How Recruiters Can Use an Employer Survey as a Marketing Tool

Sometimes as a search consultant, you’re spending so much time being a recruiter that you can hardly find time to market your services like you should. However, marketing is essential for any recruiter who wants to maximize their recruiting desk, and therefore, their billings.

If you don’t market yourself and your services, then potential clients will not know who you are. And if they don’t know who you are, then they won’t give you job orders. And if you don’t have job orders, then you can’t fill them and cash those groovy placement checks. So you can see the dilemma.

This dilemma is exasperated by the fact that some recruiters aren’t big fans of the traditional cold call. There is a high rejection rate associated with cold calling, and let’s face it: people don’t like rejection. In fact, they can’t even really get used to it. So what’s the alternative?

An employer survey, that’s what!

To help us, we’re going to draw upon the wisdom of recruiting industry trainer Gary Stauble. Gary is the principal consultant for The Recruiting Lab, a coaching company that assists firm owners and solo recruiters in generating more profit in less time.

According to Stauble, if the majority of recruiters call prospects and say, “We will find you the best candidates,” the phrase starts to lose relevance in the client’s mind because they have heard it so many times. Put yourself in your client’s shoes: they are getting loads of calls from your peers who are saying very similar things, and they have less time to evaluate recruiters than they had in the past.

So, the question for the smart recruiter becomes, “How can I engage this hiring authority in a conversation where they see me as a human being and a solution provider rather than just another sales person?”

Many retained firms diligently work to position themselves well in the mind of their potential clients before they ever make a sales call.  This is a relationship-building method as opposed to a transactional sales method. It takes more time, but it builds more loyalty and profitable referrals over the long haul. Referrals are the very best marketing method that a consultant can develop, and these come only through a relationship built on trust.

The best employer survey is a marketing tool

One way to build trust with high-level prospects is to ask for their participation in an employer survey or employer questionnaire for an article that you are writing. As yourself: what are the trade journals and publications that your target market reads? Contact those publications and tell them that you are thinking of writing an article on a topic of interest (current hiring trends, management’s perceptions of recruiters, the best interview questions, how to spot a liar, etc.) and ask if they would be interested.

Most will say yes, as you are an expert in your specialty area, and they are usually eager to get outside material.  If you cannot get a response from your industry publications, try writing for a recruiting publication on a topic such as “What our clients really think of us.”  Between print, online publications, newsletters, associations, and e-zines, finding a place to accept your article should not be difficult.

Once you have decided on a venue for your article, you then want to construct a brief presentation and questions for your target contacts.  Your contacts should be high-level hiring authorities that you want to do business with.  The call needs to be sincere in that you are actually doing research for your article, but at the same time, you are also engaging in a business conversation (rather than a sales conversation) with somebody that you want to build a relationship with.

Employer survey initial questions

Start the conversation by introducing yourself and saying something like this:

“I’m not calling to do business with you, but rather to see if you would be able to share some knowledge about ____ for an article that I am writing.  We would probably need about 10 minutes.”

This way, you take the pressure off of them (and you) and also set an expectation for how long it will take.  You can ask if they are available now, or if they would prefer to schedule for another time.

At this point, many hiring authorities would ask, “Who are you writing the article for and when does it come out?”  It is important that you have done your homework and can answer this question.  Once you have permission to go ahead with the call, you are then able to demonstrate your professionalism to this potential client in a non-threatening conversation.

The best selling usually takes place by asking excellent questions.  You are judged by the quality of your questions.  If you ask an intelligent question, you are perceived to be intelligent.  If you ask a mediocre question, you are seen as mediocre.

Be sure to stay within the timeframe that you stated initially, or if you are going to run over, to acknowledge it and ask if they have time to continue.  This demonstrates, in a subtle way, that you can be trusted to deliver on what you promise.

Employer survey template and sample script

Gary Stauble was gracious enough to provide us with an employer survey template in the form of a sample script that you could use with a potential prospect. That sample script is as follows:

“The reason for my call today is that I’m going to be writing an article for______ on ________ and I’m conducting a brief survey with a select group of people who I thought may be able to shed some light on the subject.  If you could grant me about 10 minutes of your focus to answer a couple of questions, it would be very helpful. What are your thoughts?”

1.) What methods do you typically use to locate exceptional staff?

2.) What have been your toughest challenges with either finding or retaining employees?

3.) What % of your searches do you use retained vs. contingent?

4.) How would you describe your level of satisfaction with each?

5.) How has the current economic climate affected your business?

6.) What innovative ways have you found to reward your staff or inspire greater loyalty?

7.) How do you define excellence in your team’s performance?

When you finish the interview, be sure to thank them and engage in any business-related discussion to which they seem receptive. Offer to be a resource by stating something like the following:

“Feel free to call if you need to keep a pulse on what the market looks like for certain skill sets or if you would like us to conduct salary comparisons for your current staff.  I provide this for my clients at no charge and would be happy to do this for you, as well.  I will contact you when the article comes out and will get a copy to you.”

This builds rapport and trust and opens the door for future conversations.

Follow-up call to the employer survey

You now have the perfect follow-up method, which is to contact them when the article comes out and to send them a copy. You may even quote them in the article if it makes sense (people LOVE this). Premeditated follow-up is the most important part of this method.

During the follow-up call, you can move toward more of a sales conversation by asking, “What criteria do you use when selecting a search partner?” IF it makes sense within the context of your dialogue.

Send the prospect other articles that you have come across that may be of interest to them, and stay in touch regularly. There are many other back-door methods that you can use besides an employer survey, and the point is to give yourself as many options as possible to position yourself well in the mind of your potential client. When there is an opening, you want to be seen as a trusted ally that they will call on first to offer a job order or even an exclusive contract!

Top Echelon’s Recruiter Training Library

Top Echelon offers a free monthly webinar as part of its Recruiter Coaching Series. After the webinars are over, we post the recorded version of the webinars in our Recruiter Training Library. These webinars touch upon a variety of recruiter-related topics. These topics deal with both candidates and clients. As always, our goal with these webinars (and corresponding videos) is to help recruiters make more placements.

Gary Stauble has two videos in the Top Echelon Recruiter Training Library. These videos are listed below. Click on the title of each video for access:

In addition to training and webinars, Top Echelon offers other recruitment solutions. These solutions include the following:

For more information about Top Echelon and the products and services that it offers, visit the Top Echelon website by clicking here.