I found the perfect candidate for a new client recently. He is everything the client described as being an ideal fit. I should mention this is in an extremely tight market sector, where everybody knows everybody, or at least “knows of” everybody. The problem is that this candidate’s current employer also knows he is very valuable and has him working on the top projects, in the corner office with a nice comp package. It seemed as if this was too much of a long shot, but that is what my job is – take the long shot, right! So I presented my client to him, held my breath and hoped for the best. That was when he told me he was deeply interested in my client and they would be the only other game in town he would even consider….except. … That is a challenge offered by the candidate, and I accepted.
My plan was to research all of his objections and find very reasonable and undeniable ways to overcome each and every one of them. Quickly, I realized I needed help and may be in over my head as the field was new to me and there is no way I can create a truly valuable crash course. So my only option became apparent – I have to ask the client for assistance on this one. After all, I know they will thank me for it when I reel this guy in and they celebrate me for my recruiter prowess… right?
This is a risky move though. Possible Negative: I will be running the risk of seeming incompetent, not up to the task, not an expert in their market sector. Possible Positive: Or I could use this as a way to get tighter with them, while at the same time selling them on the candidate early on in the process. Possible Negative: I have to be careful, as well, that I do all the legwork. It is crucial to strike a delicate balance between enlisting their help as a source of critical knowledge about their firm, while still seeming to be the expert in my field who is worth the fee. Possible Positive: I demonstrate a desire to become an expert on their firm and bring them the exact right people – ultimate goal in client relationship building anyway!
Another risky piece of this scenario – remember, everybody knows everybody in this area, and it would not take long for him or her to connect the dots, therefore I need to give them limited candidate profile info, while keeping it interesting. Confidentiality is at the core of my recruiting ethics and principals, and I refuse to ever be the recruiter who intentionally crosses that line. That said confidentiality breeches happen. Stick around recruiting long enough and it will happen in spite of your best efforts. After all, we are dealing with human beings, and they talk!
STRATEGY. There are a few clients I have worked with through the years who truly stand out as having very effective recruiting processes and guiding philosophies. I always draw from my experiences with them as a guide in working with a new client. This strategy has served me well in helping clients formulate streamlined approaches to recruiting efforts, and made me a valuable “team member” along the way. But it takes time and experience with each other to develop. I have four top clients – two do it one way - and two do it the other way.
Carte Blanche approach: Two allow me direct access to whoever within the company may be supervising the hiring need. One will quickly organize a conference call between himself, the supervising manager, and me - so together we know how best to proceed with the candidate. That helps me get to know the key players within the company, plus it gives me an added advantage in my candidate conversations. I sound like I truly understand my client – because I do. It builds trust on both sides. That connection with the immediate supervisor is crucial as I guide the candidate through the interview process.
The other gives me direct access to key department heads without him in the conversation. Those conversations can be great because their boss is not on the call and a lot of times they will provide me an even more realistic look into their corporate culture, plus I get to know the personality of the direct manager better, again helping in candidate recruitment.
One Point of Contact Only: Two of my very best clients choose to be my only point of contact. The first does not allow me direct access to his managers. However, due to the extent of his influence and knowledge of his company - it works. He answers all questions thoroughly, to my satisfaction, and has spent many hours training me on how his company, not only recruits, but also operates in their market sector. It was essential for me to visit their offices and meet them, at which point I did meet their folks and saw everything firsthand. I use that “peek behind the curtain” in every recruiting call on their behalf.
The other single point of contact client has made it his business to know as much as possible about who is who within the competition. Thereby educating me on who may add value to his company. This relationship is built on a tremendous amount of trust because he knows he needs me to steal people, yet, he already knows most folks in his competition and could send out feelers through his network to find out if they are interested. So we have open strategy talks where we discuss possible prospects – crucial point - with the understanding they are just names of folks in the industry, and he tells me if I should pursue somebody – makes my life so easy!
It is no coincidence that all four of these companies are top performers in their industry. Rarely, do I have to overcome objections and innuendos about the client’s reputation. I believe it is all connected to a operations management based recruiting strategy that aligns with a their corporate culture. This is the type of scenario that helps me define a truly valuable client versus a company who just needs bodies. Now all I have to do is get that candidate who started this whole discussion to move forward with my new top client – wish me luck!