20 April 2010

The 8 characteristics of great clients

You might have gathered from last week's post that I am not so keen on PSAs, especially the ‘panel provider' variety. So what sort of client am I keen on?

I considered all the clients I had worked very successfully with over the long term, when I was a desk level recruiter and these are the common characteristics I came up with (in order) that distinguished them as ‘great clients':

1. $ v time
Let's not be romantic, touchy-feely or deluded here. I loved those clients that I was able to make the most amount of money from in the quickest amount of time. Sounds blunt? Greedy? Let's get real. I was proud of my skills and proud of the candidates I represented and I wanted to generate the best return I could for those skills and candidates. To say anything else would be disingenuous. If the clients didn't think my service represented value then there was nothing to stop them going elsewhere.

2. Exclusivity
Even if the relationship did not start as an exclusive one, I quickly won clients over to exclusivity once they saw how much better the candidate quality was and how time-effective it was for them to deal only with me.

3. Speed
My key clients understood that they were in a race to hire the best and they acted quickly to make a decision on an interview or an offer for an excellent candidate.

4. Feedback
My favourite clients provided specific reasons why they wanted to progress, or not, with a candidate. This helped me provide feedback to candidates who craved it as well as making my job much easier in identifying a more suitable candidate.

5. Advice
The client was the expert in their job and I was the expert in mine. They listened to my advice regarding the salary or rate on offer, skills sought and attitude desired and made adjustments to their expectations, based on this advice, that ensured a win all around.

6. Trust
Almost all temp jobs I filled were done so over the phone, without a resume being sent to the client or an interview taking place. When I was a perm recruiter, the clients booked in the interview time with only my candidate's name and before I sent the resume. All this happened because the clients trusted me and knew that I wouldn't waste their time by sending ‘a body to fill a seat'.

7. Respect
My great clients respected me and my referred candidates enough to prepare for interviews, not keep candidates waiting and, most importantly, fulfill their commitments in regard to ‘next step' processes and timelines.

8. Consistency
I didn't mind recruiting for a ‘tough' client as long as they were consistent during the recruitment assignment and with the candidate after the candidate had commenced employment. I had a label for inconsistent tough clients - they were known as ex-clients.

No client starts out with all 8 of these characteristics, and very few end up with all 8, however the challenge I loved as a recruiter was to use my skills to ‘convert' the untamed client into a great client.

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