The client's bill of rights
Late last year I spoke at Careers24's successful Recruiter Boot Camp event. In planning for the Boot Camp I looked at one of the most frequent complaints I receive from recruiters - the often precarious relationship between a recruiter and his or her client. This relationship can be a tricky one. Like all good relationships it should be built on trust but often complications get in the way. So how do we ensure the relationship is maximised and stays on track? How do we know what rights the client has and when they are over-stepping the boundaries?
Clients can feel resentful paying for a service that they sometimes believe they can do themselves. "We can get candidates from social media sites and online job boards, and there are thousands of them available, and they are really good, so what do we need you for?" is often heard. So what happens? The client begins demanding more service for lower fees and recruiters who are struggling to make their value understood find themselves capitulating – and feeling resentful.
But here is the bottom line – clients have rights. The customer is (almost) always right. And as soon as recruiters understand what these rights are, the client/recruiter relationship shifts to a positive one that shows results.
So what are those rights?
Clients have a right to negotiate price. In fact in today’s highly competitive arena it should be expected. Everyone wants more bang for their buck. The number of companies paying a 15% fee has gone up radically. In 2007, less than 20% of them were paying that. But by 2014 it was over 42% of companies. In the recession, recruiters discounted their fees in order to survive and now the clients are used to paying 15%.
So how do you, as a recruiter, ensure you are paid what you are worth? Well, you negotiate. You have a valuable service to offer and all serious buyers will want to negotiate. “Your fee is too high” is a common response from potential clients. As in “I just don’t have the budget”. To these I like to say, “There’s no question that my fees are high but the other truth is that the position remains open” or “I get that you don’t have the budget but if I find the perfect candidate for you, does that mean I need to take them to another company?”. There is always a little jostling during worthwhile negotiations – the trick is to know when to hold your ground and when to meet them halfway and if you reach a stalemate - don’t be afraid to split the difference.
In today’s market clients expect speed. They have a right to expect you to find them their candidate quickly. For most permanent recruiters the fill time has increased by 50%. We should always aim, where possible, to present candidates within 24 hours. Our service offering in a nutshell should be source, assess and deliver – quickly.
Clients have the right to expect verification. Reference checks have been in decline because recruiters believe that the companies want to do their own reference checking. But we have seen studies that people tell the truth on their applications about 74% of the time. That leaves a wide gap for error. Make sure your candidates are who they say they are.
Clients also have the right to use social media and other online resources. Job boards like Careers24, social media platforms, database emailers – all of these can be incredibly valuable to clients. Online recruitment has made the task of recruiting a lot more accessible to internal recruiters and these resources should not be ignored. In fact, they should be embraced. Show your client that you understand the strategic value of using technology in the search for candidates.
Another powerful (but often intimidating) way to ensure you are offering value is by showing clients that you have access to candidates that no-one else does. Clients have a right to expect this and this should be one of your key service offerings.
Clients also want to know that their recruitment campaign is being managed. They will want to know the status throughout the process, they will expect you to push them when deadlines are tight and above all else they will expect you to be in the head of the candidate at all times. They have the right to this kind of service.
It’s a competitive world out there. If we keep fighting the future with the ideas of the past, we will not succeed. So my advice is - lose the attitude.
Follow Careers24SA to find out when their next Careers24 Recruiter Boot Camp with Demitri Tambourlas is.
About the author
Demitri Tambourlas is a trainer and coach of recruiters and staffing industry professionals.