Today’s guest blogger is Bill Benson with WilliamCharles Search Group located in Grand Rapids, MI. WilliamCharles is an executive search and professional recruiting firm specialized in finding managerial and executive talent in finance, HR, operations, sales/marketing as well as president/CEO roles. They have a concentration of clients in Michigan but they also work across the US. Bill is the chairman of the NPAworldwide Board of Directors. Bill shares his thoughts on bad job orders and how to reduce the amount of time you spend working on those.
Can we agree that time is our most important commodity? More time is wasted on bad job orders than any other aspect of our business. What determines a good job order? Below are concepts, suggestions and questions to help you evaluate the investment of your time!
- Engaged. No doubt the best search is engaged right? I would argue… usually, but not all the time. If you ask for a 5K engagement fee and are committed to follow through to eternity, then 5K is not enough. Qualify the opportunity and be thoughtful before you get engaged. If the search is equivalent to solving a problem that can’t be solved, then you likely are wearing the proverbial albatross. These words have always stuck with me. “Be careful what you start. It is ten times harder to get out of something than it is to start.” This applies to most everything including your cable television.
- Exclusive if the client is unable or unwilling to pay an engagement/commitment fee. It is difficult to sell the engagement fee unless you are speaking to an executive hiring manager, owner or a top HR person. If your client is a corporate recruiter, generalist or HR manager (maybe any manager) level, then it is most likely that your request for a retainer will go nowhere. When they say no to the retainer, ask for the exclusive. It is human tendency to not want to say no twice in a row. I think everyone understands if you commit your time, then there is some reciprocal due from the client. This is the natural law of reciprocity. If your client doesn’t respect your time, then they probably should be fired.
- Another way to gain commitment…ask for a “Cancellation Fee.” This is a 20-25% fee similar to an engagement fee. This is a fee that would be charged to the client if they decide, for any reason, not to fill the position. If your client doesn’t feel you are owed anything for tons of work and effort, then why are you committing to fill it? Remember your time is valuable. If you don’t respect your time then you won’t be able to sell it as value.
- How long has the position been open? If the position has been open for a long time, then be sure to understand the true reason before committing your time to solve the problem.
- What has been done on the search thus far? I know you get this one.
- What happens if the position is not filled? The best job orders have some inherent pressure for them to be filled. Actual replacement-born job orders are better! Confidential replacements, new positions, succession plan hires have a tendency to be slow and it becomes hard to hold good candidates. It is important to explain to the client the dynamics of the candidate market and the need to move quickly or we will lose the candidate.
- Any reason that you may not follow through to completion on this search? Ask open ended questions to gain a deeper understanding.
- Are you continuing to pursue candidates on your own? What are you doing to attract? If you are competing against your client, then you need to understand your competition.
- What are the steps in the hiring process? The client will understand the need to tell you something if they see value exchanged by handing over the information. Explain in detail to help clients gain an understanding around candidate experience and how the process of moving in sync with the expectation of the candidate will make a better impression and more likely lead to success.
- Continue to qualify the job order as you work it. If you are struggling to get traction with a job, then ask the client if you should continue to spend priority time on this search. They will likely get back to you if something has changed.
- Explain the need for urgency. The onus is on you to consult and explain that candidates are getting multiple offers and counteroffers so the need is critical to make the right impression with a good candidate experience and a competitive compensation package.
- Be clear with client on candidate pay expectations. Clients naturally are thinking about internal issues like budgets, compensation ranges, pay equity, compression or other factors and they may need to be reminded that the candidate needs a specific number to accept.
- Pay discussion with client and candidates should start early and continue through process. This should be an ongoing conversation with the candidate through the process so that when you get to offer state it is not an uncomfortable topic. If you don’t bring this up early and often with the candidate, then he/she won’t let you into the conversation at offer stage. Reciprocity – you need to build trust with the candidate on this subject prior to any offer being made.
- Invest smaller amounts of time on many B or C orders. B and C orders referring to those situations where you are neither engaged nor exclusive. The requirements might be difficult to find – aka purple squirrels or jobs that have already been advertised and worked by recruiters. The data shows (I recently heard this from big biller Sean Gill) that you have around a 15 percent chance of filling a straight contingent search versus 90 percent filling an engaged search. Someone is filling these harder-to-fill positions. Understand that if you are going to work on “non-currency” type positions then you need to have 10-15 of these jobs on your desk. Your desk might include 3 A orders and then a dash board of another dozen where you can seek candidates without a commitment. The key to working on many jobs is working on one at a time, or two if they share a similar spec. Focused attention is always more effective than being too scattered.
- Job Order Assortment = bigger numbers. The biggest billers are able to manage their time effectively to focus the majority of time on engaged or exclusive assignments while taking shots at other contingent searches. If you have a first send out goal of 12 (first interviews) for the month then perhaps 4 of them might be targeted referrals on continent searches. This gives you an eight send out goal on your engaged/exclusive jobs. The difference between a good and great year are often found in these “long shots” that you are adding into your send out mix.
Hopefully some of these ideas hit home. Bad job orders rarely lead to placements or income. Remember it is not “what you know” but “what you do” that matters!