Controlling our Clients? Surely you’re joking!

by Veronica Blatt

image of ships wheelGreg Doersching is Managing Partner and Founder of The Griffin Search Group, a national search firm working in the direct hire placement industry. He is an active recruiter who still runs a highly productive desk. He also developer and Chief Architect of the highly successful Bullseye Recruiting Process. For the past 15 years, Greg has been recognized as one of the most cutting-edge voices in the recruiting industry. Greg has spoken at several NPA conferences and is well-regarded for his candid approach and recruiter training.

I get asked by recruiters all the time, “Greg, how can I take better control over my clients?” I wish there was some kind of formula that would give you “actual” control; unfortunately that’s not reality, and I’m a strong believer in working inside the real world. So here’s the truth of the matter – the only part of the entire recruiting process that you do have control over is – yourself! This isn’t a cop-out, either. I bring this up because if you want to start having more INFLUENCE over your clients — which is something we can attain — then it starts with how you master yourself.  Here are three areas where you need to be as consistency flawless as possible if you want to earn enough respect from your clients to actually start being able to influence their decisions.

Quality Submittals – The single most important service you provide to your clients is the candidates you actually choose to present and how you choose to deliver that presentation to them. Yet so often I see recruiters sending over marginal candidates and justifying it in their own minds. Our two biggest excuses? “Well, I’ve got to send them someone so they know I’m actually working the search.” And, “I’ll send them this person and then the feedback I get will help me fine tune what I’m looking for.” Both of these justifications are the kinds of things that kill your relationships with clients because clients only see one thing: “You didn’t send me what I was looking for!!”  You want true influence? It starts with only sending candidates who are true fits for the position regardless of how long it takes you to find them!

Professional Communication – The second area where you can gain a great deal of additional influence over your client lies in how you handle communication with that client. I am a firm believer that the more professional you make you communication the more obligated your client feels to respond in a similar professional manner. To this end, I send very formal weekly update reports notifying the client on the status of the search. I send very formal interview debrief reports that detail the candidate’s thoughts on the interview. I go further in sending very detailed pre-search qualification matrix grids to my clients to force them to “sign-off” on my search parameters before I start a search.

There are lots of other tactics I employ to ensure that all my clients’ dealings leave them with the impression that they are dealing with a true professional and as such, a certain level of professional courtesy is expected on their part. I would leave you with this parting thought – do your job with a sense of P.R.I.D.E. (Personal Responsibility In Daily Excellence). If you take the focus onto yourself and work at a high level of professionalism, integrity and diligence your clients will notice. This will result in you gaining the RESPECT that you deserve and this will manifest itself in the influence you have over those clients.

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Headhunter Network Shares 7 Reasons for Slow Hiring Clients

by Dave Nerz

image of turtle representing slow clientsWhen you run a headhunter network, as I do, you hear many good and bad stories about agency recruiting. Lately I have heard that recruiters are growing weary of how slow employers are to act on good candidates. I have been doing an informal survey of what drives this lack of urgency for clients resulting in slow and ineffective hiring decisions.


  1. Unclear Job Descriptions. Sometime the speed to hire is slowed by a lack of job clarity. In our headhunter network, I hear about jobs that start off with one set of expectations and by the time the hire is made, the role has changed as have the salary and the expectations.
  2. Change of Management. Agency recruiters have reported slowed decision-making when ownership and managers change. No one wants to make a hire when the company is in flux.
  3. Complex Interview Process. When the list of employer interviews changes and grows, you can be sure the hiring process will be delayed. Those in our headhunter network indicate the fastest decisions are made when the interview process is defined in advance and is maintained through the hiring process. Scheduling third and fourth interviews is one way to make sure top talent is chased away.
  4. Cost of Open Positions Not Understood. Open positions have a cost. Unfilled openings burden the people that must pick up the overflow of work. For positions that are truly valuable, the revenue lost is measured in most companies as 3 to 5 times the annual salary…real revenue that is being lost. If more companies realized this, they would be focused on adding speed to their process. Many times managers that are not “profit centers” but are “cost centers” view open positions as “cost savings.”
  5. Slow is Better Mentality. It is not uncommon for employers to believe that slowing down the process will help them make a better hiring decision.  There is logic in this belief but members of NPA’s headhunter network agree that it only holds true for the disorganized client that does not have a clear position description, a solid management team, and a proven interview process. For the majority of employers, slow decisions assure that the highest quality candidates will be gone before the decision to hire is executed.
  6. No Sense of Urgency. This is usually an extension of the leadership and perhaps a few of the other items listed above. Unless someone is holding the hiring manager accountable for a timely hire, the hire will be a lower priority than other responsibilities. When employers engage agency recruiting firms, firms can act to hold a hiring manager accountable — but only if supported at the leadership level of the organization.
  7. Failure to Understand Market Conditions. This one is a constant source of conflict between agency recruiters and employers. The agencies understand the shifts in market dynamics and employers tend to be informed by external news media reporting. So the employer hears that unemployment is at near record highs and assumes this means they have the pick of talent just waiting for an offer. They do not understand that for university graduates with 5 to 10 years of experience, unemployment is at nearly full employment levels. That means that anyone really wanting a job has one. Employers can mistakenly believe they are in a job-driven market when the shift to a candidate-driven market occurred in months or years prior.

In summary, slow response time is costing employers money and causing them to lose the best available talent. Competitors are hiring the top candidates while other employers are leaving positions unfilled. Moving too slowly to extend offers to qualified candidates is sacrificing a competitive advantage. Scheduling that 3rd or 4th interview may cost an employer the best talent. Sometimes employers need to learn the hard way. Agency recruiting firms can act to inform employers, but employers need to adopt a “get it done now” sense of urgency in order to compete for top talent in today’s market.


How Agency Recruiters Can Work More Effectively with Clients

by Veronica Blatt

red-fortune-cookieToday’s post is courtesy of guest blogger Kimberley Chesney. Kimberley is the owner of Prime Management Group in Canada, with offices in London and Kitchener (Ontario). Kimberley is a long-time volunteer for NPA, currently serving as Chair of the NPA Board of Directors.

Why is it that clients are asking for so much information before they make a hiring decision? One of the frustrations agency recruiters have is working with clients who are slow to pull the trigger and HIRE!

When this type of thing happens, it is a good idea to learn something. For example, if this is a new client and you haven’t worked with them before, chances are, you don’t know much about their decision-making style. Many so-called hiring authorities are just one link in the chain of command and really have no sole discretionary powers to actually create the offer of employment. Unless you are dealing directly with the owner of a firm, you are likely faced with a situation where there are multiple inputs coming from different parties before the hire actually happens. Your contact may be asking people’s advice from inside as well as outside of the company. Suddenly, everyone becomes “recruiting experts” and they start adding layers of opinions, sometimes clouding and delaying the big decision.

A good practice is for agency recruiters to evaluate how decisions are going to be made before starting the search process. In a bureaucratic “cover your behind” type of environment, you will just need to breathe and take it one step at a time. Delays will happen. On the other hand, in an entrepreneurial environment where decisions can happen quickly, agency recruiters must be prepared to provide the required information in a timely fashion so the client can respond.

For example, how many of you actually do a Google or other type of internet search on the name of your finalist candidate? Sounds simple, but you can be sure those so-called recruitment experts are searching Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. and looking at what your candidate is all about. Agency recruiters who skip this step could end up in an awkward situation if the client finds out something before they do!

Successful agency recruiters never assume they are being paid to provide a name and a resume. A robot can do that. What are you doing to allow the client to make an informed hiring decision? When you send them that invoice for a nice big fee, will they look at it and say, “That was worth it,” or will they be left wondering, “What did I really get for that price?”

Stop and think about what you are actually sending your clients. Is it what they want and need or is it just something you think they should have? Too much or too little? You need to decide — and it will be different for each client!

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7 Questions to Help Independent Recruiters Take Better Job Orders

by Dave Nerz

It is a tough market for independent recruiters, right? The work you do to fill an open position is 2 to 3 times more than what was necessary before the recession. Clients are slow to move and seem to change their minds about what they want, require and expect with each candidate that you expose them to.

So, are you taking good job orders?

  • Is the client being asked to think their requirements through? Or are you doing mind reading?
  • Is there agreement about what the client asks for? Is it written down and confirmed in writing?

Maybe you have a recruitment process; feel free to share your recruiting process via comments to this blog. If you don’t have a formal process, it may be because you have an informal process that has been working…good for you. Does it ever fail you? Maybe you don’t want to “waste the client’s time” when you know what they mean and you have candidates ready to go or can tap into a recruiter networking group to support you with a quick turn on candidates. As a frequent hiring manager at one point in my career, I can tell you my requirements changed from hire to hire, even with repetitive fills. Sometime you just need different skill sets to work with your team chemistry. Maybe a special skill is required to work a special project or with a specific client. I would not assume anything, as the cost of making that assumption is a waste of your time and the time of your recruiter networking group. Independent recruiters who work on a contingency basis only get paid for the time invested that makes a match. Are you really interested in taking on additional risk?

What if you created a simple form that collected some basic information about the job and then asked 7 straightforward questions of the hiring manager?

Basics: Company, Location of the Job, Job Title, etc

Question 1:  Money

  • Base Salary Range…more for exceptional candidates?
  • Bonus…how realistic is a bonus? Based on what?
  • Commission or other compensation available?
  • Benefits…fit to the market…better/same/worse?

Question 2:  Process

  • Who is available to interview?  Three reserved dates  _________, __________, __________.
  • What is the date you want this hire to start?

Question 3:  Required Skills and Background

Must haves:

  • bullet 
  • bullet 
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Question 4:  Not required but would make a candidate a standout. Dig deep here…get 3 good things!

  • bullet 
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Question 5:  Why would the candidate choose to leave a good employer and take this position?

  • bullet 
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These better be good…career path, company equity, flexible hours, high quality co-workers, etc.

Question 6:  The key duties of this job

  • bullet 
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Question 7:  What will this candidate accomplish in the first 3 to 6 months if they are off to a great start?

  • bullet 
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Sign it, and ask the hiring manager to sign it, too. Now I can sleep. I hope you will sleep better and make more placements. I know that doing this will separate you from the crowd of independent recruiters that don’t take the time to do this. It is a good investment and it brands you as a quality recruiter.

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