08 June 2010

Tell your client: All jobs aren't the same

Thankfully the past few months has seen a return to a decent flow of jobs for most recruiters. The recruiters currently operating in the Australian market have been helped by the downsizing or demise of some of their competitors. As reported by industry news service ShortList on 28 April 2010; ‘207 agencies shut up shop between September 2008 and December 2009, and 4,241 recruiters left the industry according to data from lead generation company, ProShortList'.

During 2009 most recruiters worked on any old jobs just to keep the doors open. It looks like that time, for a majority of recruitment firms, is now behind us.

This brings back into focus the skill of prioritising jobs. You might be surprised to hear that I call it a skill. ‘Surely', I hear you say, ‘it's obvious which jobs should be given more time and attention!'

In my experience, it is not obvious to many recruiters.

Many recruiters seem to work on jobs based on which clients yell ‘it's urgent' the most often and which jobs have the largest potential fee attached to them.

This is rarely to smartest way to prioritise working on vacant jobs. Always prioritise your vacant jobs according to the level of your client's commitment.

Here are my suggestions for creating a grading system with your jobs and the suggested time allocation for each category (with respect to the time you allocate to working on assignments).

‘A' jobs: Retained (perm), exclusive and with those clients that you rate as important to build a stronger, long term relationship with. (60% of your time)

‘B' jobs: Exclusive, contingent and with those clients that are important to build a stronger, long term relationship with. (25% of your time)

‘C' jobs: Contingent, multi-listed jobs with those clients committed to move quickly through the recruitment process. (14% of your time)

‘D' jobs: All other jobs (1% of your time)

Not all jobs are equal and should never be treated as equal. But here's what's most critical: You should tell your clients that you don't treat all jobs as equal and here's why:

If a client thinks you work just as hard and you are just as committed to filling their job, whether they give it to you exclusively and retained or whether they give it to you as a contingent and multi-listed job, then what's their incentive to pay you money up front or provide exclusivity?

Paying a retainer or providing exclusivity allows the recruiter the opportunity to undertake a thorough recruitment process rather than compete in a resume race with other agencies, a process that rarely provides a satisfactory outcome for recruiters, clients or candidates.

Clients need to be clear in understanding that there is an advantage to them by paying you a retainer or providing exclusivity on the job, otherwise why would they do it? Clients aren't philanthropists - they are business people, consistently making decisions about what's in their best interest and the best interest of their organisation.

What do you think would happen if you tell a client that their job is a low priority for you and also tell them the changes that they would need to make for you to make their job a priority (eg retainer, exclusivity, client interview candidates as soon as suitable candidates are referred etc)?

I'll tell you what will happen - the client either agrees to make a change (a win to you) or the client tells you to go jump and takes their job somewhere else, to waste another recruiter's time (also a win to you).

As recruiters, we should be proud of what we do and consequently put great value on our own time, skills and professionalism.

If we fail to prioritise our jobs and consequently provide basically the same level of service and commitment to each job, regardless of each client's level of service and commitment to us, then we are guilty of perpetuating the reputation of ‘all recruiters are the same', which none of us like to hear.

Are you ready to take a stand?

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