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Strategies for Getting Candidate Cell Numbers

QUESTION: Once I have a solid phone number, I have no problem communicating and developing relationships. My issue is locating cell numbers. Most candidates I have found will respond to text or answer their cells. They no longer seem willing to answer their office phones, return messages, or respond to emails. I work in the construction industry, so many potential candidates are either on a job or in an open office. I use Seek Out to obtain email addresses, but the responses are only about 2%. Any suggestions on how to obtain cell numbers or increase the response rate of my emails? – Joan, MI

ANSWER: Great question, Joan. This is a very common problem that we help our coaching clients navigate. Not having access to your email message it is difficult to suggest an improvement. What I can acknowledge is that is an incredibly low response rate. I would say you need to work on your message if your response rate in email is only 2%.  

My gut feeling with a 2% response rate, and I could be way off, is you are giving them a job posting that sounds like probably the job they already have. You are looking for a project manager and you describe a project manager for things like hospitals, or schools, or whatever.  If you put the description and growing company, it is like, well, that is what I am working for. 

I find, in this market especially where candidates are so tight, it is like fishing. What is going on in your current assignment that is less than perfect? Tell me about what is going on in your current role that is less than perfect, because there is no such thing as a perfect job or a perfect opportunity. It gives them permission to complain a little, and that is the thread I kind of latch onto to develop a bigger kind of career pain, if there is any there. You want to experiment with that in your emails. 

I generally find you have to play with different things with different candidates. Sometimes it is a couple of emails. Some people respond to emails that are a little bit vague. It could be something like the following: 

I have heard really great things about you. I have no idea if you are open to an opportunity that could be potentially stronger than your current situation. Curious as to your thoughts.  Call me at ____.  

One strategy to get cell numbers when you already have an email address, you can use a calendar system like Calendly or Time Trade. At the end of every email or in your email signature, you can say, Click here to set up a quick call. This technique will allow you to begin to gather the best number to reach them, which is usually a cell number. Even better, they are giving that number to you voluntarily.  

In regards to your email or voicemail messaging, I find when you give too much away on the opportunity, they pre-judge and they say, no, I am not interested in that. If you can be a little bit coy and a little bit mysterious to avoid this from happening. That is the purpose of the line: I have no idea what is going on in your career or if you are open to hearing about something potentially stronger than your current situation.

From there inviting them to the conversation with the link to your calendar that says: Click on this link to my calendar and to schedule a quick 5- to 10-minute chat to see if what I have could make sense for you. On your scheduling page, you can say enter your mobile number or the best number to call. Because of the situation, Joan, that you are really describing there, their mobile number is probably going to be the number they use.   

Test a few different emails where you are positioning an opportunity that sounds a lot like the one they already have. 

Thanks for that question.

Photo by Eirik Solheim on Unsplash

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