Pick up the Phone

Posted by Mauri Schwartz

September 12, 2012

Recruit, Phone ScreenSocial media and other recruitment tools have helped recruiters to identify potential candidates and to communicate directly with them, electronically. Yet recruiting is a people business and relationships matter. It may be quicker to communicate online but this sacrifices the human element of the process.  

A successful recruiter uses techniques that combine old fashioned interpersonal relationship building skills with the latest technological tools, cultivating her network by maintaining consistent interaction and finding ways to do something for her contacts, knowing that supporting someone in an endeavor automatically makes that person want to return the favor.   

A recruiter may be amazed at how often someone will give her a few minutes on the phone, even if he has previously ignored her emails. Perhaps the person has been meaning to respond but the messages remain among the other low priority emails sitting unanswered in his inbox.  At least for a few minutes, the recruiter has a captive audience and must use the time wisely…including taking some time for cordial chit chat.

Frequently, when reaching out to a contact just to ask how the person is, one may learn of an opportunity.  Perhaps that person is planning a career move that a recruiter may help with or recommends a friend who is.  On occasion one can hit the jackpot when he says he is hiring and asks for assistance. But even when neither happens, this is still an occasion to catch up, to learn how he is and what is new in his world.  It is important for the recruiter to convey sincerity, to show that she genuinely cares about her contact.  Her voice will do that much better than an email, and with good listening skills, she will be able to gauge the other person’s overall mood and level of interest.

When it comes down to actually interviewing a candidate, one must keep in mind that employers hire candidates based on two criteria and both must exist

  1. They believe the applicant can do the job well, and
  2. They like the person and believe that she will fit comfortably in their organization. 

Even the first criterion is only partially attained electronically.  There is no way the second can be ascertained without direct real-time, two-way communication.  Any recruiter worth her salt makes it her job to screen for personality and cultural fit prior to presenting to the hiring manager. Nothing beats meeting in person, but there is always videoconferencing via Skype. 

At the very least, pick up the phone!  


Mauri Schwartz

Mauri Schwartz is President of Career Insiders, a career management and talent acquisition consulting firm, and is a leading figure in the San Francisco Bay Area career management community.  She is a frequent speaker at conferences, job fairs, and career panels and serves as Adjunct Advisor of Career Services at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley.