First of all, I have a foot in both camps. I run a face to face training company and I provide recruitment training options online. So when we explore the benefits of online recruitment training (or e-learning as it is often called) this is an unbiased blog.
Of course, there are a variety of ways training can be delivered online. Some of the more familiar methods include:
- Audio apps
- YouTube clips
- Subscription sites with movies, workbooks & projects.
I’m going to concentrate on the subscription style of online learning as I think that is the best head to head comparison to live recruitment training.
One major benefit of that style of training has to be the depth of information contained in online sessions. The author will have made sure that its crystal clear and by anticipating the listener and viewer’s questions will also cover almost all bases. What’s more you get the chance to rewind and go back to any part you want. Very often in a live situation the speaker is onto another topic or you might feel it rude to ask them to go back over some information that is key to you. Heck online, you can go back over and over and over it until you are happy! Many of the words will be online, underlined, highlighted and verbally emphasised and sometimes repeated too. In face to face training its often only words of the speaker to a group.
With around 1200 words needed for 10 minutes of ‘voice’ you can be rest assured you won’t miss a trick watching and listening to an online session. The answer to your question will be in there somewhere – and you get infinite time to listen again if needed. To explore this further I’m going to let you go ‘behind the scenes’ to be able to read one of my scripts prior to going into the recording studio to voice such a session of online recruitment training.
This one is part of the headhunting training sessions from my online training product and it is about getting past the gatekeeper when headhunting:
Welcome to another chapter in your ever-growing training series. This time we are going to be exploring together hints, tips, techniques and one or two tricks on getting past the gatekeeper.
Speaking with a number of recruiters and headhunters on a daily basis I know a lot of you approach many of your targets via email or an InMail on LinkedIn. This may be due to time differences, ease, a lack of confidence or indeed ideally you may have someone’s mobile number or direct dial and don’t come across gatekeepers too often. There will though, come the time when you have to pick up the phone and tackle the good old fashioned scenario of a gatekeeper picking up your call.
It might be a good idea to be armed with a pen and a pad when reading this. You’ll be getting lots of information that you will be using on a daily basis so taking notes will help. If you try out ku.dos we provide lots of proven methods of success like this example, then you’ll be able to pause, rewind, re-listen, watch again, cement your learning and move on. If you’re like me and you spend a decent part of your day on the phone then you know that getting through to even 10% more people than you do now can be the difference between getting that key candidate for that difficult role – or not. What would even 10% more success mean for your desk? This could be one of the most valuable 30 minutes or so we will spend together right now, so let’s dive in and get started.
A typical dictionary definition of a gatekeeper in the business sense, is “Someone with the authority or ability to control access to a decision maker or to certain information”.
I’ll say that again……. a gatekeeper is someone with the authority or ability to control access to a decision maker or to certain information.
And I think the key word here is authority, because the level of authority that someone has will determine how much information you have to share with them in order to gain the access or information that we want.
Imagine for a moment if you will, a commercial building or office. One that’s large enough in size and headcount to merit a stand alone front of house area that houses the reception desk and perhaps the lifts to other floors.
On the floor or level above, the bulk of its employees sit in a variety of open plan offices each with their own teams of support staff, and junior and mid level workers and colleagues.
On the top level of this building sit the senior management and board of directors many of whom will have their own personal assistant or secretary. And so in reality there are three levels of gatekeepers.
Level One – the receptionist.
They have an important job to do and that job is to meet and greet people both over the phone and face to face, to give a visitor or caller a professional image of the company, answer basic questions and impart information they are able to give out and, of course, to facilitate putting one person through to another on the telephone.
Put yourself in his or her shoes. They may deal with dozens, possibly hundreds of calls a day depending on the size of the company – it’s a pressured job that isn’t made easier by people demanding to be put through. With this in mind, keep things with them on friendly but completely professional terms. They want basic information and, if needed, a valid reason to allow them to get you off their phone or pass you through as they may already have another call coming in.
Bear that in mind.
Consider the position from their perspective and work out what would allow them to or make them put you through to your target. Don’t make up stories or tell untruths when trying to get put through as a high proportion of the time it comes back and bites you.
What else should we take into account?
Well, the chances are your level one gatekeeper – The receptionist – will not know if your target contact is in the building and even if they do is very unlikely to know what that person is doing at that moment in time. So asking if that person is available is all but guaranteeing you getting asked for more information. So if we can, lets avoid that scenario.
It’s also important with receptionists for us to try and understand whether there may be another level of gatekeeper waiting for us if they were to forward our connection. If there is another gatekeeper then our receptionist will need some very basic information from us as the level above can make a more informed decision as to whether we should get through our not.
And finally, receptionists bear the brunt of a lot of people’s frustration and even anger throughout the course of their day. Being polite and friendly without being over sickly or false will win you far more friends and influence more positive outcomes than a short sharp instruction to be put through.
Level Two – the second level gatekeeper
Let’s now outline the second level of gatekeeper – that’s someone the receptionist passes you on to who probably sits in the same office as your target and that could be the team secretary, administrator or your target’s colleagues.
Now these guys are a bit closer to your target and, as a general rule, may need more information than the receptionist. After all, the receptionist may have passed you through to an admin assistant because it gets you off their phone and that person may well be better qualified to decide whether it’s in their boss or colleagues’ best interest to speak with you. So again, being friendly and professional will work best but also be prepared to go into more detail.
A quick tip for you is that the person who asks questions is in control and the person answering them is on the back foot. So, when put through to a level two gatekeeper, be sure to be the one who asks the questions. It is a key component in our quest to get through so I will underline that again for you…… the person who asks the questions is in control and the person answering them is on the back foot
Take into account too that this level of gatekeeper will be aware if your contact is in the office, probably aware if they are available or not and crucially, likely to speak with your contact prior to connecting you. They will most likely want to let their colleague know who you are and why you are calling so your target can decide whether to take your call or not.
Level Three – the PA
Onto the third level of gatekeeper. These guys are the personal secretary or PA – the personal assistant. Now these people need to be handled differently. After all they probably manage your target contact’s diary and their job will to be field non important calls and only put people through when all the appropriate information is to hand.
So, I will cut to the chase for this one – just tell them what you want, giving as much information as is needed. If you end up having a good professional relationship with their line manager you will have to speak to the PA time and time again in the future – so get off on the best possible footing and talk to them as if they are the decision maker. Get a PA on your side and you are in.
So onto – The Three Questions
So far we’ve covered pretty much who you might end up speaking with and later on in this session together we will deal with some angles to take when speaking with them to optimise your chances of success. But whichever gatekeeper picks up your call, at some stage, you will be asked three pretty standard questions. We all know what they are and they haven’t changed very much since the telephone was invented. So let’s work on those right now and once you perfect your response, then both your success and your confidence should increase hand in hand.
The three standard questions you will get asked time and time again are, as we all know:
- Who are you?
- Where are you calling from?
- What is the call regarding?
Clearly the first one “Who are you?” is straightforward. Simply state your first name and your surname. Sound professional yet approachable and make sure your pace is appropriate to the situation.
The second one “Where are you calling from?” can be a bit trickier.
Now, I will not lie to anyone, yet I might not want to highlight just yet that I am a recruiter – they may have a real concern why you are calling and then you lose your chance to get your thirty seconds of airtime. After all this is a headhunt call.
So if your organisation’s name is well known or has the word recruitment or similar in it then it’s best not to go there.
We may be able to avoid this completely with a little bit of thought which I will explain quite soon but another angle is to use a TLA – a Three Letter Acronym.
As an example, if your company was called Finance Recruitment Solutions , which is a bit of a giveaway, you could use the Three letter acronym of FRS. So as an example, Finance Recruitment Solutions becomes FRS.
So perhaps play around with your name to be able to use a TLA to diffuse the gatekeepers potential concern. So, you might be Thomson Consultancy for example, now put the word THE in front of it and we have The Thomson Consultancy and then change it to TTC. It’s not lying, it’s not saying something you are not and if in the unlikely event the gatekeeper wants to know what that stands for then you can say without any hesitation “The Thomson Consultancy…perhaps you have heard of us”
Believe me when using a TLA it is seldom an issue after all most people don’t know or care what IBM stands for – the TLA is accepted as International Business Machines company name.
The last of our three standard questions is “What is the call regarding?” Now this is actually quite straightforward to deal with as long as with level one and level two gatekeepers, as a general rule, you do not say the word ‘recruitment’.
The easiest and most straightforward answer is to say whatever your target contact does as a job. If it is a Java Developer, then it is a ‘Java issue,’ if it is a Sales Manager then it is a ‘sales related matter’ and so on. Please do not think that this will work on its own though. You have to take charge and as we have mentioned before – the person who is asking questions is in charge. It is time to turn the tables on our gatekeeper, so when asked “What is the call regarding?”- state the nature of the call such as ‘it is a sales matter’ and then ask them a question and one that should get a ‘yes’ answer to. The question I would use is “He does still deal with that, doesn’t he?” or “she is still your sales manager isn’t she?”. One of the reasons those work well is that your question implies that you have had contact with them previously.
So can we improve upon this in anyway and increase our chances of success? Yes we can.
I have said earlier that the person who is asking the questions is in charge. Well historically a gatekeeper has been the person to ask the questions and get a bit of a head of steam up along the way making it more comfortable for them if they were to turn us away.
Well what if we were to minimise the questions they want to ask by giving them all the answers upfront, finish with a question of our own and then close the conversation down?
I’ll say that again, let us minimise the questions they want to ask by giving them all the answers upfront, finish with a question of our own and then close the conversation down
That sounds like a plan so let’s explore how that can work in action.
If asked the first question then work it through something like this:
“I’m sorry… I didn’t say…. It’s Warren, Warren Kemp. I’m phoning from TTC, it’s with regards to a Java related matter. Jenny is still one of your Java Developers isn’t she? (yes) and we maintain control with. “That’s great – thanks.”
I’ll say that again – If asked the question “who’s calling?” then we respond with:
“I’m sorry… I didn’t say…. Its Warren, Warren Kemp. I’m phoning from TTC, its with regards to a Java related matter. Jenny is still one of your Java Developers isn’t she? (answer comes back yes) and we maintain control with “That’s great – thanks.”
The word thanks or “thank you” works for two reasons, firstly it is good manners and people like people who are polite and respectful.
The second reason it works is that it moves you on. It says we are finished when you thank them in advance of doing it.
Can we improve this even further? Well let’s try and ask them to put us through at this stage or thank them personally in advance. And a trick here is to make use of the gatekeeper’s name.
So let’s play that through….
If asked what your name is we say:
“I’m sorry didn’t I say? It’s Warren, Warren Kemp. I’m phoning from TTC, it’s to do with a sales matter. John is still your sales manager, isn’t he? (yes) That’s great, thanks– as I said, my name’s Warren, what’s yours? (Julie) You’ve been really helpful – could you put me through, Julie? Thanks.”
Lets run through that again. If asked what your name is we say:
“I’m sorry didn’t I say. Its Warren, Warren Kemp. I’m phoning from TTC, it’s to do with a sales matter, John is still your sales manager isn’t he? (yes) that’s great thanks– as I said my names Warren what’s yours? (Julie) you’ve been really helpful could you put me through Julie? Thanks.”
Of course nothing works 100% – but we have certainly increased our chances of getting put through so far. There’s a few more tips and techniques to go through although I hope you agree, that with the right tonality and pace, success becomes more certain with what we just covered.
Here’s two more for you:
When asked what the call is about you could simply say: “It’s a private matter.” Now of course you won’t be saying that to someone’s PA or personal secretary but for level one and level two gatekeepers it cuts off their options nicely. Or how about one more for the road? Well we could also say “It’s of a personal business nature.” And the great thing about these is if you choose to use them, you don’t even have to mention your organisation’s name or use a TLA. You could simply say “My name is Warren Kemp It’s a personal matter thanks” or “My name is Warren Kemp the call is of a personal business nature. Thank you”
This next part of our session together will deal with – The right question for the right level of gatekeeper……..
And I’m going to cut back out of the script you have been reading as part of my online recruitment training product and back to the blog or I will be giving all my trade secrets away!
Online recruitment training has so much to offer. I could list 101 benefits and to be fair I could list a whole load of reasons why headhunting training, interview skills training and more can be really beneficial to be able to work with a trainer live and potentially on a one to one basis. However for a cost effective and time effective way to learn, then online is a great asset to tap into. Not every recruitment firm embraces training or can afford live training. Everyone can afford an online version. And if you want to get ahead in recruitment you don’t have to wait for your employer. Go on and tune in at home and get a head start for the morning!