What is Cold Calling in Recruitment?

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Cold calling in recruitment may seem an outdated practice today, but in truth, cold calling in recruitment agencies is an untapped opportunity. If done the right way, cold calling can get new leads and convert potential clients into sales opportunities. 

The adage ‘cold calling is dead’ is a myth.

On the contrary, it is still one of the most effective and common ways to identify potential leads and qualified candidates. However, the focus and approach of cold calling in recruitment have evolved over the years. Today more focus is laid on automation, personalization, and building long-lasting relationships with clients. 

Cold calling is challenging, especially in recruitment, to target the right clients and candidates and close calls. However, recruiters can now use automation tools like CRM and other recruiting software to automate and streamline manual tasks. At the same time, they focus on the human aspect of cold calling and establishing relationships.  

Before jumping into what makes cold calling effective, let’s understand what cold calling in recruitment is. 

What is Cold Calling in Recruitment? 

Cold calling in recruitment is where recruiters make phone calls to attract potential clients or candidates. There can be two kinds of case scenarios in cold calling in recruitment: 

  • The candidate or the client is not expecting to hear from you
  • Or they have no prior connection with your firm/organization 

Cold calling in recruitment concerns calling people who are professionals, potential job candidates, or hiring managers. The job candidates can be actively or passively seeking job opportunities, and recruiters contact them to make them aware of and consider the available job opportunities. 

Cold calls can be directed at potential candidates to make them aware of a job opportunity. For hiring managers, cold calls are done with the purpose of closing deals to outsource their hiring needs to the calling recruitment agency.  

A good cold-calling recruitment strategy involves leveraging technology and adopting a holistic and problem-solving approach while conversing.  

How to write a Cold Calling Script 

Cold-calling scripts don’t hamper creativity. Instead, these scripts help to foster valuable discussions, have standard responses at hand, and let the conversation flow.   

Instead of using readymade templates or using a cold calling guidebook for how to write a cold calling script, it is best to create and curate one to suit specific client needs. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to custom-make your cold-calling script:

#1 Introduce yourself and the purpose of your call in the first 10 seconds

Use not more than 20-30 words to state the purpose of the cold call and touch on the pain points. Try to set the value proposition early to generate and sustain the listener’s interest. 

#2 Validate the gap identified in pre-call research

Researching the prospective client or the candidate is necessary to keep the conversation motivated, forward, and engaging during the cold call. Once you have identified the gap or the need in your pre-call preps, validate the same via a questionnaire of 11-14 open-ended questions.

The cold call can be a great discovery call for your client or candidate in which they realize the need for your agency or new job opportunity and get curious and interested in your pitch. 

Check – Cold Calling Scripts for Staffing Agencies

#3 Acknowledge the objections 

Asking questions is great to keep the conversation going but be ready to acknowledge the objections. Once you acknowledge the objection, redirect the conversation by asking another qualifying question to find another pain point and present a value statement referring to your services as a probable solution.   

#4 Get ready for a possible rejection

Not all cold calls turn out successful. On the contrary, the success rate is significantly lower, and you need to be prepared for rejection. Instead of leaving the call with nothing, you can ask for a follow-up in the future, their feedback, or if anyone else they know is interested in the opportunity.  

#5 State Value Proposition

If the call’s going well, state your value proposition and credentials. Use simple and easy-to-understand language to convey your message and give specific credentials and examples. 

#6 Ask for an appointment while closing the call

If you successfully get across your proposition and rouse the client or candidate’s curiosity, ask for an appointment before you close the call. 

10 Effective Things to keep in mind while approaching Candidates 

As complexities and competition increase, there’s an urgent need to crack the code for cold calling in recruitment. This would not only help in mapping the magnitude of cold calling but also help turn the cold calling into ultimate conversions. Let’s discuss this in more detail. 

#1 Do your homework before setting up the call

Before you set up the call, it is essential that you understand who your target candidate is. Studying and researching the candidate persona, their closing process, and other details can help you navigate the call smoothly. A Velocify survey says that sales representatives who have prioritized leads are 19% more likely to call leads within 5 minutes. 

Creating a persona at par with your company’s values and expertise will help you close better deals and lead to higher chances of conversion. When you have visualized the call proceedings in your head and are ready to answer and ask questions, you will appear confident and can better engage the listener.  

#2 Set the tone and purpose of the cold call

Determining the purpose and intent of your cold calling is as significant as understanding the persona of the candidate or client. Once the recruiter identifies the purpose they are trying to accomplish, the conversation can be well-directed and meaningful and converted into leads. When a representative states the purpose of the call, the success rate of the call gets boosted 2.1 times. 

You will have a solid course of action to attract the candidate by showcasing the goals and the efforts towards achieving them. Even if you are calling a passive candidate, stating the purpose of the call at the beginning works as a great strategy.  

#3 Deploy automation tools to close deals 

A recruiter spends 33% of their day conversing with prospective candidates, 21% of the workday writing emails, 17% entering data, another 17% researching potential leads, and 12% scheduling calls and attending internal meetings. 

When a recruiter uses automation tools and software to automate and streamline these tasks during the various stages of the recruitment cycle, they can seamlessly transition from the awareness stage to closing the client. 

While manual tasks get automated, the recruiter can use their effort to enhance the quality of cold calls. Recruitment automation can help source potential leads from HR sites and social media, send emails and schedule calls, and build a centralized database of candidates. 

Automation can help to make your recruitment pipeline effective in the most affordable and seamless way and help build long-lasting relationships with clients. 

#4 Script your call before you call 

Try scripting your call beforehand to make your cold-calling conversation seamless and directed. Cold calling can get monotonous, but you can have ample time to talk during the call if you have a list of pointers or a script at hand. 

A script will help you break the ice, achieve flow during the conversation, and avoid any disruptions and hiccups. An average cold call can last 5 to 10 minutes, and you must impress and engage your candidate in that limited time. A good cold-calling script can be based on the following points: 

  • The value you can deliver 
  • Your ability to collaborate with them
  • The level of awareness and education about new ideas in the call
  • Valuable insights about the industry

When considered while writing a script, all these factors can greatly enhance your prospects of converting calls into leads. You can also introduce greetings like ‘Did I catch you at a bad time?’, ‘How are you’ etc. to increase the chances of booking a meeting by 3.4x.     

#5 Consult and not Sell in Recruitment cold call 

There’s always a thin line between selling and selling while consulting. Nobody is eager to hear sales pitches over a cold call. While it is the right idea to sell your company’s brand and fill in the candidate with vital details, the efforts should be subtle. 

A better approach would be to apply a consultative sales approach during cold calling. Research in-depth about the client/candidates’ profiles and know their pain points to ask the right questions. Once the candidate acknowledges the problems, offer them solutions and how your recruitment agency or organization can be a favorable and better choice. 

However, avoid exaggerating the achievements or over-embellishing your words. 93% of the success of your cold calls can be directly attributed to the tone you use during the cold call. For instance, good opening sentences that have a success rate of about 10% include, “ How have you been?”. This should ideally be led by a greeting such as ‘Hello, Is this .Ms/Mr…..?. Effective recruitment cold calling can be done using collaborative words instead of ‘I,’ ‘me,’ and ‘you.’  

#6 Connect, Engage, and Listen 

A cold call in recruiting has a better success rate if familiarity is involved. If you connect with your client on social media and establish communication before initiating the cold call, the cold calling process becomes less robotic and more humane. 

You can connect with them on professional social media apps like LinkedIn by dropping valuable comments on their posts or engaging them through your own posts. In fact, 80% of the B2B leads are generated via LinkedIn conversations. LinkedIn is a job market and a haven for recruiters seeking to reach out to potential candidates. 

Once you build a connection or a professional relationship, the next step during the call is to engage the candidate by making the conversation about them, not you or your company, in the recruitment cold call. Also, be an active listener rather than reading the script verbatim and overlooking the responses and queries of the candidate. This helps set up a rapport to help create a good impression and, ultimately, conversion. 

#7 Differentiate yourself & highlight your previous wins 

While defining the goals of your company or recruitment agency, talk about the key differentiator that sets you apart from other agencies/organizations. This tip is similar to the ‘Why should we hire you?’ interview convention that asks interviewees to explain their USPs. 

When differentiating yourself before your client/candidate and how your recruiting agency can be an asset for them, make sure not to appear as salesy. A few words that can harm your prospects during a cold call are ‘Show you how’ (13%), ‘Discount’ (7%), ‘Free trial’ (5%), and ‘contract’ (7%). Also, using your company name more than four times during the cold call can reduce closing rates by 14%. 

Be yourself and use strong adverbs to put forth your accomplishments. Instead of using vague statements about how your agency can bring in good results, substantiate with numbers and stats to add credibility to your words. 

#8 Follow up after the cold call 

Following up after the first cold calling in recruitment is pertinent in many ways, as the buyer organization would be little inclined to accept the offer in the first call itself. Consistent and regular efforts lead to conversions and sales. For instance, at least 6 cold calls are required to increase contact rates by 70%, and 95% of the converted leads are often not reached until the 6th cold call attempt.   

Salespersons should also note that 42% of the customers will be converted more likely if they call back at the time agreed upon. Very few consider following up after the cold call, due to which 3/4th of the potential leads get lost as the client loses interest in the opportunity. 

#9 Seek Referrals

A great way to make yourself known to a prospective client or candidate before cold calling them can be through referrals or recommendations from your existing clients/employees. However, getting referrals is easier said than done, as you need to insist your current clients refer you to others. Recruiters should note that only after they are successful in establishing trust and building a strong relationship should they ask for referrals. 

Companies with referrals experience a 70% greater conversion rate compared to their non-referred counterparts. This is because when one client refers you to another prospective client, your conversation begins on a note of mutual trust and credibility in the cold call.  

#10 Employ best practices 

Since cold calling in recruitment is more about professional conversations, it is better if recruiters and recruiting agencies adhere to an established set of best practices. The speaker should be polite and empathetic and also a good listener. 

The conversation should be positive and collaborative instead of a sales pitch. A conversation should always begin with a greeting and end on a positive note to improve candidate experience or convert potential leads. Always introduce yourself and the company and choose an appropriate time to make the cold call.  


Cold calling and follow-up calls should be effectuated with warmth and be as real as possible. Cold calling in recruitment is very similar to a sales call, and efforts should be made to listen to the clients or candidates. 

It shouldn’t be a monologue but a dialogue replete with queries, solutions, and discussions on topics relevant to the cold call. Research plays a very important role in adding depth to the cold call conversation.  

Also, new recruiters can use call recording to analyze previous calls and use them either to script better calls or for training purposes. A cold call in recruitment isn’t just about closing the sale but also about establishing relationships in the long run. 

FAQs on Cold Calls

How long should a recruiting cold call last?

A recruitment cold call should last anywhere between 4 to 9 minutes. Any cold call of less than 4 minutes won’t suffice as you would not have enough time to give the necessary info and generate interest.

In contrast, the first minute is enough to gauge whether the cold call will turn into a possible prospect, but once you let the candidate know about the company and the job and give enough info to spark interest, you can reflect upon the prospect’s interest in the offer.

Is cold calling in recruitment an outdated recruitment strategy?

Cold calling, as a practice, is losing its sheen, given the AI-generated spam calls and the lack of interest of the listener. But cold calling in recruitment still holds relevance, as 89% of the candidates confirmed accepting an offer if a recruiter contacted them directly. 

What is the cold calling technique?

Cold calling is a marketing technique whereby salespersons and telemarketers contact people who have either visited there or purchased from their brand once and shared their details or who have not been interested in the company’s products earlier but may likely do so if informed of it. 

Cold calling may be done via phone or telemarketing or involve in-person visits or door-to-door selling. 

How do you respond to a recruiter cold call?

While responding to a cold call from a recruiter, a candidate should always follow certain etiquette and formal code. The conversation should always be polite and friendly, and the candidate must refrain from discussing the job on the first call. Instead, they should gather callback information. 

If the candidate is interested in the offer, they should prepare to enter the hiring process and not consider refusing the job or setting conditions. As a precaution, the candidate must do their research and talk nicely and impressively. 

What is the best approach to cold calling?

Always do your research and prepare a cold calling script before cold calling. Ensure the time to call is good and appropriate. 

During conversations, the recruiter must learn to tackle objections. Engage with the candidate instead of reading the script and for a candidate, never put forth a sales pitch in the first call.  

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