Talent Acquisition

How to Deal with Recruiter Calls, Walking Dead Style

Yes, I am referencing The Walking Dead in terms of this article but not because I’m implying recruiters to be brain eating zombies (I personally detest the taste of brains myself), but rather as a good reference to the use of a few simple questions for validation concerning trust-ability, morality and potential for creating unnecessary havoc or danger for the group.

For those of you who have failed to keep up with the Zombie-Survival focused Drama of this Georgia-based television series, Rick Grimes, the leader of the survivors group the show focuses around requires that before another human being may be allowed to join the survivors group they must answer three simple questions. Though the answers differ from each human being the group encounters, the questions themselves have no right or wrong answers (per say).

The answers and method of response provides enough data necessary for the group to make a rational choice: is the person in question an asset to the group if allowed in? Is the individual trust worthy? And, most importantly, what is the likely potential the individual could cause danger to the group?

This scenario of questions and answers is indicative of the truth that Rick Grimes was quick to learn in the post zombie apocalyptic Georgia landscape: other human beings pose the biggest jeopardy to the well-being and safety of the group’s longevity. Pretty Pessimistic view on humanity, right?

Well thankfully in terms of modern-day recruiters and recruiting practices, neither the threat of being eaten by the living dead or potential for death or physical harm exists. Still, there is always a potential for harm and benefit when it comes down to interactions and working with recruiters in being considered for other job opportunities.

The benefits part has always been very apparent in working with a recruiter: The opportunity for a better job better lifestyle and (we all hope) accumulation of additional resources and formation of a long-term business partner and friend. The harms, however, have become more prominent recently within the last 10 years (or so it seems in the least). Ranging from the lower rated yet equally bothersome circumstances where multiple calls a day on the same job opportunities begin to waste an ever-growing amount of production-possible work time, on up to the ever-feared illusion of a better opportunity that turns into a horrible “Groundhog Day”-type nightmare which becomes apparent only once the individual is rooted down on the inside.

The concept of recruiting and working with a recruiter is, much like every choice in a world of business, a risk vs. reward relationship often necessary for an individual to have the opportunities necessary for a professional to grow and better themselves along their career path. Unlike most business choices or actions, however, very little to no regulation, legal requirements for partnership or professional oversight is available, at least outside of the civil tort breed. Much like Rick Grimes and his group of survivors, both parties must protect themselves…and nobody is coming to help if a fire does begin.

So, taking a page out of the “Rick Grimes Manual of Survival”, in Lieu of law and order, the best way to insure benefit over detriment when one is being engaged by a recruiter(s) is to do as follows:

Politely thank the recruiter for their time, then immediately (in tandem) ask the first of three questions. After each, listen to the answers thoroughly with full attention. Post third question answer, listen to your gut and ask yourself, “W.W.R.G.D?”” That is, “What Would Rick Grimes Do?”

Just kidding! But below is an example exchange example with brief (non-biased) explanations on the three question format response.

How should the conversation play out?

Recruiter: Hello! Hope you are having a good morning; My name is Gabriel Stokes and I’m a recruiter over here at Churchwood Recruiting. I wanted to reach out and discuss potential opportunities I am working on that might be of interest to you. Do you have a few minutes?

Candidate (Question 1): Good morning to you and thank you for reaching out to me this morning, however, for the sake of brevity, I only have a few brief minutes right now for a quick introduction as I have a hard stop (2-5 minutes from current time.). Again, tell me your name and company and, if you don’t mind, how long you’ve been recruiting in the (Field you work in – Ex: IT, Marketing & Sales) space here in (The city you live in)?

This first question has a dual purpose: One, to reaffirm the recruiter’s name, company, and directs a question to verify that he/she focuses in your field of work and your city of residence while likewise requesting to know their experience level as ascertained through years in recruiting (or allows for a brief explanation if there is a variance in Industry/City focus as to the reasoning for contact or other cities the recruiter is wanting to see if you’d relocate to). Conversely, it directly provides the indication of a limited exchange of information on your part for the overall exchange.

Outside of the answers themselves, it allows for a good ol’ Rick Grimes style gut-check: Was the recruiter experienced enough to answer these questions quickly without too much thought? Such typically would be indicative of someone experienced in the exchanges of the recruitment phone call variety. Did they stall or over talk trying to properly explain and/or answer the questions? Such would typically indicate either lack of experience or lack of attention (IE: You might just be a phone call to check off the list on their required outbound call requirements.”

Candidate Question 2: (After the recruiter has ended the answer or had to stop and take a breath) Ah, ok. Well, as I have been working in the (Field you work in) here in (City you live in) for a few years now, I’m always happy to connect with recruiters such as yourself. So, if you don’t mind me asking, where did you come across my professional information?”

When I first began recruiting, this question literally terrified me. Why? The fear of the unknown and inexperienced, and it would seep out of my answer and often sounded like I didn’t believe the truth even as I said it. I would worry about “Would they think I was stalking them?” or second guess myself how I did find their information in the first place. For close to an entire year, this question was the bane of my existence and immediately showed I was a newbie.

Now, this is my favorite question. Why? It gives me the chance to show you just how important you are to me based on your professional history and skill sets or by our mutual acquiesces we can now discuss. Likewise, if I have a specific opportunity in mind it is a great way to showcase the level of detailed work I can and will perform, hopefully to land you your dream job. To be honest, I now love it when I get a chance to say “Oh, I’ve been stalking you Rick… On a professional level since last November when you were at this company and we crossed paths and connected through linkedin.”

If, as often I do, I’m simply reaching out because you caught my eye and I want to begin a relationship, I’m able to give you honest reasoning as to why I am impressed with you and what you’ve accomplished. Win-Win on all sides, and a great way to begin a relationship.

Candidate (Question 3): I see. So tell me, is this call in regards to a permeant opportunity, a contract opportunity, or just for you and I to touch base for potential opportunities in the future?

This question and answer is self-explanatory, really. Do note: To provide all three options will allow for a more respectful and natural response without the need to over explain the opportunity in the remaining about of time.

Finally, this is where you must disseminate the data provided and make your conclusion: Should this recruiter and I continue this conversation in the near future, or should I politely close off the need to continue to reach out and wait for my response?

If the former is your choice and your gut provides a favorable response then wrap up with:

Candidate Choice 1: “Well again, thank you for the conversation, however brief. I’d like to continue this conversation with you once I am more available to talk freely. If you would, would send me your contact information through text message with your contact information to this phone number? Then I will be able to respond with my available times to talk further today/tomorrow/this week.”

Or, if more of a “long-term” relationship (AKA to be germinated later on at a more favorable time in your life) then:

Candidate Choice 2: “Well again, thank you for the conversation, however brief. I’d like to continue this conversation at a more opportune time when I am more available to talk freely and on the market. If you would send me your contact information through email with your contact information?

Of course, this is a fairly open ended (yet polite) way to say “Thanks but no Thanks… least not right now.” Which, at the end of the day, allows for you to choose when reaching back out would be more favorable in your eyes.

Of course, I can (as I’d assume most of you likewise can) foresee deviations where minor adjustments in the course of the conversation off sets this approach to one’s agenda. If any immediately do come to mind, please do comment them below, I’d love to hear them and attempt a potential recourse!

 Author: Will Thompson, J.D., IT/Technology Executive Recruiter in Atlanta, GA 

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