If you’ve been a recruiter for any length of time, you’ve already encountered an avalanche of objections. If you’re considering becoming a recruiter, than prepare yourself for an avalanche of objections. Overcoming objections in recruitment is a necessity for any search consultant who yearns for success.
That’s because objections in the profession are inevitable. They’re like death and taxes . . . and the New England Patriots playing in the AFC Championship Game.
As with other skills and competencies, overcoming objections in recruiting can be learned. And over time, a recruiter can become better at overcoming them. Practice makes perfect. (Although don’t fool yourself: there’s nobody who’s perfect at overcoming objections.
Recruiting objections: candidate vs. hiring manager
Recruiting is a sales profession. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult of the sales professions. That’s because there are people at both ends of the sale. And as we all know, people can be finicky. On one end of the sale, you have the client (represented by the hiring manager). On the other end, you have the candidate or job seeker.
So if there are people on both ends of the sale and people can be finicky, then you can expect objections from both groups of people. So yes, you can fully expect both candidate objections in recruitment and hiring manager objections, as well. Sometimes the objections of both groups are similar in nature, and sometimes they’re different.
However, in most cases, the goal of the objections is exactly the same: to get off the phone!
And if the candidate or hiring manager is able to get off the phone without the recruiter getting something of value, then the recruiter loses.
We’ve already established that recruiting is a sales profession. And since it’s a sales profession, there are objections flying in every direction. As a recruiter, it’s your job to be proficient in objection handling. But what is recruitment objection handling?
Objection handling is a sales person’s ability to effectively handle and also manage the objections of their prospects in such a way as to not just overcome those objections, but also to use them to further steer the conversation in the direction that the sales person wants it to go.
So for our purposes, just change the words “sales person” in the above sentence to “recruiter.” Recruitment objection handling is one of a search consultant’s most important skills. The better you are when it comes to overcoming objections in recruitment, the more successful you’ll be.
When a recruiter talks to a candidate, they will sometimes object to what the recruiter is saying in an attempt to get off the phone.
When a recruiter talks with a hiring manager, they will sometimes object to what the recruiter is saying in an attempt to get off the phone.
Let’s explore what recruiters can do in each of these situations.
Candidate objections in recruitment
When it comes to candidate objections in recruitment, there are two types. That’s because there are active job seekers and there are passive candidates. Recruiting active job seekers is different than recruiting passive candidates. In fact, search consultants recruit passive candidates far more than they recruit active job seekers. The reason: active job seekers typically do not have to be recruited. They’re already motivated to look for a new job.
So what does that mean, for the purposes of this discussion? It means a few things:
· A recruiter is more likely to deal with a passive candidate than an active job seeker.
· A passive candidate is more likely to give a recruiter an objection than an active job seeker.
· It’s still possible for a recruiter to both work with an active job seeker and to have that job seeker give them an objection.
Since a recruiter is more likely to deal with a passive candidate and passive candidates present more objections, let’s address that situation. That’s the one in which recruiters find themselves most often. Above all else, no matter what happens, you want to end the phone call with something of value. Overcoming objections in recruitment is much like a war of attrition.
There are multiple levels of success, and they’re ranked in descending order. If you can’t achieve the most successful outcome, then you try to achieve the second-most successful. If you can’t achieve the second-most successful, then you try for the third-most successful. And so on and so forth.
So what’s the passive candidate objection? The fact that they’re not actively looking for a new job. Of course they’re not: they’re passive candidates, for crying out loud! So in one way, shape, or form, they’re going to try to tell you that they’re not interested in whatever opportunity you have. There are a few reasons for this:
· The current employer is both compensating them and treating them quite well.
· People, by nature, cling to the status quo and are fearful of change. That’s just the way most people’s brains are wired. (I said most, not all.)
· For some reason, they think that just talking with a recruiter means that they are somehow disloyal to their current employer. This is especially prevalent with people who already have a guild complex for one reason or another.
Luckily for you, everything in life comes down to motivation. When the candidate picks up the phone, they might be motivated to maintain the status quo and object to your pitch. It’s your job to switch their focus and alter their motivation. There is a two-step process for doing this:
Step #1: Convince the candidate that your opportunity is clearly better than the opportunity they have right now.
Step #2: Convince the candidate that your opportunity is the next logical step on their career path.
Passive candidates do not make a move simply for a job. They’re bigger thinkers than that, which is one of the reasons that they’re top candidates. They will make a move for a better opportunity that will serve as a stepping stone to greater things.
Hiring manager objections in recruitment
Like candidates, when you call the hiring managers of prospective clients, those hiring managers want to get you off the phone. Once again, that’s why they’re objecting to your presentation. And similar to our discussion of passive candidates vs. active job seekers, there are two types of people who might answer the phone at a prospective client.
The first is an actual hiring manager. This is the person who actually makes the hiring decision. In addition, they feel the urgency of unfilled positions and are directly responsible for the success of the hire.
The second is a Human Resources representative. They are less likely to be the person who actually makes the hiring decision. They also are less likely to feel the urgency tied to important open positions. In some instances, the HR representative reports to the hiring manager. In other (more unfortunate) situations, the recruiter is forced to go through the HR representative and has no access to the hiring manager.
As a general rule, it is more effective for a recruiter to speak with the hiring manager than the HR representative. In other words, it’s easier to overcome hiring manager objections that it is to overcome HR rep objections.
The reason? It’s easier to switch their focus and alter their motivation. When it comes to overcoming objections in recruiting, that’s “the name of the game.”
So the first step is to make sure that you’re actually speaking with the hiring manager. If you’re not, then find a way to get connected to them. In some cases, that will be easier said than done. With passive candidates, they’re going to try to tell you that they’re not interested in whatever opportunity you have. With hiring managers, they’re going to try to tell you that they’re not interested in your recruiting and/or placement services. There are a few reasons for this:
· Their organization has no job openings. (Not likely in this current recovery economy and candidates’ market, but still possible.)
· Their organization is attempting to fill job openings through its own means. With the Internet and social media, some companies believe they can accomplish this. But when it comes to actually sourcing and hiring the very best talent in the marketplace? Not so much.
· Their organization does not pay recruiting fees. This is actually a corollary to the second reason on our list.
· Their organization is using another recruiting agency to help fill its open positions.
Once again, everything comes down to motivation. When the hiring manager picks up the phone, they might be motivated to try to fill their open positions themselves with whatever candidate pool they can muster. Therefore, they object to your pitch. It’s your job to switch their focus and alter their motivation. There is a three-step process for doing this:
Step #1: Assess the organization’s current needs for talent and the hiring manager’s opinion of how successful it has been in sourcing and hiring top candidates.
Step #2: Establish the fact that you have access to and influence with top talent within the industry. (Especially the talent that the organization is lacking and/or not able to find.)
Step #3: Discuss the circumstances under which you would be permitted to contact the hiring manager in the future regarding available talent.
Might the hiring manager give you a job order on the spot? It’s possible, but not probable. However, that’s not an immediate necessity. You’re overcoming objections by laying the groundwork for future success. You’re connecting their need for talent to the value that you possess in terms of providing that talent.
When they picked up the phone, they were motivated to find the best talent they could find through whatever channels they were using. When your conversation is over, they should be motivated to at least explore gaining access to the talent that YOU have.
Cold calling objections and rebuttals
Now that we’ve analyzed overcoming objections in recruitment from a psychological tug-of-war perspective, it’s time to dig in further. Specifically, we’re going to present actual cold calling objections and the rebuttals that you can use. By no means do you have to use these rebuttals word-for-word. They simply serve as a framework from which you can devise your strategy for effective recruitment objection handling.
And to help us, we’re going to call on some of the best trainers in the recruiting industry.
Objection rebuttals for candidates
Scott Love of the Attorney Search Group contributes our two objection rebuttals for candidates. With this first one, he advocates a soft-sell approach designed to relieve the tension and stress of the call. It gives control of the conversation to the candidate and allows the recruiter to lead them instead of push them. That rebuttal is as follows:
“[Candidate’s name], what I’d like to do is find out more about you. I’d like to find out about where you have come from in the past in your career, what you are doing currently, and where you would like to go in the future. And if the direction you want to pursue is a place that my client can take you, then I’ll tell you everything about this opportunity and you can decide for yourself what you’d like to do. Whatever you want to do or pursue is fine with me.”
Scott’s second objection rebuttal for candidates clarifies the conditions under which the candidate would welcome another call. It identifies motivation, emphasizes transparency, and sets expectations for future communication and possible collaboration. That rebuttal is as follows:
“If I had your dream job come across my desk on a search assignment and I was going to call and tell you about it, what would be three things that you would need to hear for you to get excited about it?”
Objection rebuttals for hiring managers
Bob Marshall of TBMG International has our first objection rebuttal for hiring managers. This rebuttal is suitable when recruiters encounter the “no openings” objection. That rebuttal is as follows:
“Oh, I guess I didn’t make myself clear. I’m a recruiter. I would venture a guess that 90% of the companies I place with don’t have openings when I call, but do want to be kept apprised of top-notch talent as that talent surfaces. One of the reasons for my call was to see if you wanted to avail yourself and your company of this unusual service.
“What kind of person would you like to hear about, should I uncover that person in a subsequent search? Remember, I am a ‘contingency’ recruiter, so that means that it costs you nothing to speak with my candidates. Only if you make them an offer and they accept and they start to work does my service charge come into play.”
Jon Bartos of Global Performance Search has our second rebuttal for hiring managers. This is one is also designed to overcome the “no openings” objection. That rebuttal is as follows:
“Mr. Client, let me ask you a question. What we’re finding is that in today’s market, average talent is everywhere, but exceptional talent is very difficult to find. Those are the individuals knocking the sales quotas down for your competitors in the Southeast. Here is my question: since I talk to the A-players in your market on a daily basis, would you like me to bring to your attention the top A-players in the Southeast? The people who could quickly solve your revenue issues?”
So now that you’re armed with your rebuttals, it’s time to run head-long into that avalanche of objections. There are literally thousands of passive candidates and hiring managers out there, just waiting for the opportunity to object to what you have to say to them.
There’s not time like the present to jump on the phone and sharpen your skills. Because every “No” you get means that you’re one step closer to getting a “Yes!”
Or at the very least, a definite maybe.
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