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Reach Out, Reach Out and Touch Someone

I know you thirst for knowledge, your quest to be a strategic recruitmentologist, (yes, the spell check alarm was going whacko with that one) so here is the final medium category under direct recruitment.

We have been looking at the medium group of direct recruitment for the last two issues of “The Human System.” We have looked at the first two subgroups of this; personal referral networks and direct mail. We are now going to go into the third component of this, direct phone recruitment. Remember, anything direct that allows you to go to people not actively looking for another position is better than the rest, way to get the best. Better that rest, way to get the best. Better than rest, way to get the best. (If you went ahead and read that three times, you may have the same rhythm in your mind going with a rap song or chant. This will be the title song to our upcoming CD: “Getting’ a Head of Steam with your Human Team.” Dizzy DHR, and the Retention Fly Guy have agreed to do the vocals.) Ok, am I out of control? That extra cup of coffee will do it to you. Getting back to the serious.

I am going to challenge you here to be very disciplined as we go through this medium. (Doesn’t that sound like a weird thing to say?) Why would I say this? Why would this be a challenge? Listen/Read carefully this next statement. Direct phone recruitment is one of the very best ways to recruit the very best in talent. It is also one of the most underutilized (internally) and misunderstood mediums that exist. It can also be the one with the highest front-end cost. I know I have pointed out the cost vs. investment thing before. I want to give it to you again with a bit of a different twist. Every outlay of financial resources is a cost. However, each cost is going to be higher 1. An expense (you burn the wood and it is consumed and gone, and you get cold again) or 2. An investment (putting insulation in your home, it provides residual value.) Part of the problem is you don’t always s know which you are going to have it is a retrospective evaluation. So, what do you do? You stop and logically and analytically think about what you are doing up front; what the probability of your cost being an expense or an investment, based on pragmatic knowledge, and then make your decision.


Aside du jour: Because it has been a while, I am going to reiterate one of the mantras of “The Human System”. The goal is maximization of the human system. I believe there is a tendency in recruiting, (I hear it all of the time in different ways): a filled position = success. This sounds correct on the surface, but when compared with success = a position filled with the best possible candidate, we have that Einstein theory of relativity thing working. Remember my mental yoga: “Good is good enough, until you know what better is, then good just isn’t good enough anymore.” I feel this is a pint with this medium, that you may discount the value of this medium based on the external practitioners (vultures) that practice it, sell it, and beat your door down every day with the “perfect candidate;” (psychic recruiters). You may well believe based on your experiences that “professional recruiter” is an oxymoron. Whether it is internal or external sources of a direct phone recruitment methodology is a very different conversation. Separate out the fact of the global medium we are evaluating: direct recruitment via the telephone.

Of the mediums available, I have deliberately chosen to save this one until last for many reasons. Some of those we will explore today, others will come in time. This is also a medium, because so many dynamics exist, that I will devote multiple issues to.

What is direct phone recruitment and who is it for? Keeping in line with our 3M’s model of characterizing our target market, defining our message, and delivering via medium, this is contacting our target market with our message via the telephone. Though this could work for any role, it is not practical to assume that you can or should try to do direct phone recruitment for every single job family or organizational level.

There are several things to consider when you are thinking about phone recruitment. Is the research available for me to specifically identify who I am going to be targeting? (name and number). (This isn’t a trip through the white pages starting with “A”.) You need to know who you are calling, what they do, etc. Can I reach these people at work, or at home? Both answers have different dynamic questions that follow. If someone is not in a work setting that readily allows them access to a phone, don’t call them at work. A good rule of thumb here; if they have a voice mailbox, you’re ok. Otherwise, you may consider calling people at home. Whether or not to do that is a deeper set of conversations. I throw it out there as a possibility. You are in a competitive war for talent, be careful what weapons you eliminate that others may use to win.

So, let’s look at our typical dynamic evaluation for phone recruitment.

  • Direct vs. Indirect: There is no more direct method of recruitment than this. It goes specifically to targeted individuals. The good news is that with technology and the standardization of voice mail systems, even if you don’t get directly to the person, you can leave a more complete and personal message on voicemail vs. leaving a written message.

  • How long does it last? This medium is one that is continual. As long as you are making calls, the medium continues on. Thus, it can start or stop at will. It also can be started immediately without downtime.

  • What is the cost of this medium? This can vary significantly. Who is doing it? If you are using internal sources to your organization, there are the costs of human resources, research, etc. If you outsource this medium your costs may be greater, your choices many.

  • Accountability: Dependent upon the internal factors or the external resources you may have either no accountability, or the most accountability of any medium. Because of this dichotomy, we will spend more time dissenting and understanding this dynamic.

  • What should your expectation of this medium be? This depends on the type of position and the type of resource you are using. There are many types of sources for phone recruitment. Overall, you should expect to have a much higher quality set of candidates, based on the fact that you are presenting your message to those individuals that are not actively looking to make a change. You are reaching successful people, taking your message directly to them.


So, if this is such a great medium, why is it not utilized more? Well, there are several reasons for this. Tradition, lack of ability and resources to do it internally, dissatisfaction with external options, cost, lack of understanding of the medium, etc. The list is long and multifaceted. Is it worth it? Many don’t think so, I do. So, we are going to tear this one apart.

I want to rewind once again to the second issue of “The Human System”. Remember the “Everyone is above average phenomenon”? I recently had the opportunity to speak about these principles and value of strategic recruitment to a state healthcare HR organization. I gave them this test/exercise. Do you know that the self-scoring was above the average of 69th percentile? Guess what…everyone can’t be in the 70th percentile. So, as we go through these next issues, learn as much as possible about the different intricacies of phone recruitment and its use. I realize that many people (law of averages) will dismiss or ignore much of what I am talking about. Question success and what it really is in recruitment. Remember: 1. Success is not just a filled position. Success in your recruiting is a position filled with the very best available talent you can get. 2. Effective recruitment is a function of time, quality, and cost. 3. This formula of time, quality, and cost is weighted with different values for each job family and organizational level.

Aside #2: Going back to the risk reward concept of cost, if you do have an external or internal resource that has accountability for successful results, your cost (investment when you have accountability) may be higher, but your risk, based on accountability factors, is actually lower than with other mediums. Again, this is based on being able to hold a medium accountable for a result; something you may or may not feel is a reality. I will delve deeper into this in the future.

I plan on having a lot of fun with these next issues. I hope you will glean as much as possible from them. I intend to give you some unique insights and understandings. I’ll just leave it at that.

Choose to make it a great week!

Don Rottman

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