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“Hello (insert name here). This is Merit”

We’re normal people. We have normal feelings though, frankly, some of my colleagues spend waaaay too much time looking at The Kardashians and American Idol. Maybe that makes THEM normal and me the one who’s out of sync with the world; that’s for another blog or possibly even a therapist’s couch. We’re here to find people — we call them candidates — jobs, and to help companies – we call them clients – fill their vacant positions. If we’re successful, the candidates send nice thank you cards, the company pays us a fee and that means we can pay our bills and therefore continue working at the job we love, helping people find jobs.
So…..we spend our days calling up a lot of potential candidates whom we have found, well, we’re not saying where, evil laugh, because our competitors will steal our ideas. Let’s just say that most of them have their information out there because they’re looking for a job, and we find them. Depressingly, a small percentage have no idea how to answer the phone – but a small percentage of thousands of people is still a reasonable number of actual people. (5% of 10,000, I’m making these numbers up, is 500).
Perhaps you have been hounded in the past by telemarketers, the bailiffs, your mother-in-law, that nutty man who lives down the hall. We understand.  Alas, that sometimes translates when answering the telephone to an aggressive manner.
“Is that (insert name here)?” “Why, who wants to know?” Are you telling me that you have a different answer depending upon who’s calling? Even if you do, p-l-e-a-s-e practice with a polite, “Who’s calling?”
Right, we tell you we’re Merit. Now you know we’re a recruitment service and we have a position which we think and fervently hope will suit you and in which you will be interested. As a quick rule of thumb, answer as though we were the actual company, and you’ll hit the correct note.
“Well, how much is it paying?” said in a suspicious tone will not endear you to us. “Salary is important to me. Can I ask what’s it’s paying?”  If you can’t tell the difference between that and the previous question, it’s ok, you can stop reading the blog now.
“We have a position we think you’re qualified for.” “Why, whatddya have?” A legitimate question, but the manner of asking lacks subtlety. “Oh, ok, tell me more!” shows a gratifying interest, even if it only lasts as long as the time we spend telling you the job description. It’s ok, we know that not everyone will like all the jobs we have to tell them about. “Sorry, personal work is out of the question, it’s not something I want to do” we can live with. “I’m not making coffee for someone” said with contempt won’t get you much further in our conversation. And it’s the contempt, not the fact that you don’t want to make coffee……
All of this is doubtless having my regular readers (er, ahem, I have regular readers?) get all annoyed at me because I’m being snotty in today’s blog. Certainly, the recruiters would rather have a pleasant conversation, whether the recipient is interested in the position or not, than having the person at the other end of the phone berate them for daring to call them. More importantly, though, it’s in the candidates’ best interests to be polite. If you’re like this with the agency, what are you going to be like with the client? Even if you get the job, what are you going to be like with colleagues, customers, managers? If your experience suits you for a job, we’ll want to present you to the client, but we can’t risk our reputation sending someone who gives rude phone.
Ok, write back and tell me I’m wrong – I can take it!