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How to Approach a Company with a Candidate

At Firefish Software, we get plenty of recruiters approaching us looking to spec candidates into our business. So, we thought we’d share some insights into how to do it well, alongside some common pitfalls to avoid. Read on and discover the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to approaching a company with a candidate…

Let’s start with the bad…

The Bad Bait

How to Approach a Company With a CandidateAn email comes in from an agency located miles and miles away from us stating they have the ideal candidate looking to join Firefish. Instantly I dismiss it as I think: ’How can an agency have a candidate based in Glasgow on their books whom actively wants to join us?’ Firstly, this agency has provided no evidence of attracting any candidates in Glasgow in the past. Secondly, they have never talked to us so how can they know anything about our culture or business? Thirdly, I wonder if that poor candidate even knows they’re being used as bad bait. Harsh but true I am afraid and this approach only reflects negatively on my impression of the recruitment agency.

So, if you are targeting a company outside of your normal locality please state this and provide some justification as to why you are targeting us with this candidate. For example, if it is a Scottish candidate in London looking to return to Scotland, say this in your email to achieve the spark of interest you were hoping to achieve.

The Ugly Generic Canvass Email

Now I am sure you have spent lots of time perfecting this email but I am afraid you were just wasting your time. This email or LinkedIn InMail template usually involves a generic message that goes something like this:

‘Hi I am [your name], I am fabulous and so is my agency and hey presto I would like to send you some candidates for you to look at. Are you the best person to deal with?‘

Wow... all I do with these messages is hit delete...  Let’s unpick why. The main thing about these generic approaches is they’re generally all about the recruiter and their agency and they’re very untargeted. These messages show you’ve made no effort to understand our business. It reads as a cut and paste job for a standard canvass email and really gives me no reason to respond let alone consider any candidates you think I should look at.

Read: 4 of the Very Worst Sales Emails Ever

And Then There’s the Good Approach That Works

Okay, so you may be thinking I am a hard nut to crack however as surprising as this may be I actually did hire one of our best employees through an agency. I’d never used this agency before and it was a CV sent on spec. So what were the magic ingredients that made this approach work this time around? 

Well, it’s not rocket science but ticking these boxes counts. In this case, the recruiter had spent time researching our company and the type of backgrounds that we had hired previous employees from. Her approach did not pretend to understand everything we did but instead simply acknowledged the sort of talent we looked for. She came across as credible and gained my trust by mentioning some of the companies I knew of alongside volunteering references I could call. But the best bit? She didn’t try and push an irrelevant CV in front of me, or push to take on a job - she simply wanted to start a conversation and her aim was to establish how she could add value to our company.

And the result? She got a placement from us…  So, for recruiters struggling with how to approach a company with a candidate the solution isn’t difficult. You need to be different, be credible, and know your market inside and out. From there you can add value in everything you do. As we’ve seen at Firefish, this approach works!

Whitepaper on building effective recruitment email campaigns.

Wendy McDougall, Firefish Software CEOAbout the Author: Wendy McDougall is the CEO of Firefish Software. With just under 20 years experience in the recruitment industry, Wendy is on a mission to inspire the next generation of recruiters and help challenge the traditional recruitment agency model of doing things. In her spare time, you’ll find her enjoying some down time with the family, playing squash and feeding her inner geek with all the latest technology!

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