Candidate Engagement

The New Business Playbook for Agency Recruiters – How to Shoot, Score and Close in No Time

Everyone knows the secret to successful sales is consistency. Top producers will keep the hopper full of new business to come in on top at the end of the month.

In recruiting, we are constantly doing business development in order to diversify our portfolio and mitigate our risks of a hiring freeze dramatically impacting us. A top recruiter will continually add to their portfolio and keep “stoking the fire.” Here, I’ve broken down the simple steps and options to keep that fire burnin’.

basket2x-041. Define your target market, brand yourself, build your pipeline.

As we all know, there is a lot of business out there. Now how do we find it? Simple.

For example, this year I wanted to place contractors in Los Angeles, as I have a solid pipeline of engineers. I just defined my market.

Then, I brand myself, as a Technical Recruiter that works with mid-size companies in finding them the top contract talent.

After I define my target location, I now know how I need to talk to. My decision maker is the CTO or VP or Director of Engineering in this case. I now build my pipeline: I gather a list of companies with 300 – 2500 employees and I’ll find the contact information of the said decision maker.*

*(There are a lot of great tools that 1-Page recruiters and bloggers mentioned in other posts, for example, this piece on sourcing or this one on how to find just about anyone’s email.)


2. Need to secure new business? Give them what they want.

There are a lot of needs out there, especially in the tech market. Your job now is to identify your company’s soft spot. Hop on their job page to find out what tech stack they are working on. For example, a few of my clients had a need for a Core Java engineer. That hiring manager is hurting trying to find that smart, articulate engineer that has scaled systems, and has worked in financial services. He needed someone yesterday. You find all this from the job description they have posted, or even other LinkedIn profiles of engineers they have hired before. (Did you notice how I made that into more of a story versus a bolted job description? You’ll use this technique to build your pitch.)

Now, you know where they hurt and where you can come in to give them what they need. Call and leave a voicemail for the CTO and then follow up with an email:  


I thought of the team as I am working with a Sr. Java Engineer that is local and just started to look for his next move. He is currently working remotely for Stubhub and prior to this he was a lead engineer at a startup in San Francisco.

He has been working for startups and Fortune 5000 companies for the last 6 years of his career and has been focused on developing scalable and robust systems.

He is an expert in Java, building REST API’s and NoSQL databases. He has over 8 years of experience, a Masters in Computer Science and just started actively looking.

To set up a time to connect with him, give me a call.


The hiring manager will likely email you back. After both leaving a voicemail and emailing, you’re basket2x-03hard to ignore. But most importantly, you are addressing exactly what they need right now. When the CTO does email you back (they generally never call first), they will ask to see the resume.

Now, this is important: never send a resume without getting them on the phone first. You need to establish rapport and get a qualified description of what they really need. This is the first step in being a top producer for your client. A job description only gives you so much information. You need to hear on the phone exactly what the CTO’s pain points are so you can get a clear vision on how to find more resumes and how to screen out your candidate and others. Without this information, you’re just “throwing resumes at the wall” and hoping it sticks. That’s just a waste of your client’s time and yours and makes you look like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Set up a time to chat with the decision maker. I always say something along the lines of:

I’d be happy to share his resume, and I also have 2-3 other comparable candidates that fit the same profile. Before we connect candidates with opportunities it’s best for us to get an idea of culture and team to give them context –  and then I can get you two set up.

Give me a quick call to run over these details. I’m free now until 1pm, and you can reach me at (insert phone number)

Notice that I set a timeline and again, offer to give them what they need. I have more candidates to share (Of course, this is assuming that you’re a badass with a pipeline. Which, of course, if you’re reading this blog, you do.) and I’m very decisive in my wording. I’m not asking for a call, I’m telling them WHEN to call me.


3. The Call

The most important part of this call is to just listen. After you ask the decision maker what they ideally want to see out of this candidate, they talk for 5 minutes about their wants, and you take notes. Listening to them helps you qualify the requirement, and get all the information you need to find comparable resumes. They just gave you all the information you need in order to get business from them now and down the line.

You understand their pain points, where the company is headed and how to sell them. You can now take control of the conversation again and tell him about how you have exactly what they asked for.You then sell yourself, your company and your team’s abilities to source as well. There are a lot of bad recruiters out there, so this is your chance to stand out…and then deliver on the request.

You close the conversation by going over your terms and letting them know that as soon as it’s signed and returned, you can get your candidates on the phone with them.

Wait until the agreement is returned, then get in touch with the candidates you had top of mind, using your immediate active pipeline, database and lastly, LinkedIn. Your goal should be to have 3-5 solid resumes that fit the exact verbal description your hiring manager shared with you – and all within 5 business days.

The best way to build rapport and trust is to deliver on your promises. The first 5 resumes you share need to be screened and ready for an interview. Do not send your hiring manager someone you haven’t sold on the position yet. (This may sound like something obvious to you, but a lot of firms operate without screening the candidate first.) Again, the first 5 resumes are like the first date. You need to show that you listened to and make sure the candidates show up for you and understand the company and job role in its entirety.

BONUS: Troubleshooting

What happens when you have this “intake” call with your client and then don’t receive the contingency agreement back right away.

First off, your job as a recruiter is to get things done. Time is your biggest weapon, and as we all know, time kills all deals. If you don’t get the agreement back within 2 business days, it is your job to stay on top of both your hiring manager and legal to get it done for you. I leave a voicemail and follow up email 2 days after our discussion with the following examples:

The candidates we spoke of are ready to interview. Just waiting on the contingency agreement. They are available Monday afternoon after 3pm and Tuesday after 2pm. Please let me know what works for you and thank you for any update on the agreement.

Aaron, can’t wait to hear more about the team. Are you available to chat with him on Friday? I can send you his details and more information on why he is looking once I have the contingency agreement signed. Looking forward to it!

You get the gist. Always give your client what they want and hit the pain point of what they really need. And in our case, they need a rockstar Java engineer that is excited, and ready to start the conversation.


basket2x-054. Referrals & Using Your Network 

Every candidate you hire and come into contact with is a warm lead. After you do an intake interview, ask your candidate the following:

  • How did they like their previous company?  
  • What do you like about your current boss?
  • Can you introduce me to the hiring manager? I have a referral for them and she is a rockstar.

Getting candidate references is a great way to find warm leads as well. You now have direct contact information to a CTO, VP of Sales or CEO. Use those warm leads to ask them if they are looking to grow their team and insert your pitch for using you as a resource here. Your initial role with the LA company was to place a Java Engineer with the CTO, but what about the VP of Product? What about the VP of Sales? Where is he hurting right now? You’re a growing business, and without the right people, you’re not growing. Insert yourself as a resource for all of those roles across the organization. Again, if you don’t ask, you will not receive.  

For other new clients, ask your CEO’s at the end of an onsite meeting, “I’m in a business development cycle right now, do you know any other teams that are in need of finding the right people?” People love helping others. You’ll be surprised how soon you won’t ever have to cold call again.

And lastly, follow up with past placements on  LinkedIn and turn them into your hiring managers. You are building your connection list for a reason. Find out where that awesome DevOps Engineer that you placed 2 years ago is now, hit him up, ask him how he’s doing. Ask him how the team is building out and who you should be introduced to. He knows you’re a rockstar recruiter, (I mean you did help him land his dream job 2 years ago right?) I’ll have no problem recommending you to the CTO.

Like most things in life, recruiting is all about relationships and communication. As you’ve now learned, by clearly defining your market and how you can be of assistance, you can get in the door anywhere that needs great candidates. By delivering on what you promise in a timely fashion, you can build trust and rapport for a long and fruitful relationship with a company. And by doing great work now, you are building a pipeline and relationships that will have candidates and hiring managers alike contacting you rather than the other way around.

At the end of the working week, you will have helped more people find the right position, grown their careers and assisted a company in alleviating their biggest pain points. I’d say that’s a job well done!

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