Thought BubbleIt’s true.  There is no substitute for relationships in the business of recruiting and staffing. That’s simply a given.  But in a people business where metrics seem to be the measure of a man, where does email fit in? Over the years I have been told time and time again that it’s all about picking up the phone.  Or rather, it’s about picking up the phone over and over and over again. But in a Facebook friendly world has email outpaced the voicemail?

The simple answer here is yes.  Chances are that in this day and age, not only are you more likely to receive a quick response to an email, but you’re more likely to receive a positive one.  Most Hiring Managers are incredibly busy.  If they weren’t, they probably wouldn’t be hiring anyone now would they?  Making it easy for a Manager to be responsive is the order of the day when schedules are tight and Managers need a partner, not a pest. But there’s an art to developing a relationship and lasting partnership from such modest (and impersonal) beginning.

Starting Out: A lot of folks have a problem writing an introductory email. For starters, Recruiters sometimes think that a Recruiter is the last person a Manager wants to hear from.  So they have an interesting way of talking around the point, using lots of language to describe their company or their history etc.  They’re missing the point. As a Recruiter, it’s our job to help a Hiring Manager and to make their job more simple and less time consuming.  Your email should set the tone.  “Hello Nancy, my name is Sarah and I’m a Recruiter/Headhunter with Awesome Inc.  I hope things are well on your end.  I wanted to take a quick minute and introduce myself and see if you had a quick minute to discuss your current openings. I know your schedule is probably tight, so I’d be more than happy to stop by in person or have a quick phone conversation.  Do you have time on (pick a date and time)” Quick, simple and straight forward.  Because at the end of the day, that’s the service you’re going to provide. You’re going to save the Manager time, simplify their search and be up-front at all times.  Voila.

Follow-Up: That awesome email may get you a response.  It may even get you a Job Order to work on right now.  But that’s not a win.  Not yet.  While you’ve made contact with the Manager, you still haven’t developed a relationship, an understanding or a synergy.  (I hate that word, synergy.)  The trick to building this first contact into an actual relationship is having the focus on detail so necessary (though so ephemeral) in recruiting.  You need to schedule a follow-up with that Manager in short order.  Set a time a few days out, mark it on your calendar and get it done.  The second contact should be a quick phone call or voicemail, followed by an email; again, a brief email saying you left a VM but that you realize email can sometimes be easier for busy Managers. Now you’ve established yourself just a little bit more…  The Manager might not be taking notes on your behavior, but you’ve certainly created an impression of being quick, straight forward and having follow through.

The Thank You: A lot of people like to follow-up their emails and meetings with a ‘thank you’ note.  I have a small problem with this…I find an honest to goodness ‘thank you’ to be a little weak.  After all, if you’re trying to partner with someone, it needs to be a relationship of equals.  But I’m no heathen! Following up the meetings or the job orders that came from that original email is necessary and it should ring of appreciation.  Rather than send a warm thank you to someone for giving you a shot (yikes, sounds desperate), send a note letting them know you appreciated their time.  “Nancy, Just wanted to let you know I appreciate you taking the time to sit down with me earlier today. I know you’ve been quite busy.  You were a real help in giving me a better understanding of your company and Project A.  Have a great day!” I prefer letting a Manager know you appreciate their time and effort in building the partnership that will hopefully benefit both of you in the future.

In 2011, and likely in days to come, an email will prove to be a faster, more efficient way of connecting.  But it will still be less valuable and effective than an old fashioned phone call used to be…that is, unless you take the time to nourish and develop it.  Happy Hunting!

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