Now bear with me on this; I’m just as culpable as you on this one. We all have clients we deal with who we get on with like a house on fire, knowing exactly the kind of candidate they need for their numerous roles. We’re guilty of taking half-arsed job specs for them because, let’s face it, we know the client and we know what they want… right?

This is a trap I fell into many times and it’s one I am trying my damnedest to climb back out of. You see, it’s far too easy when ‘Dave’ from ‘Global Sprocket Noodles’ calls and says “hi Paul, how was your weekend? Listen I need a fella for the Ramsbottom branch, you know the kind of guy I want”. The reply 99 times out of 100 is “no problem Dave, I’ll get some CV’s across as soon as”. Now we may have somebody in mind that fits Dave’s idea of the ‘perfect candidate’… but how the hell do we really know that, with only 2 pertinent pieces of information; Ramsbottom and Sprocket Noodle?

Understand the role

What we need to do is ask the right questions (I know, I sound like a bloody recruiter). The right questions asked at the start of the conversation will make your life a hell of a lot easier in the long run. So this is how it goes. “You know the kind of fella” needs to be addressed with “yes Dave, but can I just get a few more details from you, such as….” Then take a proper job spec.

You’ll likely find the Sprocket Noodler needs not only to have a HND in Sprocket Noodle 101, but also at least a C&G in ‘Widget Firtling’. The CV you thought was a ‘call-off-the-search’ was in fact a’ back-to-the-drawing-board’.

Sell the job

A good job spec can also make your life easier when calling Brian ‘King of Widget Noodles’. For example when Brian asks “does that job come with a company car or do I need to have my own wheels”? you have in front of you a plethora of information to dazzle him; “Brian, not only does it come with a company vehicle, but it also has a fuel card with it so you won’t be out of pocket when filling it up”. Incidentally, Brian is a good Yorkshireman, hence the accent (you will now go back a read the paragraph in a Yorkshire accent).

Don’t Alienate your core business

By this I mean both your best client and the candidates you work with. No matter how well you get on with Dave, sooner or later he is going to get annoyed at the amount of CVs coming his way which don’t fit the bill. Candidates will not thank you for wasting their valuable time being interviewed for a role which you pitched as ideal, but is actually about as ideal as (insert stock chocolate fireguard or similar analogy). As a recruiter your reputation rules, so if you get a bad one (and I don’t mean that time at the work do with Debbie from accounts) then your work and ultimately your billings will suffer. When that happens you are on a hiding to nothing, which leads me on to my next point.

Don’t get too comfortable

We’re all guilty of getting a little too comfortable with clients at times, resting on our laurels. I too fell into the all-too-easy trap of client familiarity, but with the help (for help read shouting) of my line manager I can honestly say my job is now infinitely easier. Dave is even happier and Brian loves his shiny new Mazda.

To dazzle Brian, please Dave and make your job easier, a good job spec is quite literally gold.

*Sprocket Noodles are made up (sorry – again)

*As is Widget Firtling (I know it sounds plausible)

*Ramsbottom is a real place in Lancashire 

About the author: Paul Murphy has been working for SER Limited in Engineering Recruitment for over 11 years specialising in the intelligent buildings sector – especially BMS (Building Management Systems). He is also it seems a part time keyboard warrior on behalf of recruiters everywhere.

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