At the risk of starting a blizzard of spitballs and chewing gum wads, I'm going to bring up a touchy subject. Why the heck not? I never won a popularity contest, was never voted class president (or class anything), and had to invite my own date to my prom. Hell, when I was a kid, even my mother sold my favorite blouse at a garage sale for ten cents.
Ever know when people screen their calls? You just never seem to connect, but the voicemail doesn't pick up right away, or it doesn't do that double ring thing. So you know they're not on another call... How frustrated are you when your call is caught up in that net of solicitors, telemarketers, bill collectors, and other undesirables? Clients do it. Candidates do it. You're in the recruitment biz. Your job is to talk to people. You don't talk, you can't work. Don't they know you're performing a valuable service?
Now turn the tables. Ask yourself. Do I screen my calls?
I bet some of us say yes, and I bet that most of us do it from time to time.
When I was selling recruitment services, the office manager would find me (or a suitable colleague in my stead) to take an incoming call. She did this for everyone in our office because the office policy was that no caller be transferred to voicemail during business hours. When the phone rings, it's the fruits of your labor ripened and ready to be plucked from the other end.
I admit now, however, that I have used voicemail as my personal assistant on occasion. But why? That's the question we must ask ourselves. And, I think getting to the true bottom of that answer can have a profound impact on our bottom line.
In this age of social media and electronic communication, we seem to have become less social and less personally communicative. We tweet this, and message that, and email all day long. Why do we avoid a ringing phone? Maybe we've been beat up so much that our attitudes have changed? When the phone rings we're no longer grandly optimistic? We think it's just another candidate that we can't help? Or, a client telling us they have no budget, or that the position has been filled by another? Maybe it seems like there are more people calling to sell us stuff than to buy stuff from us.
I just finished reading ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain,' by Garth Stein. It's an original and inspiring book and will go on my short list of favorites. The message of the story given by the narrator (a dog!) is this: that which you manifest is before you. Your car goes where your eyes go. Said another way: if you believe it, it becomes your reality.
Wouldn't it be much better to believe that good stuff consistently comes from the other end of that telephone? That on the other end is success, positive feedback, good news, opportunities, fruit ripe for the plucking that I have cultivated. That I have manifested good things. Juicy, sweet, delicious good things. Sugar to my senses.
Instead of thinking of that solicitor as an annoying person who won't go away, try seeing him as a passive candidate - a salesperson you could place or even hire! Or someone who has unique market knowledge about your competitors that she can share if prompted (chances are she's calling them too). Or, someone who can tell you who her recent customers are, with buyers' names and contact information. (Her client references are companies spending money, and if they're investing in her products or services, they may be investing in talent too.)
Instead of thinking it's a call from an objecting client, look at it as an opportunity to educate and convince. What if you could convince him to replace the weakest link on his staff with someone whose total package - inclusive of your fees - is less than what he's currently paying that weak link? That solution actually reduces costs, improves productivity, and maintains headcount.
Instead of thinking it's another unemployed candidate calling for feedback when you have nothing to give them, think again. You have plenty to give (and they have things to give back too). Heck even if you give them some resume writing or interviewing advice, or news from the market, or a recipe for your mother's meatloaf, that's more than they had before. And that goes a long way toward relationship building (especially if it's really good meatloaf). (See my short blog post on Anything Not Worth Doing is Worth Not-Doing Well.) And, what can that candidate give you? The obvious is information on where they've been interviewing and who they've been talking to. But maybe there's more: like referrals, or street-buzz, or useful tips for social networking.
The point is: the car goes where your eyes go. The phone call goes where you take it. Make it go your way. Think positively. Good things come from the other end of the phone. Here's a real-life recent example...
Our technical support department has been proactively calling many of you for feedback and ideas. We rolled out a free add-on for Outlook that turns resumes from email attachments into searchable Outlook contacts. The number of downloads has exceeded our initial expectations. It's been awesome. So now we want to know is that free add-on working for you? Do you have any questions? Do you have any suggestions that could make the tool more useful? Is there any technical support for it that you need? That kind of stuff.
We connected with some of you and got great feedback and ideas. Thank you, you've been wonderful. And, because the call goes where you take it, those calls were mutually productive. We helped many people with their needs unrelated to the Outlook add-on. Things like annoying PC issues that they had been having for months if not years. We've solved PC headaches, like one pertaining to screen resolution; we helped people check and download the latest updates from Microsoft; we coached some on wireless routers, mobile devices and sharing Outlook contacts with colleagues, and more. We made recruiters a lot more productive in the process of our proactive tech support calls. And an increase in productivity makes a positive impact on the bottom line.
Your call goes where you take it. Now take it to the bank. Focus on making every incoming call mutually productive. Teach and learn.
Oh, and if anyone missed our telephone call and prefers electronic interaction, then we welcome your feedback here. And if anyone is wondering what this free Outlook Add-On actually is, then you can check it out here.