“Who does she think she is?”
I’m sure that ran across your mind as you read my headline.
“We pay good money to agency recruiters! THEY should be asking the question…How to provide a great service to US!”
Believe me, we think about that all the time. Most of us are consumed by that question! We have attended dozens of motivational seminars, logged multiple webinars, and read countless books on how to provide a great value to our clients.
In spite of our earnest endeavors, however, frustration can develop in the Recruiter/Client relationship. Maybe you consider us over-enthusiastic. Or not enough. Maybe you hear from us every day. Then we disappear. Maybe it seems we aren’t acting with urgency. Maybe we ask “Why?” a little more than you’d like. You don’t want to completely sever the relationship with us, because the next candidate we provide could be your next hire! But we are doing things you consider perplexing.
I believe I can help you with that. I recently surveyed Third Party Contingency Recruiters with multiple agencies, in several markets, and across various disciplines…and I captured their thoughts on relationships with clients. It’s a glimpse into the world of the Agency Recruiter. It is my hope that reading a sampling of their answers below could only strengthen the bond between you and those you choose to work with.
It’s no secret that we Recruiters are handling multiple positions with multiple companies in a given time period. And it’s also no secret that some of our clients get the red carpet treatment, while others don’t. So I asked my Survey Group…”What motivates you to give certain clients 110%?” Surprisingly enough, the answer was *not* “the client who pays the best fee.” Instead…
-A client who views, and treats me as a partner, not a vendor or commodity.
-A client who works with me exclusively or as part of a very limited number of recruiting firms.
-A client who takes the time to get to know my background and qualifications.
-A client who listens to me when I say to them: “Just trust me. Even though this resume is not your ideal profile, I believe you need to interview this person.”
-A client who gives me repeat business…of course when I’ve earned it.
-A client with a consistent message…rather than changing their position regularly.
-A client who continues to communicate as they move our candidates through the interview stages, and provides honest feedback.
So I followed up with this question: How does a client fall into disfavor with you?
-When the client sends out mass emails to a dozen different recruiting firms with their needs list. It signals that I’m just a vendor to these companies, and not a partner in talent acquisition.
-When they only want to communicate via email, and never by phone. This doesn’t permit me to ask relevant questions about their projects and get a ready answer.
-When they take a pass on my candidates and will not explain why. I need this information so that I may redirect my search or narrow my focus.
-When they give me “urgent” job orders. Then they take several weeks to schedule interviews with my candidates. I worked extra hours to respond to this “urgent” need. What changed?
-When they give us a job order, interview our candidates, and decide to fill the position internally. We are willing to accept that our candidates may not have been as good as their internal. However, we also suspect we are being used to “comparison shop.” That’s not fair.
-When the client changes the criteria of the job order so many times, it feels like a moving target.
So then I became even bolder, and asked my Survey Group: “What one thing do you want a client to know…but are a little scared to tell them?”
-Don’t ask us for a discount without a reason. If you want a certain amount, or percentage off my going rate, be willing to agree to an exclusive. Or volume orders.
-We are inclined to give priority to clients who use us frequently and take our work seriously.
-If you ask for a dramatically reduced fee arrangement, and if I agree to it, you will not get the best talent in the market from me. The best candidates will be directed to clients who honor the work I do with a fair rate.
-There’s no reason not to return my messages. I am working for free out here, until I find the right candidate for you. The least you can do is return my calls.
I turned the tables on my Survey Group, by asking them to take some responsibility for client relationships that have gone awry. So I posed this question: “What one thing did you do to a client that you regret?
-Didn’t return their calls/messages quickly enough. They found another recruiter who did.
-Didn’t cover the search adequately, and the client found their candidate on their own.
-Didn’t respond with urgency. I thought I had the exclusive and all the time in the world.
-Didn’t replace candidates who had been eliminated from the search with more candidates. I thought I had my superstars the first time.
-Didn’t check in on my client after submitting four candidates. Just thought he/she could take it from there.
-Tried to read the client’s mind. I should have just called or emailed and asked the question.
-Wasn’t sensitive to the hiring authority’s schedule and demands. I kept calling him in the middle of the day when he was busiest and couldn’t concentrate. I should have asked which time of the day worked best, or set up a standing appointment.
People get fired every day. It’s not often when a Recruiter fires their Client, but it does happen! So I asked my Survey Group, “Have you ever fired a client, and why?”
-I caught my client in a mistruth more than once. I couldn’t trust them after that.
-The client was passing on my candidates. I found out a year later that they were called directly and hired outright.
-The client was looking for ways to avoid paying my invoice. Gave me a lot of excuses.
-The client waited a whole year to pay the invoice. We had to call collections.
-The client didn’t disclose to me that they had already known about my candidate. But they watched me go through the process, scheduling interviews, checking references, negotiating the package, without this disclosure. And in the end, I was told I would not be paid for the placement.
-Never making the hire. The client gave us multiple positions to fill. Lots of talking and talking. But no traction. No results.
I acknowledge that I have shone a light on very real and very raw observations and experiences of a sample group of Third Party Contingency Recruiters. And after reading this, you might be tempted to wave the white flag, retreat to the corporate office, and just do this recruiting thing yourself.
That was not the intention. You just got a rare glimpse into the world of the Agency Recruiter. Now you know how we tick, and how your behavior can affect our results. Therefore, I encourage you to continue to use our services, and remind yourself why you originally engaged us in your recruiting efforts. Your reasons will likely match the answers to my Survey Group’s final question: “What value do we provide our clients?”
-We give our clients their jobs back! When they are not screening, scheduling, checking references, networking, and asking for referrals, they are attending to the rest of their responsibilities. Let us do the footwork!
-During the recession, Human Resource Departments were decimated. But Recruiting real talent cannot stop. View us an extension of your HR Division!
-We provide industry (or market) specialization, and a network to go with it! What may take the client months to place…we might be able to accomplish within weeks.
-Empty positions cost a company money and customer loyalty! Rather than settling for someone that you could find in a short time…use a Recruiter to produce a larger selection of qualified and interested candidates.
-If the client is uncomfortable calling desirable employees from their competitors, reach out to me! I’ll do the calling!
-If the client is at the end of his/her rope…and if they’ve looked everywhere for the perfect candidate…
I might be the solution! I might be aware of the person for which you have been combing the earth!