The Lost Art of Making a Phone Call
Written By David Savage
The lost art of making a phone call is limiting the ambitions of new recruits.
I started in technology recruitment in 2007. At first glance that looks like yesterday, too recent for much to have changed. But that assumption ignores just how quickly technology is transforming society and the world of work. I’ll give you two statements to highlight just how much change we’ve witnessed in just 11 short years.
Firstly, the iPhone was released on the 29th June 2007. Before that date there were no apps. Just think how many businesses are app first, and how many rely on the growth of mobile. The speed with which the iPhone spread and altered our habits is frankly terrifying.
Secondly, on my way out of the office, at the end of my first day, my MD stopped me. As I walked past his desk I absent mildly pulled off my tie. “Dress to the position you aspire to” he rebuked me. Today the top 5 most valuable businesses on the Fortune 500 are; Apple, Amazon.com, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook. When did you last see their CEOs wear a suit and tie?
That change has transformed the recruitment industry too. LinkedIn was banned when I started, the database was a businesses most valuable asset. Getting through to a line manager with hiring authority was reasonably easy. The idea I needed to work with procurement was completely alien. HR was often an afterthought, more of an annoyance than a concern. Today our main relationships (as recruiters) are Procurement, People, HR and Talent; technology leaders are highly valuable sponsors but they ultimately can only get you so far.
It certainly was far easier to get a company number, ask for a manager via the reception telephone number and speak to a decision maker. But fear not, now we have social media.
Except that’s where I think we’ve lost something valuable along the way. Much of the change that’s happened during the last decade is to be embraced. But sales is a tough gig. It’s competitive, your market is often saturated, and rejection is as rampant as ever. My decision making (in that environment) was made simple by a lack of alternatives. I had a desk, a database, a job board and a ‘phone. There was nowhere to hide and the only way to beat the odds was to hammer out calls. I spoke to everyone I possibly could; candidates, clients, candidates that didn’t strike me as quite right. It didn’t matter because it was practice and gave me an opportunity to learn. At first I was a little nervous of asking questions. Funnily enough making 600 calls a week, week after week, soon sorts that out. It makes you a stronger, more resourceful consultant and lays foundations in place for a strong career.
It’s All Gone Social
Today a junior consultant can sit on LinkedIn, on Whatsapp, on Twitter, on Instagram and claim they’re all adding value and talk to 10 people a day. The basic art of a sales call is never learnt, and the ability to bounce back from failure underdeveloped. Whilst I am a huge advocate of social media and tools being used to augment our jobs, we need to learn the basic skills to be successful. Social should be used to tee-up a ‘phone call, not replace it.
Pick Up That Phone
So if you’re new to recruitment and you’re told to pick up the ‘phone, heed that advice. Don’t look at your manager and lazily assume they’re out of date. The only way you’ll survive coming technological disruption is through making a connection with someone and that isn’t done in a limited number of characters.