Working the Phones

While much of the job search moves online, some recruiters find nothing replaces the reliable telephone.

When a recruiter calls, it’s a good idea to answer the telephone.

That might have been obvious advice 10 to 20 years ago, but today the job search has become so reliant on the Internet, e-mail and cell phones that some are left to wonder if talk time still matters. Yes, it does.

Some executive search firms consider the “old school” method their secret weapon against competitors who rely too heavily on technology to do the job for them, said a Massachusetts-based executive recruiter who asked to remain anonymous.

“We leverage any and all available resources to search out candidates,” he said. “That includes doing telephone work when it’s necessary, though it’s definitely much harder than just posting a job or searching on Facebook and waiting for candidates to come to you.”

Fritz Eichelberger, CEO and founder of, an executive search and recruiting firm based in Tampa, Fla., has been a recruiter for 27 years. He does use online job boards and social networking sites to source and find new candidates, but most of his efforts involve directly connecting to those candidates by phone.

“My method involves lots of man-hours, knowing how to use ACT [Customer Relationship Management software] and Outlook for contact management and an unlimited cell phone plan.”

Eichelberger said he has tried relying on software and statistics technology to assess candidates’ aptitude and abilities but that it hasn’t been able to beat his own qualification techniques. “My candidate always wins because I take the time to know the candidate.”

It can be arduous, frustrating work — unreturned voice mails, disconnected phone numbers and even the occasional angry hang-up — but the effort always pays off, said Josh Letourneau, the owner of LG and Associates, an executive search firm based in Atlanta and the author of the blog, Collaborative Chaos.

In a recent blog post, Letourneau maintains that extensive phone work has become a guerilla tactic that enables the most savvy recruiters quickly to reach candidates and engage them directly. Smart firms aren’t just relying on social networking sites and online job boards to do their work for them.

“Embrace [phone work],” he said, “while your competitors take the easy street of relying on a social media presence and a series of job-board advertisements to recruit for them.”