Today’s guest blogger is Phil Chappel of P. Chappel Associates in Basking Ridge, NJ. Established in 1996 and a member of NPAworldwide since 2003, P. Chappel Associates is a boutique search firm specializing in the software and electronics technology sector—recruitment and placement of engineering, design/development, management, marketing/sales, manufacturing, etc. professionals. Phil is currently serving on the NPAworldwide board of directors. Below, he shares his thoughts on how strong relationships can help you maintain recruitment revenue during an economic downturn.
Recruiters need external partners and a large, solid client base to maintain recruitment revenue in challenging job markets.
My intent was to talk about the importance of having external recruiting partners in a down job market, but it has been written about many times recently. Even though I will address that, I’ll also include the importance of having many clients and why it is imperative to have both of these in place during good markets so when downturns hit, you can leverage these relationships.
Whether you are an independent recruiter or in any size recruiting firm, if you have not been in the recruiting field for at least several years, you have not seen a market downturn. Even though the slowdown of 2023 will likely be a blip and certainly nothing like what we experienced 15 or so years ago when many firms went out of business, you still may have to tighten your belt. The good news is that there is still business out there and if you have been preparing for a time like this, you can make it through successfully.
Develop external recruiting relationships
As mentioned above, having a relationship with recruiters external to your organization or being part of a recruiting network is something you should seriously consider when the job market is great. This is even more critical when the market is slow, but if you already have strong relationships in place, it can help you make it through tough times. Most of your clients are not hiring or have cut back? Hopefully some of your partners have jobs that they need filled and since you have time, you can find great candidates for them. Finding great candidates is key, as companies are overwhelmed with average ones and need you to produce those who are head and shoulders above what they are seeing from other sources. Practicing this will also bring you more business in the long term since you have not wasted anyone’s time and have been a true asset. Now is not the time to be presenting low-hanging fruit to your partners or clients. I have been part of a recruiting network for 20 years and in addition to helping me in tough times, I always make a few split placements per year. There are many benefits to being in a recruiting network and the fact that I have developed deep, lifelong friendships is an added bonus. In challenging markets, having these relationships are even more important.
Always have a large client base
In addition to collaborating with external partners, having more client companies than you need in a good market will help maintain your recruitment revenue stream when we have tough times. The more and broader base of active clients you have, the more jobs you will have access to filling. I view business development to find new clients as a continual process, one that you should be doing even when you have too many clients and open positions to handle. Always ask who is hiring, present your best candidates to hiring managers at companies you are not familiar with, or prepare a list of a few new potential clients in growing sectors to contact weekly. You will start to gain more clients and foster relationships which can be key to keeping your business steady. Being part of a network or being close with external recruiters also allows you to effectively fill jobs with your clients that are not in your specialty. When you are in the position of having too many jobs to fill, this is one way that your external partners can help you immensely to make a good year a great year. Not too many things make me happier than sending a partner 50% of a fee or having half a fee dropped in my account!
In summary, join a network or develop relationships with outside recruiters in good times. Having signed contracts and strong relationships with many companies when the job market is robust will help to sustain a healthy recruitment revenue stream when a slowdown hits. If you wait, it might be too late. Position yourself correctly and you might come out of this stronger than ever.