Have you ever picked up the phone to call a potential candidate or client and fallen entirely blank? 

That’s cold calling in recruitment for you. It’s a bit of a gamble, but when it hits the mark, it’s incredibly effective. 

Sure, we’re all glued to our emails and LinkedIn, but sometimes, nothing beats a direct call. Problem is, most of us would rather do anything else. 

Cold calling, believe it or not, cuts through online noise, opening doors to opportunities you’d miss otherwise. 

Let’s get into how you can turn those nerve-wracking calls into successful chats.

What is cold calling in recruitment?

At its core, cold calling is a strategic approach involving proactive outreach to potential candidates and clients. 

Unlike traditional methods that wait for candidates to apply or clients to reach out for services, cold calling requires recruiters to contact individuals who may not be actively seeking new opportunities or considering a change in their recruitment partnerships.

But let’s talk numbers—does cold calling really work in recruitment? 

While cold calling has a success rate of about 2-3%, you’ll be surprised to know that this number climbs to 18% when the lead is already pre-qualified. 

So it’s not about the quantity but the quality of connections you make. 

Here’s where the beauty of cold calling lies in: 

  1. Its directness and immediacy: Unlike an email that can sit unopened in an inbox or a LinkedIn message that may get lost in a sea of notifications, a phone call demands immediate attention. 
  2. Allows for real-time interaction: Phone calls let you adjust your pitch based on the candidate’s or client’s responses, answer questions on the spot, and gauge their interest level directly. This helps you engage with candidates and clients much better than you would through an email. 
  3. Lets you stand out: With so many forms of digital communication in our world, personal touch is becoming a rarity, which makes a well-placed cold call stand out so that candidates and clients feel valued and intrigued.

You might also like: 40+ best recruiting email templates

Cold calling vs. warm calling in recruitment

Before diving into the specifics, it’s crucial to grasp the fundamental differences between cold and warm calling in recruitment. 

These strategies differ not just in the contact method but also in your relationship and familiarity with the candidate or client before the cold call.   

Here’s a concise breakdown to help you understand their key distinctions:

an infographic about cold calling in recruitment

You can say that cold calling is like shooting in the dark, hoping to hit the target by making a strong first impression and quickly building rapport. 

On the other hand, warm calling feels more like having a foot in the door, making it easier to advance the conversation toward a positive outcome. 

While both strategies have their place in recruitment, choosing between them depends on the specific context of your role, the candidate pool, the prospective client’s needs, and your recruitment goals.

Also read: 10 email templates for recruiters to keep candidates warm

How to do cold calling in recruitment: Steps and best practices to follow 

To make the most of your cold calls, here are four steps with tips you must follow: 

an infographic about cold calling in recruitment

Step 1: Preparation is key

The first step is to thoroughly research the candidate or client you are reaching out to. This preparation allows you to tailor your conversation, making the individual feel recognized and valued from the start.

Apart from understanding your clients and candidates, a deep understanding of the role you are pitching for and the client’s company is crucial. 

You should be able to articulate how a particular role aligns with a candidate’s career goals or how you can benefit the prospective client through your services. 

Step 2: Follow a recruitment cold-calling script

While personalization is key, having a structured script ensures you cover all necessary points without sounding mechanical. 

A cold-calling recruitment script should serve as a flexible guide, allowing for a natural conversation flow while ensuring key messages are conveyed. 

It should include an engaging opening, a concise presentation of the opportunity or service you are offering, and prompts for listening to the receiver’s response.

The goal of the script is not to restrict but to empower the conversation. It should be adaptable, allowing you to respond to the individual’s cues and questions in real time, making each call feel personal and responsive.

Step 3: Execute your calls with quality and precision

When executing your cold calls, engaging in active listening helps tailor the conversation further as it demonstrates genuine interest in a candidate’s career aspirations and concerns.

Remember to send a follow-up email post-call that recaps the conversation and outlines the next steps. 

You can even consider utilizing call center features like call recording (with the candidate or client’s consent) for self-review and improvement. It allows you to analyze your approach, understand areas for enhancement, and ensure compliance with best practices.

Before you end your call, try asking for referrals. This brief moment can open new avenues, even if the initial call doesn’t result in a direct opportunity.

Also read: 10+ referral email templates for agency recruiters 

Step 4: Keep an eye out for potential challenges for continuous improvement

Not all cold calls will end in your favor, and that’s completely okay. 

Instead, rejection should be seen as an opportunity to refine your approach. Apart from analyzing your recorded calls, you can improve your strategy by incorporating a CRM system and recruitment tools to track your interactions. 

Recruitment automation is one of the best ways to fast-track your cold calls, whether it’s for building a vast candidate pool or expanding your client base. 

5 common mistakes to avoid in recruitment cold calling 

recruitment cold calling

Effective cold calling requires skill, preparation, and an awareness of common pitfalls that can derail your efforts. 

Here’s a deeper look into mistakes you should avoid to ensure your cold-calling strategy works for you:

1. Skipping the warm-up

Jumping straight into your pitch without any form of warm-up or personal connection can turn off potential candidates or clients right from the start.

Instead, always begin your call with a brief introduction that includes your name, role, and why you’re calling, but quickly transition into something personalized. 

Mention a mutual connection, a recent achievement, or express genuine interest in a specific aspect of the client or candidate’s specialization. This approach helps lower defenses and paves the way for a more receptive conversation.

2. Overlooking the importance of timing

Making calls without considering the time can lead to interruptions in the receiver’s day or catch them at the wrong time, leading to immediate rejection.

While it’s impossible to predict the perfect time for everyone, aim to call during what is generally considered “professional hours” and be mindful of different time zones. 

As a best practice, it’s ideal to contact individuals for a cold call around noon or late morning in their local time. During this period, individuals are more likely to answer calls as they’ll be more settled after starting their mornings. 

It’s also crucial to ask individuals at the beginning of each call if it’s a good time to talk to show respect for their schedule.

3. Neglecting the candidate’s digital footprint

Not leveraging the wealth of information available through social media and professional networks can result in a less informed approach and missed opportunities for connection.

A quick review of the client or candidate’s LinkedIn profile or any professional blogs they might update can provide valuable insights into their background. 

Use this information to tailor your pitch and demonstrate that you’ve done your homework.

4. Failing to establish a clear value proposition

Not articulating what’s in it for the receiver or why they should consider a new opportunity can lead to a lack of interest or disengagement.

Before you pick up the phone, ensure you clearly understand the value proposition of the role or service you’re offering. 

How does it align with the candidate’s career aspirations? What unique benefits are you offering to a potential client? Be ready to communicate these points clearly and compellingly.

5. Not addressing the receiver’s concerns and doing a hard sell

A common misstep in recruitment cold calling is pushing the opportunity too aggressively without adequately addressing the concerns or questions of the client or candidate. 

This hard-sell approach can lead to resistance and disinterest, as it overlooks the individual’s specific needs and circumstances. 

Instead, try adopting a consultative approach in your conversations. When presenting the opportunity, listen carefully to the concerns or hesitations expressed by the client or candidate. 

Address these points directly, providing detailed information and reassurance where possible. Show the candidate or client that you understand and are willing to address their concerns. 

Not only will this build trust, but also open the door to more fruitful discussions. Remember, the goal is to create a mutually beneficial match, not just to fill a vacancy or land clients

For further reading: 10 business development strategies for agency recruiters to land the finest clients 

Top 4 alternatives to cold calling in recruitment 

A worker in office looking at alternatives to cold calling in recruitment on a laptop.

Recruitment cold calling may not work in every scenario. In that case, you can always explore its alternatives, depending on your needs and priorities. 

Diversifying your approach with alternatives to cold calling broadens your network and caters to the varied preferences of your target clients and candidates. 

Here are some effective strategies that complement or serve as alternatives to traditional cold calling:

1. Leverage social media

Utilizing platforms like LinkedIn and social media can provide a more informal and engaging way to connect with clients and candidates. 

With 79% of job seekers utilizing social media platforms in their job search, what better alternative is there for reaching out to candidates?

Through effective social recruiting techniques, you can easily get your job postings noticed by a massive number of individuals with little to no effort. 

You’ll be surprised to see which social media platforms can bring talent and potential clients running to you!

2. Email campaigns with a personal touch

Create targeted email campaigns for different segments of your talent pool and client base depending on industry, skill set, or career level. 

This segmentation ensures that your message is relevant and resonates with the recipients.

Tools like Mailchimp or HubSpot allow for personalization tokens within your emails, so you can address recipients by name or reference their specific niche, all while reaching out to a large number of candidates and clients efficiently.

3. Content marketing to attract clients and candidates

Sharing insights, trends, and success stories related to specific industries or roles on your company blog or LinkedIn is an excellent way to position yourself as a thought leader in the industry. 

It’s also a tactic that attracts potential candidates and clients interested in the topics you cater to. 

Another way to market yourself or your firm is by hosting informative webinars on career development, industry trends, or skill-building. 

This can help target passive candidates who are looking to advance their careers but might not be actively job searching. Additionally, leveraging strategies like cold texting allows recruiters to proactively engage individuals who may not be actively seeking new opportunities or considering a change in their recruitment partnerships.

You might also like: How to leverage content marketing to supercharge your recruiting efforts? 

4. Leverage existing networks

Encourage your current employees to refer qualified candidates from their professional networks. Often, a personal recommendation can be more effective than a cold call.

Apart from your personal network, industry events, recruiting conferences, and meetups are excellent opportunities to connect with candidates and clients in a more relaxed and engaging environment.

It’s clear that cold calling isn’t going anywhere. When it’s skillfully combined with the latest digital strategies, we hit the sweet spot. 

By initiating meaningful calls and branching out into digital spaces where candidates and clients are actively engaged, recruiters can forge connections that not only feel right but also lead to successful hires and a vast business pipeline.

Frequently asked questions

1. Is cold calling in recruitment an outdated recruitment strategy?

While digital communication has transformed how we connect, cold calling holds a unique value in recruitment. 

It allows for immediate, personal interaction that can differentiate you in a crowded digital space. When combined with modern strategies, cold calling enhances your recruitment strategies, making it far from outdated.

2. How long should a recruiting cold call last?

A recruiting cold call should be concise yet comprehensive enough to cover essential points—ideally, between 5 to 10 minutes. 

The goal is to respect the candidate’s time while providing a clear overview of the opportunity and gauging their interest. 

If the conversation naturally extends due to the candidate’s interest, that’s a positive sign, but initially, aim to keep it brief and focused.

3. What are the best times to make cold calls in recruitment?

Timing can greatly impact the success of your cold calls. Generally, calling mid-week, Tuesday through Thursday, during late mornings (around 10 AM to 12 PM) and early afternoons (2 PM to 4 PM) tends to yield the best response rates. 

Mondays and Fridays are often less ideal due to busy starts and winding down of the workweek. Always consider the candidate’s time zone and potential work schedule when planning your calls.