When I opened my recruiting firm in 1990… well… I kinda, no I did… SUCK! In my first year in this business I only cashed in $23,000 personally. Even if you adjust for inflation, maybe if you’re kind, we come up with $50,000 in today’s dollars. I did everything the wrong way... client development, time management,prepping, closing, training, leading, etc.
I remember struggling and watching one of my favorite shows in the 90’s, Seinfeld. In one episode, George was so frustrated with the way his life had unfolded that he figured most of the decisions he made along the way were wrong. He surmised that if most of his decisions were wrong, then the “opposite” of those decisions was probably correct. The show was hysterical in that it laid out a few scenarios where he did the opposite of what he usually did… and got much better results.
OK, sure, the above is a sitcom, scripted to make us laugh and get great ratings. However, that show inspired me into some introspection. I was frustrated with where I was professionally as a recruiter at the time.
What was the quality of my business decisions? Why wasn’t I getting the results I wanted? What information was I basing my decisions on and was that helpful or hurtful?After several frustratingly poor and mediocre years in this business doing $200k to $500k as an office we found ourselves doing $3 million three years later. It would be a great story and great print if I could honestly say the character of George Costanza on Seinfeld solely inspired me to these results. That would be a lie. It was, however, one of the elements I did use in my decision making and would joke with my recruiters when things didn’t go our way that “the opposite must be true!”Over the next few weeks I will share with you a few key strategies we changed and/or implemented that allowed me to completely alter the paradigm I was operating my business under previously. This month I will focus on the recuiter client development piece.
Client Development Paradigm: “The customer is always right.”
For YEARS I genuflected to prospects and worked their messed up recruiting processes and believed promises that they were different, that their processes worked and that they would be responsive. “Work our way/for our low fee and we Promise to give you TONS more business!” That one should be added to the all time lies Hall of Fame along with “I’ll respect you in the morning!”
Here’s how I changed. This didn’t happen overnight and it took a bunch of trial and error. It’s a process. If you follow it you will get rich in this business. In the case of the customer is always right, the opposite is often correct. The customer is usually wrong about working with a recruiter. It is surprisingly rare you find a prospect, that without your coaching and advice will work with you for a fair fee, with a streamlined recruiting process, be considerate of what they need to do to attract great talent. For years I worked hard at uncovering talent and then watched as the client/prospect messed it up.
I kept expecting THEM to get better! I kept expecting THEM to change. As Einstein said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results!”
First, let us look at why clients treat recruiters the way they do. Here’s the big reason and I am going to be VERY blunt! The big reason we are treated poorly is that we brought it on ourselves.
There are a large number of recruiters and recruiting firm owners (none of the readers of this weekly Ezine of course) who pull resumes off job boards, the internet and email them over to their clients… without even calling to qualify them first. OK, some recruiters pull these people off job boards and they do qualify them, but go no further or deeper to develop talent… maybe they do some cursory work on LinkedIn, but they don’t go wide and deep for the client, nor do they even try to propose this as an option!
If your recruiting marketing proposition is simply that you are going to find “top talent” you sound like EVERYONE ELSE in the recruiting profession! Forgive yourself, most recruiting training teaches you to do EXACTLY this! You have commoditized your service making it very difficult to sell exclusives, engagements and yourself as THE sole source provider of talent in their company or at least on your client’s team.
So how do you fix that? How do you get recruiting clients to work your way, pay great fees and give you exclusives/engagements? I could write a book on that. For the purpose of the article, let me give you some ideas to start.
1) Change your mindset. Their process is broken or at the very least inefficient. You can’t tell them that, you have to get them to tell you it’s broken. How? Stop telling them how wonderful you are and ask great questions! i.e. What would you describe as the quality of the resumes and the candidates you traditionally see when you fill this position? Do you feel that working with 3 recruiters increases the likelihood of you finding the best available person on the market? Are you open to hearing about our process of discovering truly hidden talent in your market?
2) If they answer they are thrilled with the talent they are seeing, ask them why they are talking with you. It would make no sense that if they were thrilled with the level of service they were getting from other recruiters that they would entertain putting you on the search. If they are truly happy, WALK AWAY! Here is one thing I have learned in my life. People want what they PERCEIVE they can not
One of two things happens when you say… “Geez Mr./Ms Hiring Mgr, sounds like you are thrilled with your talent identification process! If that’s the case, you don’t need me. Here’s my contact info if something changes.” I am telling you; seven out of ten will say something to the effect of “well, I wouldn’t say thrilled!” If they do and you make a statement… game over. The proper response to that statement would be “Say more…” or “How so?” Remember… get them to ADMIT what is NOT working!
3) Tell them EXACTLY how you will fill the position. This was a game changer for me. I stopped talking about great candidates and shared my step-by-step recruiting process for discovering great candidates. Again, too long for this article but if you simply write down all the things you do, from the research stage, calling the candidates and the quantity of candidates you will call, your unique approach to them when the pick up the phone, your assessment process, evaluation and closing process, etc they you will generate confidence. Why? NO ONE does this. Everyone “pitches quality candidates”, no one discusses how they engineer (key word there.. engineer) a process designed to uncover great talent. This one distinction landed me millions in recruiting fees… MILLIONS!
When I started in this business I made a bunch of statements, selling propositions to prospects on why they should use me. I then told them why they should work my way. Sure I made some occasional, random placements, but, I was just an average performer. The opposite of statements is questions. When I started doing the opposite of what I was doing at the time my recruiting billings and my firms revenue exploded! What are your “opposites” you can consider working on in client development?
On my next post look for my “opposites” on how I hired and trained recruiters! I completely messed that one up for years too!!!