Recently, I have been working with a medium sized recruitment company in Sydney who has some pretty reasonable billers. I tell you this because they could be really big billers if they just had more control over the recruitment process. Every single one of them understands the importance in theory of being in control but not one person appears to be able to stay in control. This is because they have so many vacancies on, that they rush through the process and try and beat their competitors to the close.
You have lost control when:
· Candidates don’t show up for interview with you
· Candidates aren’t honest with you or don’t return your calls
· Clients won’t give you feedback or return your calls
· Candidates get counter offered and accept
· Candidates receive conflicting offers and accept
· Candidates don’t start with your client or don’t last through the guarantee period.
Control is an interesting concept for recruiters and my belief is and always has been that the recruiter should be in control of the process. That is, all things being equal, the recruiter should know what is going to happen next.
Many recruiters have a weak link as far as client control as far as client control is concerned. Let’s discuss the parts of the process where recruiters tend to lose control (or give the client control).
1. Taking in the job
To be in control of this part of the process, you must know the following:
· How many recruitment agencies have been briefed
· Where is the client up to in the process (ie. How many candidates has he seen and whom did he like/not like and why?)
· How committed is he to the process – I always ask “on a scale of 1 to 10, how urgent is filling this role for you?”
· If I can present a shortlist today, how soon can you interview?
· If you have decided based on what has been said that you will work the job, gain commitment from the client on either exclusivity, tentative interview times for your candidates or commitment to providing feedback within 2 hours of presenting the candidate CV’s.
2. Presenting Candidates
Too many recruiters that I train send through CV’s on e-mail and then wait for feedback. Who is in control now? The client, because you have sent the CV’s and he can come back to you (or not) at his leisure. To stay in control over this part of the process, you must phone your client first to let him know that the CV’s are on the way, then agree a time to phone back the same day for feedback on the candidates. I normally have a 2 hour rule. I call my client at say 10am to advise that the CV’s are coming over via e-mail now and tell him that I will call at 12.00 noon for feedback.
If, when you call back for feedback, the client has not read through the CV’s, ask the client to do it now whilst you are on the phone so you can answer any questions.
If you leave the follow up 24 hours or more, you have lost control.
3. Organizing candidate/client interviews
Ensure that the client agrees that he will provide detailed and timely feedback on each and every candidate interviewed. When organizing interview times, agree a time to follow up for feedback and ask the client to put the time in his diary. If you don’t agree this part of the process, you have lost control again.
4. After client/candidate interview
This is the time to slow the process down and ensure that you stay in the drivers seat. Gain quality feedback on each candidate and close the client on the front runner. “so all things being equal, if my competitors can’t come up with the same quality as X, when will you be in a position to offer X?”
Agree a follow up time and ensure that you follow up. Ask the client to compare the candidates he has seen and resell the benefits of your candidate based on the original (and detailed) job brief you took.
Each time you follow up with the client, create a sense of urgency around the candidate and restate the positive things the candidate said about the client/client company.
A note about salary
If a client gives you a salary range to work within, ie $100-$150K, always close the client up and the candidate down when contacting after the client/candidate interview. This is because you lose control when you start assuming, ensure that all steps in the process are followed correctly.
5. At offer stage
This is another part of the process that consultants seem happy to relinquish control. Never allow a client to speak with a candidate directly. As soon as you allow that, you have lost control over all salary negotiations. If you seek written confirmation of offers, get it immediately. Tell your client that you are unable to give the candidate the offer until you have written confirmation.
At this stage of the process, I always seek client feedback on how well I have performed. I do this so I can then remind them why they work with me and move them up the relationship ladder.
6. During guarantee (after sale service)
I actually believe that as a professional, we don’t take this part of the process seriously enough. This is an opportunity to cement your relationship and stay in control of any bumps during the settling in period. You must ensure that you make time to do your quality control checks, in person if at all practicable. You are responsible for the candidate settling into the client organization and if the candidate leaves during guarantee then you either have placed the wrong person in the wrong job (which should happen only very rarely if you are a quality recruiter) OR your have stayed in control after the candidate commenced with the client company.
Take this opportunity to build your relationship with your client and demonstrate that you are committed to after sales service.
Remember that you are the professional and therefore you should be driving the recruitment process. If you stay in control, you are less likely to be surprised when the outcome doesn’t go your way.