Best Practices for New Recruiters in Gathering Candidate Names

What question technique are you finding is best for new recruiters to obtain leads from candidates? – Chuck, Pittsburgh, PA

ANSWER: That is a great question. Here is how I used to look at it. I hated name gathering, even in the pre-LinkedIn days. It was always a pain in the butt. I do not want to call. I was never the type of guy that would go, well, I found a business card, I met a guy who gave me his business card and then it got run over, and I can only see his first name. It is John, but I think he was the sales rep in your Pittsburgh office. You know, the stuff we were taught.  

I used Peter Leffkowitz’s recruiting technique of saying “I have no idea what is going on in your career” with my new recruiters. It is a very consultative approach to the candidate and not pitching a job at them. My goal was, with every candidate I talked to, to get 3 names and the contact information.  

Did it work all the time? Of course not. Sometimes I got none. Sometimes I got 5. Sometimes I got 1, but I went in with an intention of 3. So I would say, “Chuck, obviously, the timing of my call for you in this opportunity is not the right one right now.”  When I said that, basically I am giving an indicator that I am leaving the phone call. So the candidate in their mind has gone, ok, Mike stopped selling.  

So I would say, “Chuck, who do you know [NOT, do you know?] that excels in the role of salesperson of widgets in the greater Pittsburgh marketplace?” And I give him some places to look, not just (1) the greater Pittsburgh marketplace, (2) maybe it is somebody you used to work with at another company? Especially, maybe you have a little bit of a datasheet on him, 2 years ago you were at ABC Company. “Is there anyone over at ABC that you liked? The deal, Chuck, is I know they are probably not looking.”  

I say that I know they are probably not looking, because the candidate is thinking, I do not know if Joe over at ABC is looking. What I have learned in this marketplace is the person I am going to ultimately place is a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend.  

The conversation proceeds very much like this: 

So who do you know?  

I cannot think of anybody.  

Let me ask you, Chuck, is there anything that I have done on this call where I did not come across as trustworthy. I mean, I think we had a great conversation and we came to the conclusion without me pushing you that this was the wrong opportunity. Was I at all pushy?  

Well, no.  

When I am hearing you do not know anyone, I am hearing you do not trust me. All I am going to do, Chuck, is extend the same courtesy someone extended to you, to those other people in the same structured conversation where I am going to approach them, I am have no idea what is going on in your career. I just heard some really good things about you from someone else.  

And I push because if you get them to give 1, they will give 2 or 3. Sometimes they will give 4 or 5.  Then I will say, “it might be a compliment if I use your name.  I am completely okay leaving your name out. Which do you prefer?”  

Again, no matter how hard you push, sometimes it is not going to work. It works probably half the time, which is why I set a goal of 3. In theory, if you set a goal of 3 and it works half the time and you get at least 1 or 2 on average, 1 and a ½ is probably what I got on average, if I talk to 50 people and it works half the time and I get 1 and ½ on average, 50 people yield me 37 more names. I almost never run out of names just be being persisted in the referral process.  

That is a really, really good question.

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