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Smart tactics for “Cold Calling” Job Candidates

Imagine you are a recruiter (called Marc) who is trying to cold call a great candidate (called John) for an IT position within your company. Your goal is to get his attention, to find out if he makes a good fit and possibly invite him for an interview which he will be prepared to attend. These are some strategies that will help you to achieve your goals effectively:

  • Do your research beforehand.
    Research John’s (your candidate’s) background, interests and motivations. Try to find out “What drives him?”

  • Be prepared.
    Before calling him have all the relevant information (job description, notes etc.) in front of you.

  • Introduce yourself.
    Once you give John a call provide some short background information about yourself so that he takes you seriously right from the beginning. You could say “Hi John, my name is Marc, I’m the Recruitment Manager of (company xyz). I’m currently looking for a (IT position) with (xyz skills). I’m impressed about your background and your profile on Linkedin caught my immediate attention.”

  • Ask if day and time is right.
    If you are calling him at his workplace he might not be able to speak freely. You can find out by asking “Is this a good time to call you?” If the candidate is not in a position to listen or speak to you, you could leave a message or say "I am currently hiring a (IT position). I f you would like to hear more about this exciting opportunity which offers (mention the best part of the job!) please call me at 000-0000000.”

  • Compare the jobs and highlight the positive features of the new job opportunity.
    If John agrees to talk to you, you can continue by asking “If someone would present you with a job opportunity which is significantly better than the job you currently have, would you be prepared to find out more about it?” If John says “yes”, ask the next question “Are you prepared to compare and discuss your current job with a new opportunity which I would like to present you in more detail after answering me some questions?” If the answer is again “yes” try to find out:

    a)How motivated are you to do the job? Do you enjoy it and consider it as fulfilling?
    b)Do you feel challenged (e.g. by learning new skills, taking on new projects, dealing with more challenging tasks)?
    c)Is there enough room for job growth and further career advancement? How was it in the past and how would it be in the future?
    d)What is the relationship with your HR Manager? Do you feel that your manager helps you to develop yourself and grow?
    e)Do you feel comfortable in your team, do you like working with those people?
    f)Do you think the management and leadership team in your company is doing a good job in making the company successful?
    g)How well do you identify yourself with this company, their products/services, their corporate culture and values?
    h)Do you have the impression that you have all the resources and tools to do the job in the most efficient and effective way?
    i)Do you think that you are being paid the right salary?
    j)On a scale from 1 to 10 how would you rank the company’s work/life balance?

If you are able to get the candidate to answer you these questions, you would gain valuable insights, for example what John feels unhappy about. You would also be in a strong position to convince the candidate that working for your company would be a great move for his career because you know what positive features your company can offer in comparison. Now is your turn to share relevant information about the job and company (position, job responsibilities, team size, culture and values, salary packages etc.) so that it makes perfect sense to John why your job offer is so much more exciting and special than his current job. Remember that every candidate will ask themselves “What do I get out of it?” and if the offer sounds highly attractive every candidate would appreciate an invitation for a job interview hoping to land a better job in the end.

  • Keep networking.
    Now let’s assume that you realise in the middle of the call that John is not suitable for the position or he himself tells you that he is not interested in the job, don’t suddenly stop the conversation. Instead try to find out if he knows someone else in his network who might be a good fit. You could say “Do you know anyone you worked with at previous companies who could be suitable for this job?” It might be likely that John would not volunteer this kind of information without knowing you a bit better. Therefore you could offer him to meet in person in order to establish a more professional relationship. You could say “For me it is crucial to have a great understanding of the IT industry and I would appreciate it if you could share some of your personal insights regarding this sector. John, could we meet for some coffee today or tomorrow?” Meeting the candidate in person (assuming you are not living too far away from each other) might help you in two ways: 1) getting a referral for the job position you are trying to fill (hopefully) and 2) getting to know John who might be a good fit for another job opening at a later stage.

Remember that the way you conduct your conversation with a candidate over the phone will have a direct impact on the outcome of inviting the person for an interview and possible job offer. Consider therefore every call as an opportunity to network and to increase your company’s brand image even if it doesn’t always lead to the desired outcome straight away.

Thanks for reading! If you got any value out of this, I’d really appreciate if you share it.

Karin Schroeck-Singh is a passionate Public Speaker, eBook Author, a Career Blogger at and a freelancing Online Content Producer. She has an MBA from the University of Leicester (UK) and gained 18 years of international work experience in Italy, the UK and India.
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