Sourcing Summit – Workshop 4: Engaging Candidates After Sourcing

Posted on August 11th, by Sourcing Ninja in Events, Sourcing Summit 2011. 1 Comment


This was my highlight for the day. With the schedule at hand, I eagerly awaited for Riges’ workshop. The reason for my excitement was that I felt that this topic covered an area that isn’t often talked about (phone work) and I thought it would also offer me some practical knowledge for when I got back into the field. To say the least, I wasn’t disappointed.

To cut to the chase, this talk was ”short and sharp” [please excuse the pun]. We started off with a few introductory slides but soon the powerpoint stayed frozen on the slide with simply: ‘Q&A’ in bold. For me, it wasn’t the content that was important, it was the potential for a major mind-shift for those who were hesitant in leveraging the phone.

The messages that really brought it home for me were:

  • The importance of scripting
  • Your job as a sourcer when engaging candidates



They say when you approach a candidate, the initial call can be made or broken within the  first ten seconds… five if you’re asking a hardcore phone sourcer.

I was glad that Riges was not shy in sharing some of his “scripts” when engaging with potential candidates. He offered three one liners which he uses that have a high success rate in eliciting candidate engagement. Let’s explore and break down the psychology behind each of them:

“How do you see your career evolving” – As opposed to “are you happy with your current position?”… The difference is that the first is an open question that requires the candidate to engage with you and really articulate their answer. The latter is a closed question which offers the candidate an easy option of having a one word answer. In addition, the vast majority of strangers you ask this latter question to will result in a resilient  ‘Yes!’. Why? Well besides the fact that you’re probably calling them at work and they’re surrounded by their colleagues, many people do not like the thought that they are generally unhappy with their job. A job which they turn up to for 1/3 of the day and half their waking hours, five days a week. This phenomenon is called cognitive dissonance.

“Paying you the courtesy by letting you know…” – as opposed to “I’m not sure if you’re interested in exploring any opportunities…” The difference is that the first example is much more subtle in the approach and it invokes the notion of reciprocity. People tend to want to help others who have helped them. By letting them know that you’ve just paid them a courtesy, it’s more likely that they would want to return the favour, perhaps, by giving the opportunity some actual consideration or by referring you to some people they know who might be suitable.

“Would you be open to hearing about…” – Similar to the previous example in that it’s a soft approach. With it, you don’t assume or imply that the candidate is “actively looking” for a position and so the candidate doesn’t automatically have their defences up, ready to reject your offer.


Your Job as a Sourcer

With the clock at 1 AM and another full day of the summit to look forward to, I think this point can be summed up in the following line from Riges’ slide. To put some context around it, the line is in regards to your interaction with candidates:

“You must uncover and understand motivations and aspirational needs”

Have some scripts of your own you’d like to share? Why not share them below!


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