I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up (still don’t!), so I took the LSATs, went to law school and became an attorney. I quickly realized I would have been a great lawyer if it wasn’t for all that darned fine print!
I am a headhunter. Much like lawyers, we are ignored at best, loathed at worst, until our services are needed. (I am both an attorney and a recruiter!). As the owner of a small shop, I am my own marketing manager, and I know there is a fine line between being professionally tenacious, and just plain annoying. You know that feeling? It’s like “Should I make that 8th call/text/email?
The situations in which I fret about being overbearing almost always involve a lack of communication on the part of the other party. For example, since the year began, I have been contacted by several hiring managers about possibly helping them with their search for qualified compliance candidates. In each of these situations, that initial reach out was the last time I heard from any of them. Now, I know that “making the sale” often involves persistence and focus. I always assume that my potential clients (and candidates) are extremely busy and probably have overflowing inboxes (more on this later). So, what to do? Busy people tend to prioritize. Hiring that compliance officer is important, but it requires a lot of time: reading resumes, scheduling interviews, etc. More immediate tasks often take priority, emergencies present themselves. This is a “Catch-22.” You are short staffed, and therefore busier than usual. You need to hire, but because you don’t have that person on your team yet, you have even less time then ever to find her. My calls go unanswered, and I am left to wonder: did you decide to go in another direction? Have you already found your new employee? Did you put the search on hold? I actually once had a CCO ask me to help find a junior AML officer. After that first call, nothing. Weeks later, I found out that the CCO had left the firm!
I try to balance persistence with a measured response. You reached out to me, but you are busy, and I don’t want you to inadvertently forget about me. So I usually end up leaving a weekly message (in these situations, for some reason, the phone rarely gets picked up), just a friendly reminder that I’m here to help. I will usually attempt to reach the other party for several weeks, leaving up to 8-12 messages. This means that you are presumably RECEIVING these 8-12 messages. That’s 8-12 messages on top of the hundreds of other communications that you routinely receive.
I have what I think is a simple solution that will reduce the size of your inbox and the level of your stress: send a three-word response! “No, not now.” “Thanks, we’re good.” “Never contact me again!” (4 words) In an instant, I am off your back. You just saved yourself time and bandwidth. It takes virtually the same amount of time to dash off a quick sentence as it does to read and delete. We can both move on.
One of the things that keeps me up at night (mostly Sunday nights) are all the little tasks that need to be done on Monday morning. I actually check my various inboxes on Sunday afternoon, and respond to everything I can, mainly so that I have a good idea of what I will encounter on Monday morning. Respond/delete. Repeat. It takes almost no time at all, and I feel my blood pressure going down each time. A messy desk/inbox is the sign of genius? HORSEHOCKEY!
Maybe you are casually entertaining the idea of expanding your team, and you reach out to a few headhunters, just in case. No harm, no foul. Maybe you decide not to hire at all, so you see my emails and you think “Ah, don’t need this right now” and delete. That’s fine, but one day, you may have a real hiring emergency. Your best employee might just up and quit. Keeping an open line of communication is a great way of ensuring that, when you do really need us, we are best positioned to help, because we have an idea of what you have been experiencing over time. I can then explain to the candidates what’s going on in the hiring firm, and why they are hiring.
Penultimate note: I experience this with candidates as well! Candidate comes to me frantic about needing a new job because his/her team was just told that the company was sold and layoffs are imminent. I find a firm that is interested in setting up an interview. I reach out to the candidate, and, inexplicably, get no response, sometimes for days (even a week or two). In one instance, the hiring firm informed me that they had no time to wait, and was moving forward with another candidate.
Final note: I’m not saying that the response needs to be immediate. I realize that not every communication needs a response, and sometimes we need to think about things before we do respond, ie: “What did you think about the proposal?” We all receive blind sales pitches. Wrong numbers. Robocalls. What about that friend/colleague or hiring manager that leaves a vague message, like “Yeah, call me.” This can be a real time waster and stress producer. Uh oh, what’s going on? Am I being fired? Are you happy/unhappy with my work? If you do decide to respond, it will save you time and money if you briefly explain the reason for your response. Generally, if you need to take more than 24 hours to respond, perhaps a quick note mentioning that would be appropriate.
I look forward to all your communications and responses down the road!
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