There’s a saying in recruitment that goes “you’re only as good as your last candidate”. By this assessment, recruiters are nothing more than transactional customer service agents fulfilling incoming requests as best they can.
To become more to your clients than the last candidate you sent them, you need to evolve from a transactional service vendor to a trusted advisor. Only then will you be able to build a trusting relationship with your client that inspires loyalty and allows you to lead the recruiting process.
How do you move from being viewed as a vendor, who can easily be replaced, to a strategic partner?
- Educate them on your recruiting process. Your client is hiring you to do a job they can’t or won’t do internally. Explain the steps involved in the recruiting process, your strategy for sourcing the best candidates, and the expertise you bring to the table. Clearly state expectations of deliverables from the hiring manager and from you, and set a realistic timeline for completion.
Share your experience recruiting for similar jobs, your industry knowledge and past successes. This is your opportunity to establish yourself as an advisor and reassure them that outsourcing their recruiting needs to you is the right decision.
- Set Realistic Expectations. Do not accept requests with unrealistic timing, candidate or salary expectations. As a trusted advisor, it is your job to recognize when a client is seeking an improbable outcome and address it. Your knowledge of the market, available skills sets in the candidate pool and respective salary ranges is valuable information.
Use it to help your clients understand where they have unrealistic expectations. Work with them to make trade offs so they end up with candidate profiles, hiring timelines and salary ranges that are attainable.
- Emphasize your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). What makes you different than the 10 other agencies who are calling on your clients? You should be able to state in 15 – 30 seconds why you are the best possible partner and what you can provide that other agencies cannot.
Clearly outline what you bring to the table and be honest about any inexperience or lack of knowledge in a particular area. Clients will respect and trust you more if you can confidently state your UVP and are up front about roles or techniques that are outside your area of expertise.
- Present and Maintain a Seasoned Team of Recruiters. Too much turnover can affect your client relationships. You don’t want them to have to speak to and re-train a new account manager every six months.
Maintaining a seasoned team means keeping your recruiters engaged and satisfied. Support their development and give them the responsibilities and incentives they need to want to maintain strong relationships with their accounts. If you do experience turnover, make sure your new hires are properly trained, developed and informed of their clients’ needs before introducing them.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Schedule regular meetings and debriefings with your client. Keep them updated on where you are in the recruiting process and ask key questions to expand your knowledge of the organization and their needs so you can make the best possible placement.
If you’re finding it difficult to recruit for a position, keep your client informed of the issues you’re experiencing and adjust expectations and requirements accordingly. Even if the roles are easy to fill and everything moves along seamlessly, it is still good idea to schedule regular debriefings. Your client needs to know how hard you’re working bring them the best candidates.
Elevating your firm from transactional vendor to strategic partner status isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Once your client recognizes the value you add to their organization and recruiting process, you will gain their trust, loyalty, respect and repeat business.