Why Simply Pitching to a Job to Top Candidates Rarely Works

There are some tactics, strategies, and techniques that employers try in the marketplace right now that simply do not work. And one of the main reasons they do not work is because it’s currently a candidates’ market.

One of those tactics is pitching a job. Some hiring managers (and also some recruiters) make it a habit to call candidates and pitch jobs to them, seeing how far that will take them. Instead, I like to work a bit more strategically. Instead of reaching out to a candidate and simply pitching a job to them, I’d rather do the following:

Find out where that candidate wants to go in their career and develop a long-term relationship with them instead.

The reason why I prefer this approach is simple. When the time is right and the right opportunity comes along, I can strategically contact them about an ideal role that could be a great next step for them in their career.

As you might imagine, I have a case study that illustrates this.

A matter of YEARS, not days

I recently made a placement in three business days. At least, it appeared to be only three business days. Here’s how it happened . . .

On Thursday, I reached out to the candidate. On Friday, the candidate had a face-to-face interview that involved air travel to another city halfway across the United States. (Yes, my client made that happen directly after the phone interview. After the phone interview, my candidate was on a plane. I don’t even think he had time to go home to get a bag.) On Friday, he interviewed. By Monday, he had an offer, which he accepted. On Tuesday, he resigned from his current position.

My client asked me if that was the fastest placement I had ever made. The fact of the matter was that looks were most definitely deceiving.

That’s because the placement actually started years ago when I first met the candidate. Our relationship continued to develop over a number of years, where we talked numerous times about his career and his career goals. I knew his experience, and I knew his goals.

So when my client hired me to fill the opening, I knew who to speak with about it. My client may have had the perception that it was an easy placement. While I’m happy that my client was nimble enough to move quickly, I didn’t just meet that candidate. We’ve had years of history together discussing his career, the industry in which I work, his experience, and his goals.

Problems with pitching

This case study and this placement is a prime example and sets an excellent model of how organizations should develop their talent pipeline and how they should hire candidates. That’s because this is how the best candidates are hired, and I’m talking about the top 10% of people working in the industry today. These types of candidates are cultivated over time.

On the other side is the pitching approach. Sometimes, pitching a job does help to generate interest. However, if it’s a “cold pitch,” then it’s less likely to work. A “cold pitch” is what happens when a recruiter, hiring authority, or HR representative pitches a job to a candidate without really knowing anything about what they want or their career goals. They put the focus on the job without focusing on what the candidate wants, which may or may NOT be the job that they’re pitching.

Here are a few more problems with pitching a job, especially a “cold pitch”:

  • The candidate may view the approach as more threatening and less consultative. Without a prior relationship with the person, they’re more likely to dismiss what the person has to say.
  • The candidate could be concerned about confidentiality. They might not like the thought of what they’re discussing getting back to their employer, especially if they’ve never talked with the person who is now pitching a job to them before.
  • If you completely rub the person the wrong way, not only will they not want to consider the current job being pitched, but they might also not want to consider future opportunities, as well.

As you can see, pitching a job can be a risky proposition, Building a relationship with top candidates, on the other hand, is much less risky and much more effective.

What really makes a difference

Top candidates—specifically the top 10% of candidates in the industry—are a rare breed. They’re in a class by themselves. Approaches that work to generate interest with other candidates sometimes do not work on them, and in some cases, they rarely work. That’s because top passive candidates aren’t actively looking for a new job. However, they will make a move for the right opportunity, one that’s better than the one they have now. For many of these candidates, they already have the right opportunity in mind.

This is the value that search consultants provide to organizations. They build relationships with top candidates and they ask them the right questions about what they want for their careers. Then, when they come across an opportunity that lines up with what the person wants—like I did in the case study above—they present that opportunity to the right person. It’s the difference between saying, “I think you might be interested in this job,” and “I have the job that you’ve been waiting for, the one that you and I have discussed for quite some time now.”

That’s what makes a top candidate hop on a plane at a moment’s notice to interview with an organization that wants to hire their services. It wasn’t the pitch that convinced the candidate to do that. It was the relationship they had with their recruiter (me) and their willingness to tell that recruiter (me) what they really wanted for their career.

Recruiting and hiring top talent is not like recruiting and hiring other talent in the marketplace. The correct approach is needed, and it needs to be executed in the correct way.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of organizations. If this is something you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.