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How to Make Better Recruiting Calls as a Search Consultant

by | Sep 25, 2020 | Marketing, Top Echelon Blog

If you’re going to be an agency recruiter or executive search consultant, then you’d better be okay with rejection. You’d better be able to take rejection after rejection after rejection and just keep on rolling. Because that’s what you’re going to get, day after day after day when you make your recruiting calls.

However, for those recruiters and search consultants who are able to weather rejection and perhaps even “laugh in the face of it,” untold riches await you. (That might be an exaggeration. Hold on while I check with legal . . .)

Recruiting calls and . . . requests for more information?

In the meantime, let’s talk about how to make better recruiting calls as an agency recruiter or executive search consultant. First and foremost, it’s important to realize that objections made by either candidates or prospective clients during your headhunter call are actually buying signs. And what are buying signs? According to recruiting and staffing industry trainer Barb Bruno, they’re actually requests for more information!

“Wait a minute,” you might be thinking. “Requests for more information? If they wanted more information, wouldn’t they just say, ‘I’d like more information’?”

Allow me to clarify. They’re not making a conscious request for more information. They’re making a subconscious request for more information. What they’re really saying is this:

“Dear recruiter, I am making an objection to what you’re saying or proposing based on the information that I have at this exact moment regarding many things. These include my current situation, my experience with search consultants in the past, and even my personality. Now, if you could somehow provide me with more information, specifically information that would change my mind about this phone call and the value that you could potentially offer to me, then perhaps we can do business together. Please proceed.”

According to Barb, if you’re not taking three objections per telephone call, then it means you’re not making recruiting calls. All you’re doing is making the painful equivalent of customer service calls. And who wants to make customer service calls? (I’ve worked in customer service before, and when I did, even I didn’t want to make customer service calls.)

This means that if you’re on a recruiting call and a candidate or prospective client presents you with an objection, you do NOT end the call. You give the person more information, because as we just established, that’s what they’re asking for. And if that person gives you another objection, you still do NOT end the call. You give them even more information, because clearly you have not given them enough information to this point.

And if they give you a third objection during the recruiting call? Well, then it’s decision time. You can either gracefully end the call or press on, undeterred.

The two recruiting call objections you can’t overcome

The key, of course, is to master the skill of overcoming objections as an agency recruiter or executive search consultant. Once you do that, you will achieve higher levels of success. Not to mention you’ll make more placements and generate more income.

Now that you know that objections are really buying signs, they should become less intimidating and easier to handle. However, I should note that there are two objections that are quite difficult to overcome. They are as follows:

Silence—You can’t overcome this one. If they don’t answer or say anything, all you’re really doing is talking to yourself. And let’s be honest: you do that enough already.

Dial tone—What? They hung up on you? The nerve! As the Grinch would say, “The impudence! The audacity! The unmitigated gall!” If somebody hangs up on you, you must adopt the attitude of “So what, now what?” Recruiting is nothing if not a numbers game. Remember, every rejection or objection brings you one step closer to somebody who is going to say “Yes!” (And God bless that person!)

Headhunter call objection categories bonanza!

As you might imagine, it’s much easier to effectively handle an objection when you learn what type of objection you’re facing. According to Barb, all objections fall into one of four categories. Those four categories as follows:


If a prospective client or decision maker asks you to quote your rates, then you’re facing a price objection. So be prepared to answer their question in a way that will entice them to want to work with you. Don’t give them a “take it or leave it” pitch.


A service objection is easy to identify . . . have you ever heard the phrase, “You people”? Believe it or not, there are some people who don’t like agency recruiters or search consultants. These are the people who have had a negative experience with a recruiter in the past, and they’re allowing that experience to taint their phone call (and possible) relationship with you. They definitely do not like it when a headhunter calls them. (But you’re a cuddly teddy bear, aren’t you?)


A personal objection could be a complaint directed at you or the firm you represent. Uh-oh. This one hits a little closer to home. This could be somebody who had a negative experience with another person at your agency or firm. It could be a person who worked at the agency prior to you or they could still work at the firm. If it’s the latter situation, then this headhunter call might just become a bit dicey. But don’t despair. They just want to know how YOU are going to make up for that past experience. So tell them how!


If a prospective client or decision maker says to you, “Send me a resume,” that is obviously a postponement objection. In this situation, discuss next steps and attempt to secure a commitment of some kind from the decision maker, including another call for recruitment in the near future. Commitments lead to expectations, which lead to the fulfillment of expectations. (Not always, but if you don’t have a commitment to action, then there’s absolutely no chance of that action taking place.)

Call for recruitment types (with acronyms!)

So now we know the four categories of objections. What’s next? According to Barb, you should write down the 20 most common objections you hear, place them in one of the four categories, and prepare your responses. It is very important to have your responses ready and well-rehearsed so they come across naturally. This is how you master the fine art of overcoming objections.

In addition, there are two main types of recruiting calls:

#1—WWD (What We Do) calls

People don’t care about what you do. Not in a vacuum, anyway, with not point of reference. This how your recruiting calls become customer service calls. Not only does nobody want to make customer service calls, nobody wants to take them, either. (Unless, of course, they’re in the unenviable position of actually needing them to proceed with their day.)

#2—WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) calls

This is the call for recruitment that you should be making! And in case you’re wondering, the “Me” in WIIFM is not you. It’s the person on the other end of the line. Basically, they want to know why they should care that you’re talking them. So make sure you get to the “Why You Should Care That I’m Talking to You” part of the conversation as quickly as you can.

The bottom line is that you want to earn the status of a trusted advisor with your candidates, your clients, and potential clients. When you address what is important to the other person and stop focusing on yourself, you can earn that vaunted status.

Recruiting is a relationship-building process, and in order to build those relationships, you’ll have to overcome objections. Many, many objections. When you address what’s important to the other person, you will eventually earn the status of a trusted advisor. Recruiting is a relationship-building process. But once you master the art of overcoming those objections, you positions yourself for more success as an agency recruiter or executive search consultant, in virtually every conceivable way that you measure success.

My thanks to Barb Bruno, who contributed to this article. And if you’re looking for more sage wisdom from Barb (and she has plenty, trust me), check out the videos that she has in our extensive library of free recruitment agency training courses. These courses are recorded versions of Top Echelon’s Expert Recruiter Coaching Series of live webinars, which we offer every month.

These webinars touch upon a variety of recruiting-related topics dealing with both candidates and clients. As always, our goal with these webinars (and corresponding videos) is to help agency recruiters and executive search consultants make more placements.

Tracking recruitment calls with agency software

And if you’re making recruiting calls, you need to track those calls, don’t you? Of course you do! That’s why you need a robust and powerful recruiting software to help you. And Top Echelon just so happens to offer just such a software.

Top Echelon’s recruitment agency software has a ton of great features, including a calendar for tracking your activities, including recruiting calls. And our software integrates with both the Google and Outlook calendars, allowing you to stay completely on top of all your most important activities.

And I have even more good news! We’re offering a FREE 15-day trial of our software. Not only that, but it’s the full version and you do NOT need a credit card to start the trial. (Who even does that anymore? Just about everybody asks for a credit card up front.)

Click HERE to start your free 15-day trial of the best recruitment software for agencies.

You will not be disappointed! Wait a minute . . . legal just got back to me. They say I can’t say that. Okay, then . . . you are unlikely to be disappointed!

But if you want to bypass the free trial and get a live demo of the software instead, we can do that, too. We’re flexible like that.

Click HERE to request a live demo of Top Echelon’s leading recruitment agency software!

Free Recruiting Software

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