Recruiters, Do You Terminate Clients?

By Dave Nerz

A recent report in Staffing Industry Review listed the top reasons for staffing firms to turn down a potential business opportunity. Here is what topped the list:


  • 54% Pricing too Aggressive
  • 52% Poor Communication/Lack of Responsiveness
  • 33% Software Interface Issues
  • 29% VMS/MSP Requirements
  • 28% Terms too Risky
  • 23% Difficult Positions to Fill
  • 22% Lack of Trust

In fact, nearly 75% of those questioned reported terminating an existing client relationship in the past year.

While contingent recruiting and retained recruitment are at record high levels of performance, does it make sense to examine your recruitment client relationships? Now that we are into a new year, have you reviewed each client for time invested compared to the return on the relationship? What does it take for you to terminate a client?

What searches are you doing that remain open due to poor client feedback, changing objectives, slow reaction times, or generally unrealistic expectations? Are you recruiting for top-notch hiring managers or for managers that cause good talent to leave quickly? Do you have clients that are slow to pay? Do you have clients with generally lower fees for more challenging work? Do you have a pipeline of new prospects that are likely better clients or are they the cast-offs from your competitors?

If you have a retainer, it may make sense to stay with a client longer than one that is not paying you for your time in any way. As a contingent recruiter all you have is your time. What is your method to walk away and not burn the bridge with a bad client?

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  1. AK Menon, 2-March-2018:

    Thanks Dave for the alert! There are times when amputation of a part is essential for the larger well being.

    Yes, our biggest investments are in the time and the energies we bring to the table. And it is imperative that we pick our own battles to fight.

    Over the past couple of years I have been consciously veering towards those who value our insights and efforts. A big client now isn’t so much a big name, but one who is as much invested in the relationship as I am. Believe me, the extra time I now have, by walking away from the energy drainers, has helped me invest more time in upgrading my skills & reinventing myself, to be better “than yesterday” ! And you know what, there have been instances of the ‘erstwhile clients’ coming back to work on the new terms!!

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