people in recruiting tend to have about everything. We have so many views. I spend a lot of time swimming in the waters of technology recruiting, which is one of the most challenging markets. I work a varied geographic desk. I recruit software developers in San Francisco as well as St. Louis, Seattle, and Cary, NC. My experience teaches me to resist taking a side in the email vs. phone debate. It is a false dichotomy, and one that no longer rings true for my desk.
Fact: Email is a passive medium. People can read emails and not respond.
Fact: Phone calls are more immediate (if you can get someone on the phone).
I recently had an exchange on twitter about this very topic. It got me thinking. If my opportunities are as good as I believe they are, shouldn't I reach out by every means possible to get the word out? I prefer the phone - it is where both nuance in tone and active listening live. The phone is persuasive, seductive. It glistens. However, for those of us who work at it - text on a screen can be very useful. Text, too, can illustrate, enthuse, and educate.
Opinion: Our debate shouldn't be about the medium we use to reach out. We need to worry more about the content of the messages we send - regardless of the method.
If you take some time and read a selection of recruiting emails you will develop a sick feeling in your stomach. But if you listen to the same number of voice mails you would be reaching just as desperately for the pink bottle of relief.
The truth is, most of us stink at what I call the "art of the reach." Partly we don't hold ourselves to a high enough standard in knowing what it is we are seeking. We allow hiring managers to send us off with half baked ideas of roles without pushing back enough to help them formulate a clear success profile. That intelligent push-back is, in my opinion, one of the most valuable services a recruiter can provide. Those actions help us target what the role offers to a prospective candidate. It is the point. If we don't understand the role for which we are recruiting, we can't formulate a compelling message and engage candidates successfully. Our messages - regardless of method - simply contribute to the noise that clutters the employment space, and makes candidates want to vomit on us. The other half of this equation is we don't take a beat and think about who would want the role as we now understand it. We don't take the time to ponder the prospective candidate wanting to hear about this particular opportunity and seek those folks out. The right message targeted to the wrong person still leads to noise, annoyance, failure and nausea.
We can do better. 1). We can charge ourselves to understand that for which we are recruiting more thoroughly - and by doing so we can provide real service and value to our clients. This does require that we know something about that which we recruit. So do that thing. Learn. 2.) We can then take the time to structure, position and send our recruiting messages - whether via email, phone, text, or scribbled on bathroom walls - to the right people so the content works and doesn't embarrass our collective industry. We'll close more deals that way too.
By the way - this is not a abstract discussion to me. These are the principles upon which I stake my own success. Technical recruiting is a crucible within which I constantly up my game in order to feed my family. I know these two action items make a difference. More recruiters need to embrace them.