The life of a professional recruiter or executive search consultant is rife with objections. It’s inevitable. And ultimately, how you handle recruitment objections largely determines how much success—or lack of it—you experience within the profession.
The vast majority of these recruitment objections occur on the telephone. After all, that is your main “tool of the trade,” and this was the case even before the COVID-19 pandemic. These objections are made by both job candidates and prospective clients, but for the purposes of this blog post, we’re going to focus solely on employers.
And to help us focus on employers, we’re going to enlist the experience and expertise of recruiting and staffing industry trainer Bob Marshall of TBMG International. According to Bob, recruiter make marketing calls to find companies and organizations that fall into three general categories:
- Companies that have a tremendous urgency to fill a position. Recruiters are most often paid to circumvent the time factor.
- Companies that have a difficult position to fill. They’ve run ads, offered referral bonuses to employees, checked with competitors, consulted with colleagues, and extensively interviewed with no success. In this scenario, the recruiter offers these companies a window of opportunity—a “court of last resort,” if you will.
- Companies that wish to be kept apprised of top-notch talent as those talented people surface, regardless of whether or not there is a job opening.
Of course, when a recruiter makes these marketing calls, they’re going to hear an objection. And when they hear this objection, they may be tempted to give up on the call and move on to the next one. That, though, would be a mistake.
Recruitment objections are an opportunity to win
The problem occurs when the search consultant interprets the recruitment objection as a recruitment rejection. The two are not the same. When a hiring manager or other decision maker responds with an objection, they are not necessarily saying, “No.” Instead, they’re saying that you haven’t given them a compelling reason to buy what you’re selling.
“Top billers don’t see the objection as an end to the call, but as the beginning and as an opportunity to win,” said Marshall.
According to Bob, an initial recruiting objection can also be a defensive mechanism on the part of the hiring manager.
“These defense mechanisms have been built up over the years because of ‘recruiter presentation pollution’ that has preceded our marketing call,” he said. “Think of these poor hiring managers who’ve had to listen to defective and shoddy presentations every day of their professional lives. Because of that, they’ve put up barriers.”
As part of this “pollution reaction,” hiring managers have an inventory of NO and YES responses to recruiter presentations. As you might imagine, they have many more of the former than of the latter. However, it does not mean they don’t have any YES responses. Of course they do. You just have to stay on the phone so that you can get to those responses.
According to Bob, this is what a hiring manager is saying when they say NO to a recruiter on the phone:
“You haven’t convinced me yet. Your presentation was not compelling. If you give up now, I will know that I was correct in giving you that NO. So go right ahead. I’m still on the phone. Convince me!”
As you can see, there is a bit of psychology involved with all of this. And some of these psychological factors are operating at a subconscious level. After all, when a hiring manager states a recruiting objection, they’re avoiding making a decision. In the world of recruiting and hiring, decisions can be risky. (Actually, making decisions in the world in general is risky.) As a result, people avoid making them at a moment’s notice. That’s because, in the long run, a NO can be just as bad as a YES. And since they don’t know beyond a shadow of a doubt which answer is 100% the correct one, they make an objection.
From the point of view of the hiring manager, recruitment objections serve two main purposes:
- It allows them to avoid making a decisions at a moment’s notice and in the “heat of the moment.”
- It’s an indication to the other person (that would be YOU, professional recruiter or executive search consultant) that they want more information so they can make a decision they can feel better about, both in the short term and in the long run.
“Just think of yourself the last time you were shopping at the mall and a salesperson asked, ‘Can I help you with something today?’” said Bob. “How did you respond? You probably said something like, ‘No thanks. I’m just looking.’ It’s a very common response and postpones making a decision.”
Deals are struck AFTER objections are expressed
Chances are good that you’re going to receive a recruiting objection on every single marketing call that you make. First, the hiring manager is delaying a snap decision and instead wants more information (even if they’re not saying those exact words.) And second, it’s a telephone call. It’s easier for a hiring manager to object and to even be abrupt and brusque, not exactly a pleasant combination. Or conversation, for that matter.
“But always remember that the beauty of working via the telephone is that we can make many more calls and make many more presentations,” said Bob. “That’s a huge advantage if we make use of it.”
Once again, recruitment objections are not the same as recruitment rejections. In fact, you haven’t been rejected until the person on the other end of the phone has hung up on you. In that case, they are truly not interested in getting more information from you.
So since nearly all marketing calls to employers involve recruitment objections, this means that most deals are struck after the initial objections have been expressed. If recruiters simply gave up after encountering objections, there would be no deals and no placements. Recruiters would go out of business and the profession would disappear.
Of course, that is not the case.
So recruitment objections are not avoidable. They are inevitable. And for professional recruiters and search consultants, they are an undeniable sign that they’re on the road to success!