I have mentioned Seth Godin many times in presentations, training and past writings. His book Purple Cow cemented many of my long held beliefs about relationships and viral recruiting but also shook me to the core of my recruiting being, causing me to aggressively challenge many of my long held beliefs about recruiting.
Today I was reading through some of Seth's recent blog posts and this one, discussing the paradox between frequency of message vs. relevance / personalization / transparency of message, resonated with me. As always I like to give you, in my humble opinion, the money quote:
So this is the dilemma. If the most powerful asset online is permission, the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to the people who want to get them... and the most powerful tool of advertising is repetition and frequency, which the majority of prospects cringe at (but which works) what to do?
I think there are two strategies that are shaping up online.
The first: burn your permission. Every time you have something to sell, either buy enough ads on popular sites to achieve frequency, or just burn out your core base by repeating your message over and over again. At least you'll make enough money to be able to rebuild your audience later.
The second: go easy on the frequency and embrace your audience. Give them what they want (interesting, new stuff) instead of what you need (frequency). Play for the long run.
The relevance of this paradox to recruiting, recruiting calls and leveraging the best talent out of their current situation is significant.
One of the biggest problems with recruiting calls is that they generally all sound the same. If you don't believe me just call up 10 search firms, ask to speak to a recruiter in your industry or discipline and then ask that recruiter to give you their recruiting call pitch/script over the phone. I am very confident you will hear much of the same in terms of tone, buzz words, style and scripting from most of the 10 recruiters you survey. Most will sound like your average telemarketer trying to sell you something.
One of biggest similarities in these calls is that most recruiters pitch themselves, the jobs they are looking to fill and the clients/company they represent (see Seth's post on frequency of message). It is what we call at Bearing Fruit Consulting a Tactical Recruiting Call. There is little or no understanding of the prospects needs, there is a redundant buzz word laden pitch, there is nothing personal about the call, there is little or no transparency, the call is irrelevant to the prospect and the message is incongruent. It is the equivalent of a doctor recommending a cure to a patient without knowing what is wrong with the patient. Heck, not even knowing if the patient is sick in the first place. These recruiting messages are repeated with tremendous frequency in a "more calls equals more jobs filled" approach.
Does this tactic work? Yes, of course it does. But it is also very transactional with little long lasting return on investment. It is a tactical recruiting strategy rather than a strategic one. Using this type of recruiting call a recruiter will have periods of success with equal periods of no success at all. I often hear these recruiters tell me that their business and success is cyclical and dependent on the economic conditions in their marketplace, industry or discipline. All code words for "I am a tactical recruiter".
Again, using Seth Godin's post as a basis, the second option for a recruiter is to deliver a unique recruiting call that will "embrace" the prospect on their terms. At BFC we call this a Strategic Recruiting Call. This type of call will give them what they want and set you apart from most recruiters. The strategic recruiting call is all about them and not about you, your job or your client/company. In fact, a specific job or client/company discussion does not even occur until it can be established that the prospect is positioned for growth, they have what Peter Leffkowitz calls a "valid career wound" and their motive for "considering opportunities that may be significantly better than the one they are in today" rises above just checking out the landscape. Providing a personalized, relevant, transparent and congruent call will lead to a better relationship and more consistent long term success as a recruiter. It is, as Mr. Godin says, a "play for the long run".
The first tactic will line your pocket with cash, tactical success and your positions filled in the short term. The second will line your pocket with cash, establish consistent long term viability as a recruiter and ensure the positions you don't even know about yet get filled efficiently and effectively.
Which type of recruiter do you want to be?