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Every day. Everywhere.

Candidates are being bombarded with recruiter approaches.

Primarily via InMail and email, but occasionally on the phone.

So constant has this flood of unsolicited contact become, that most candidates do not read the messages. Some have even hidden their LinkedIn accounts.

Yes, recruiters do need to initiate contact with prospective candidates.

The skills shortage is severe, unlikely to abate, and job boards are increasingly ineffective.

So how does a good recruiter differentiate?

Two simple, yet crucial, things.

       1:  Understand what people want from a recruiter.

        2: Do not approach them with a job, as every other recruiter does.

Huh? Well, let’s dive in

People only really care about three things when approached by a recruiter. (With acknowledgement to Barbara Bruno for some of these ideas)

  • Do you care about helping them, or is it all about you?
  • Can you be trusted to understand their needs and look after their interests?
  • Do you do what you say you will do? Will you deliver an outcome that they want?

Now, if you believe in those three things, your goal is to put the potential candidate at ease about those concerns as soon as possible. That’s it.

Construct any approach you make with those three needs in mind.

And now the big one. The big secret to candidate outreach or ‘head-hunting’.

Do not approach a candidate with the infamous line “I have a great job for you”, or “I have your dream role”.

The candidate isn’t looking for a job, is she?

Or at least she never asked you to pitch her one, did she? It’s arrogant to assume you know what she wants. How can you possibly know anything? It’s riddled with assumptions. And even if she is considering a move, how do you know what is important to her?

Go back to my point 1) above. If you immediately start selling a job, unasked and unbriefed, with no credibility or rapport building, are you showing you care, can be trusted, and can deliver?

I think not.

When you approach a potential candidate for the first time, you don’t pitch a job like a sidewalk street hustler.

                                                                    You pitch your credibility.

So, start with some commentary on the market. Some insights. Something you know someone in her field would likely be interested in.

Salaries. Market movement. Fresh trends.

Then, and this is the big shiny move.

                                                                   You pitch a career discussion.

Most people in a job are not actively looking for a job (No matter how many exaggerated, unfounded articles you read about the ‘great resignation’. Most people are not moving).

So, pitching a job is like walking up to a dude in the street and pitching the purchase of a specific brand of car. How do you know he wants a car? Did he buy a new car last night? What car would he want? What does he use his car for? What size of family does he have? Does he do sports that need a particular type of car? It’s ludicrous to start spouting what you are selling without first finding out what he needs.

Selling is listening, after all.

Same with a job.

                                                                So don’t pitch a job. Pitch a career discussion.

Short version…make yours better than this;

We haven’t spoken, Mary, But I specialise in the careers of Digital marketing specialists. Your career to date has been super-impressive, but there is so much new happening in the market that might interest you. Opportunities in your space have boomed, flexible work offerings have changed, job roles have evolved, and there are some fascinating new Tech developments’ many of my clients are experimenting with. So, I thought it might be valuable for you if we set a time to chat about the market, your options and how your career could evolve.

Just an example.

But you get it, right?

Most people are not looking for a job change right now. But most people (all?) are interested in their careers.

Pitch a career chat, not a job.

And a final tip.

Specifics are powerful!

“In the last six months, I have placed eight people with profiles very similar to yours.

“Three of my clients have hired candidates with your profile into management level roles recently.

It needs to be true. I repeat. Don’t build your outreach on bullsh#t. Remember what prospects want from us.

The conversation about specific jobs will naturally evolve from the broader discussion and by then, guess what?

You will have had the chance to prove 1) you care, 2) you can be trusted  3) you can deliver.

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