In the eyes of many, the recruitment industry is held in fairly low regard, akin to being “white shoe salespeople” or “body shoppers”. In many instances, I would say that this reputation is deserved. Unlike almost any other professional service, the recruitment industry requires no qualifications, no accreditation, there is no barrier to entry – as a result, my industry is populated by undertrained, undermanaged and often incompetent people.
That said, there are some highly professional recruitment consultants who take great pride in their work and want to deliver excellent outcomes for their clients. As an executive recruitment consultant with over 20 years’ experience, I have recruited well over 2,000 senior roles for my clients. Based on my experience, there’s ten simple things you can do to ensure you have a fantastic client experience:
- Do your due diligence – does the recruiter have extensive industry experience? Do they recruit similar roles regularly? Have they offered client referees for you to speak with?
- Always retain – unlike almost any other professional services industry (law, engineering, architecture etc.), many recruiters will work contingently, meaning they are only paid if they make a successful placement. Many will also work non-exclusively, meaning they could be competing with multiple other agencies, plus internal recruitment, on the same vacancy. And then employers wonder why they get lackluster service. Quality recruitment consultants will expect and deserve to be retained exclusively to fill your vacancy. We expect to be paid for the work we do and in return we will provide the undivided attention required to get you an excellent result. If you want great service, you need to commit to one provider.
- Ensure all key stakeholders are involved in the brief – a quality brief is the foundation for a great recruitment process. If the position reports to multiple people (for example, a CEO reporting to the board, or someone working in a matrix structure), make sure that everyone has the opportunity to articulate their requirements of the role. If you don’t then there is a high likelihood that the presented candidates won’t meet the true scope of role requirements.
- Clarify the recruitment schedule at commencement – in today’s market, candidates are in high demand. They need to be dealt with quickly otherwise they will likely find another job. Commit to your availability to attend interviews with shortlisted candidates, so that candidates are dealt with promptly.
- Provide timely, comprehensive feedback – direct feedback to your recruiter is critical to ensuring they are only presenting the right candidates to you. What attributes of a CV did you like or dislike? Post interviews, the faster and more detailed feedback you provide, the better.
- Be patient – A quality recruitment process takes time, especially if the skillset you are looking for is rare and/or there are some complicating factors (e.g. the location of the role). If you want a comprehensive search undertaken, expect it to take about four weeks to get a robust shortlist.
- Be flexible – Accept the fact that recruiters can’t wave a magic wand and create perfect candidates. You may need to reconsider some attributes of the brief based on the talent available and/or adjust the salary. A good recruiter will be able to give you this feedback.
- Let the recruiter handle final negotiations – The job of the recruiter is to take the emotion out of a salary negotiation, just like a real estate agent does between buyer and seller. As much as you might be tempted to get into salary discussions during your interview with the candidate, I’ve seen far too many placements fall over when employers and candidates try to handle negotiations directly.
- Don’t low-ball on salary – there is nothing more frustrating or embarrassing than when a recruiter is briefed on a role at a certain salary, they present candidates with that salary expectation, and then the employer “low balls” the salary offered. Nothing will jeopardise a placement worse than this and it is very unprofessional.
- Expect excellence – recruitment fees are not inexpensive. You deserve to get exceptional service especially if you have retained a consultant exclusively to fill your vacancy. If they are not returning calls or emails, not meeting deadlines, or presenting candidates that are not on brief, you have every right to take them to task.
I highly recommend finding a recruitment company that provides true search (i.e. headhunting) capabilities. Whilst these services used to be very expensive, there are now providers offering flexible solutions that are far more affordable. Following these ten points will help you to get the best possible outcome for your recruitment process. Hiring and retaining top talent is fundamental to your business success and should be given the appropriate amount of attention.
Written by Richard Triggs.
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