Is the client always right?
How to get the most out of your recruiter

Written by Beate Oera, Head of Operations

Is the customer always right? Or, in a recruiter’s world - is the client always right? As with restauranteurs, the answer is always ‘yes’, because we are the service providers, and it is for the client to decide what service levels they want. Secretly, though, the answer is sometimes ‘no’.

Recruitment firms essentially provide an outsourced function, they act on behalf of a client, represent them to prospective employees and provide access to talent. We provide expertise and functionality the client doesn’t have, or doesn’t have time for, but as with employees, the relationship works best when it is founded in trust. A good recruiter is an expert in their field, not just a glorified CV introducer. Clients who recognise this, and make full use of their recruiter’s expertise, will gain far more from the relationship.

Here’s how:

1. Trust them with the details of your growth strategy

Recruiters are experts (at least if you’ve chosen a good one!), and are able to advice on hiring processes and growth strategies. They can bring fresh ideas to the table, for example introducing candidates who may be able to bring something different to your firm.

However, in order to do so, they need to understand what your long-terms goals are for a hire or a department, and for the firm as a whole. If you simply give the recruiter a list of requirements for a role, you will only see CVs that match those criteria, potentially missing out on talent because you didn’t take time to explain how you hope this individual will be able to drive your business forwards.

Outside of specific assignments, a recruiter who truly understands your firm can also introduce outstanding talent from their network, knowing that this is an individual you will, at the very least, benefit from having a conversation with.

2. Listen to their advice

If they are telling you that your process is too slow, that your salary expectations are unrealistic or that you would benefit from changing the recruitment format, consider making changes. It won’t always be possible, and your recruiter will understand that, but they will have good reasons for making these recommendations, and will have your best interests in mind.

A successful process benefits both parties in the long run, and good recruiters are not simply pushing for a quick fee, but will work towards the long-term success of your firm.

3. A good recruiter is a brand ambassador

They represent you in the market place, promote your brand and your proposition, and safeguard your reputation, both as an employer and as a firm. A poorly managed process can do damage to your brand, and though a good recruiter will work hard to mitigate this, please listen to their warnings if they tell you that you are in danger of causing damage.

We often speak with candidates who won’t put their CV forward to a firm, because of the reputation the firm has acquired through their treatment of past candidates. A poorly managed process can cost you access to talent in the future. Recruiters have their fingers on the candidate pulse, and will help you avoid this situation - if you let them.

4. Don’t use a large panel

In theory it’s a great idea; get as many good candidates from as many sources as possible, right? But recruiters tend to focus their energy on the clients who engage on an exclusive basis, or who work with fewer agencies. The more you use, the less attractive the assignment will be to each recruiter, as their chance of success goes down. Some recruitment firms even pass such assignments to a junior member of staff.

Furthermore, you lose control of the message that goes out into the marketplace. With a large panel, you likely won’t be able to dedicate time to brief each agency properly, and you will also have a situation where different firms approach the same candidates. This can lead to the impression that the process is poorly managed, or that you are struggling to hire, perhaps because the proposition is unattractive. You will also face an increased workload with more CVs and contact points to process and juggle.

5. Communicate how the process is going

It might seem a good idea to keep other recruiters in the dark, for example when you have a candidate at final stages, just in case it doesn’t work out and you need to go back to them. However, that strategy rarely works well. Recruiters are skilled at managing candidate expectations, and will do their best in the absence of solid information, but they will do a better job when they know what is going on.

Communicating poorly with recruiters essentially means doing the same to their candidates too – a major source of frustration and complaint amongst candidates, who often leave with a very poor impression of the firm. Again, this is not only a question of recruitment processes, but also of brand management.

6. Direct access to hiring managers

This one is important. It is the decision maker who will be able to give the recruiter the best brief and understanding of the role. Using HR or support staff to help manage the process can be essential, but the smoother, faster and simpler this interaction is, the better for all parties. In particular, feedback on CVs or interviews is best given directly from hiring manager to recruiter.

The process often works best when the firm allows direct access to hiring managers, but where HR and other stakeholders are actively involved.

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