Your Voice – It’s All You’ve Got

Ours is an astonishing business – truly “virtual.” We seldom ever meet a client or a candidate. Using just the phone and email we provide a service for which we are well paid. However, that places a tremendous amount of importance on something that we take completely for granted – the voice. After all, we have been talking almost since birth so we must be good at it, right? It might be worth pausing for a moment to ask “how much is my tone of voice affecting my recruiting success?”

Communication gurus tell us that 60% of communication is body language (that’s a problem, unless you are video conferencing with candidates), 30% is tone of voice, and 10% is the actual content of what is said. That leaves us, as recruiters, with only the tone of voice to get our message across. Which brings me to the important point: Have you listened to yourself lately?

I recently took a voice exam with Executive Voice Coach, Sandra McKnight. She told me to “slow down and pay more attention to final consonants!“ I often fall to be mindful on the phone because I have a lot to get done.

May I make a few suggestions for improving the quality of your voice on the phone?

  • Slow down when you speak. We talk faster when we are nervous or when we feel like we are intruding. You will “sound” more confident and be more authoritative if you speak slowly and deliberately
  • Provide good breath support. Recruiting coaches often recommend that recruiters learn to do public speaking because (correctly taught) it improves proper breath support. This means: sit up straight and speak from your diaphragm.
  • Find your best speaking range. This is best done with a piano (go ahead, visit the Steinway store!). By singing along with the notes, find the top and bottom of your singing voice range. Then figure out what is dead center within your range – that is your optimum speaking voice. It is almost always lower than your normal default tone.
  • Think before you speak. Does the person on the other end hear a warm, relaxed, cheerful smile – or an uptight, in a hurry to make a buck, recruiter? It is sometimes recommended that you have a mirror in front of you so you can “see” what your voice sounds like.
  • Be Happy! In a 2020 Forbes article, “ The Power of Connection Through Voice,” Andrea Luomas states ,“Hearing happiness in the voice of another makes us pay more attention than hearing happiness in your own voice.” Happiness affects your voice and your listener.

For more help on this topic visit these links to articles written by communication expert, Judith Filek, President of Impact Communications:

Seven Deadly Referral Mistakes

The Lazy Recruiter’s Sourcing Strategy

A veteran foundryman I once worked with used to say, “Hire the laziest person to do a job, and he will find the easiest way to do it.” Early in their careers, every recruiter looks for an easier way to source candidates (anything but cold calling)—usually in a way that shortcuts their personal development process.

But if you want to know the secret shortcut to sourcing, master the skill of getting and using referrals. The close rate for referrals (securing loyalty and making placements) is three times as high as that of originally-sourced candidates. But you must learn to avoid these mistakes:

  1. Lack of Commitment to Obtaining Referrals – Getting referrals has to become second nature. You must become a student of the game and make it part of your routine conversation with candidates and clients. If you want to vary your pitch for cold calling and get referrals at the same time try this on for size: “Greetings Jane. I’m hunting for vocationally-driven pharmacists, focused on patient care, and enormously committed to advancing in their career. So I am calling everyone in your market in search of the top ten pharmacists who reflect those values. I wonder if you know someone you could recommend?”
  2. Making Referrals All about You – If you see getting referrals as self-serving you will be uncomfortable asking for them. But if you believe in what you do and the value you bring then make it all about that value and extending it to others.
  3. Forgetting to Ask – If you are making client calls, always ask “what is the word on the street, who is hiring? Do you know anybody over there that I could talk to?” When checking references, always end with “I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about your situation. When did you last consider other options?”
  4. Not Being Referrable—Being referrable is about the process, not a product, and it includes impeccable service, added value (if you don’t continually add value, you are no longer necessary), and fun (people do business with people they like).
  5. Thinking Great Service Alone Is Enough – Great service alone does not lead to automatic referrals. You still have to ask. You can read a testimonial from a client, Diane Jones, on our website. I got the testimonial because I asked for it and got referred to Diane’s boss (to expand our service to their national network) because I asked Diane if she could and would recommend us. She said “Yes” and did so.
  6. Letting Your Fear Get in the Way—People genuinely like helping people who have helped them and are eager to do so. Recently, a candidate who was turned down for a job he wanted nevertheless recommended us to a friend who was interviewed and offered the job he couldn’t land.
  7. Not Using a Systematic Approach – Try this three-step process: (1) Constantly teach people how to give you a referral, including pointing out the referral button at the bottom of your email, (2) Make it a part of your daily routine or company culture, (3) End every conversation by asking for a referral.

And here’s another tip. Why not add this at the bottom of your email signature: “Everyone is talking about our company and the highest compliment you can give me is an introduction to someone you care about.”

I always remind candidates on the phone: , “There is a referral bonus available. It’s worth a phone call. We’ll buy your spring wardrobe.”

Think Like a Gambler! – Game Theory & Recruiting

Game theory is all about what can be done to increase the odds of a win. In poker, this is usually achieved by card counting. The more cards exposed, the better you know the likelihood that your hand is a win. In other words, it is important to consider what will impact the likelihood of an event occurring. Recruiters who want to reduce the uncertainty of the recruiting process and their income need to learn to think like a professional gambler.

Sometimes, game theory is counterintuitive.

Renowned gambler Matthew Benham met human performance researcher and author Ramus Ankerson one day in London. They began talking, of course, about football (soccer). Ankerson had just acquired the Brentford Football Club and invited Benham to help him run it. They applied game theory to football.1

They theorized that because soccer is one of the world’s unfairest sports in that the win/loss outcome of a game is no accurate measure of the actual performance of the team, there must be a better way to evaluate teams than the Team Table. Using SmartOdds, in-depth quantitative and qualitative research and analysis, they focused on developing a team capable of creating more opportunities for goals (higher probability) rather than star players. As a result, the Brentwood team has won several division titles in spite of being a much less-well-funded team.

“From a professional gambler’s perspective the key to placing a good bet is to continually update your position with relevant insights that impact the probability of an event occurring. Rather than trying to be right; gamblers try to less wrong with time.” – Mike Walsh, The Algorithmic Leader

Recruiters need to develop a probabilistic mindset by focusing on ways to manage the variables of the process to increase the likelihood of a hire.

Here are some examples:

  • Increase the number of qualified candidates recruited – Recruiting is much like investing in startups. Venture capitalists look for 10x returns on their money, which sounds greedy until you realize that investing in startups is risky and many don’t work out as expected. Typically, only a third of startups end up providing a return.. In recruiting, we talk about the rule of three – three qualified candidates for each position. This increases the likelihood of a hire.
  • Close candidates properly—Candidates who have not been ‘closed’ on compensation, schedule, position duties, start date, relocation impediments, competing job offers, etc., will likely blow up the deal in the 11th hour. We refer to these as IEDs (improvised explosive devices), and they are best removed before a march to the battlefield, i.e., the submission.
  • Sell the Timeline—Although it is not a strong sales point, we need to screen all candidates for a 30-day hiring timeline since we often lose candidates due to the protracted timeline. The second important game-changer here is what we refer to as “keeping the bread warm,” strategically staying in touch throughout the process.
  • Pay attention to where your leads come from. Not all leads are created equal, and you will discover that some sources are better than others, but only if you track this. By focusing on the best leads, you can increase the number of qualified candidates and reduce the time necessary to land them.

You can only deal with the uncertainty of the recruiting business if you embrace probabilistic thinking. We tend to look at the world in black and white: things that can be planned and managed and are therefore certain and those that are completely unpredictable. By managing the variables, we can dramatically improve the outcome of seemingly unpredictable events.

Think like a gambler!

1 Brentford’s Moneyball Way To Beat Football Teams With Huge Budgets

Metrics – Not “Just” a Numbers Game

Recruiting is all about being in the right place at the right time. Of course, to be in the right place at the right time, you have to be in a lot of places all the time. So, every recruiter worth their salt is very aware of how many calls they must make to put enough candidates in the pipeline to expect a certain level of return. In our office, a hundred calls generally nets 8-12 potential candidates.

But it is not just about the number of calls. According to Skip Miller in Knock Your Socks Off Prospecting, success depends on several factors. He suggests that our metric for successful cold calling should include at least three elements:

  • Number of Calls or emails where we actually connected with someone or receive a response
  • Talk Time – There is a direct correlation between time on the call and successful conversion (1-3 mins is normal, 3-7 is good, 8+ minutes = high dollar)
  • Next Step Calls – Where a real conversation occurs, agreement is secured from the candidate for taking the next steps, and the candidate meets the agreed upon goals. This is the Principle of Verbal Agreement – People are more likely to comply if they have verbally agreed.

So, be sure to give your candidates homework before you get off the call – one simple assignment (send me a resume, send me a reference, etc…) Then set a date to reconnect. Your success rate will go way up.