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Tonality in Recruitment – East Fife Four, Forfar Five.

I was sad to hear about the death of James Alexander Gordon yesterday. Although strangely I wasn’t familiar with his name, the voice for which he is famous for was for me the soundtrack for the car journey home from every football game I watched on a Saturday as a youngster. As he read out the full classified results I would listen intently and try and guess what the result was by the way he’d read the first team’s name.

That’s great, but why write a recruitment blog about him you might say?

Well it struck me that what made James so memorable was the way in which he took a task that could potentially be very boring for the listener and made it both interesting to the ear and easy for the listener (who was quite often trying to work out if they’d won the pools!) to retain the information.

In recruitment and many sales jobs where we spend the majority of our days talking on the phone, tonality is an important part of how we keep our audience engaged and interested. My first recruitment training was with well renowned Irish trainer Eoin Braun who had a great course called ‘Winning with words’.  Tonality was one of the most important ingredients he taught people to become more successful. He would say to the more miserable in every class, put a mirror on your desk and smile into it whilst you talk. And the difference that makes is measurable.

This is what a linguist would call intonation, and this is what made James Alexander Gordon a master of his profession.

James himself said that; "I trained as a musician and I think music had a lot to do with the way I read them. I looked at these names and thought, unkindly, five minutes of that could be very boring for the listener. I thought it would be nice to make it a little different, with a bit of excitement.

"So I had a dummy run. There were no numbers, but I thought: 'Arsenal have lost and I feel really sorry for them. Manchester United have won and I'm over the moon.' I wasn't a Manchester United fan, I was just working it out."

This is a simple yet important lesson for any recruitment consultant. Next time you brief a candidate, bear in mind that if you don’t make the role exciting for them with your use of language and tonality you will make less of an impression on them and that could be the difference between them being interested in the role or not or calling you next time they look for a job.

If when you make a business development call you sound like you’re on your 50th call of the day, then expect the person on the other end of the phone to sound even less interested. You’ll certainly have no chance of standing out amongst your competitors.

If you want to be a master of your trade like James Alexander Gordon, smile and give it some welly!

Steve Thompson is MD of Forward Role. The North West’s leading recruiter in Marketing, Analytics, Digital and Creative. At Forward Role we like to stand out from the crowd by being experts in our sector and making our calls and blogs as interesting, exciting and fun as possible for our clients and candidates. We hope you enjoy them!


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