Talent Acquisition

How to Separate Good Clients from Bad

As a sales recruiter, you don’t want to find yourself stuck with clients who place little value on the recruiting process, or worse yet, fail to treat employees and that precious talent you’ve been working so hard to build trust with the respect they deserve.

Unfortunately, far too many recruiters allow themselves to fall into this trap.

It’s no walk in the park working with a client who doesn’t value recruiting or understand the needs of their employees. High turnover rates and other hiring issues are sure to follow when you’re stuck with a bad client, and in these situations, everybody loses.

So how do you avoid landing a lousy client? Here’s how you can spot the wolves in sheep’s clothing:

Why many commonly fail to understand recruiting

There’s no denying that recruiting can be a complicated process, but unfortunately, many companies (especially startups) fail to understand just how important this process can be. Weak recruiting efforts can have a huge impact on a company’s overall well-being. Whether a startup is unable to fill a position for several months or is only able to hire a weak candidate, the potential fallout from weak recruiting can lead to costly delays and decreases in output.

While many companies attempt to alleviate this problem by hiring a professional recruiting agency to identify top candidates and evangelize on their behalf, they fail to realize that recruiting involves much more than getting candidates to walk through the door for an interview.

In reality, the recruiting process should be fully engrained in everything a company does.

Think about it. Company culture and values have a direct impact on every aspect of a client’s business—from the way they treat their sales staff to how they approach the candidate interview process. If they don’t treat your employees fairly, that will bleed over into recruiting, and top candidates will flee.

Far too many companies fail to take this “big picture” approach to their recruiting efforts, and as a result, they tend to focus on the wrong priorities or even mistreat candidates during the interview process.

When you’re on the dark side

The aforementioned failure to understand recruiting lays the groundwork for disaster. This is the root cause of many of the issues recruiters face with their clients, which leads to a bad experience for everyone involved.

While it isn’t always easy to spot a bad client from the get-go, there are a few warning signs that should always set off alarm bells in your head.

Poor clients often have terrible communication skills, a problem which stems from their unwillingness to prioritize the recruiting process. They may not be transparent about what they need and why, are frequently unable to discuss (or even consider) ways in which they might need to improve, and are prone to flipping the script at the drop of a hat.

In short, they have no interest in collaborating with you to create a cohesive, positive recruiting experience.

Not only does this make it more difficult for you to do your job as a recruiter, it also tends to result in a negative candidate experience. Too often, these bad clients don’t really care about the candidate experience at all. They might low-ball their candidates to try to save a few bucks or play mind games during the interview process to gain an imagined competitive advantage.

When this happens, it doesn’t matter how skilled you are at approaching potential candidates. You probably won’t have much success in helping your client onboard new talent when every other element of recruitment is terrible.

When you’re in the good zone

The above situation is an absolute nightmare for recruiters. After all, recruiting is so much more than the evangelizing you do on behalf of a client. It’s about creating a seamless process that carefully guides top talent into a job where they’ll be the right fit.

This isn’t something that can be accomplished 100% on your own. That’s why the best clients are generally those that already have a decent understanding of how the recruiting process should work. They know what kind of talent they’re looking for. They’ve worked hard to create a strong company culture, and have taken efforts to engrain that culture into the candidate experience to help potential employees feel valued—regardless of whether they’re hired or not.

These clients don’t view recruiting as drudgery, but rather, as a crucial part of what drives their company forward. At the same time, however, they’ve recognized that they can’t get the results they need on their own.

A quality client is so much more than the mere opposite of the “dark side” clients described earlier. These clients value open and direct communication, providing you with helpful insights regarding what they need, while at the same time, being willing to listen and adapt their recruiting approach in order to achieve better results. They understand that they don’t know everything, and are willing to rely on your input to make changes for the better.

Even more importantly, however, these quality clients have created a work environment where candidates want to stay around for the long haul. They offer engaged leadership, fantastic growth opportunities and of course, fair compensation. They do their absolute best to demonstrate their commitment to their employees during the recruiting process to create a positive candidate experience and find the right fit.

The best clients realize that recruitment is a collaborative effort. It’s about working together to identify and approach top talent, and then providing a meaningful recruiting experience that will draw talent to the company.

Why this matters

It’s tempting to think that the success or failure of any recruiting effort depends entirely on the quality of a recruiting specialist, but this simply isn’t the case. Experience has shown, time and time again, that this is a partnership.

When your client values recruiting and makes an active effort to understand what their role is in this process, you’ll be in a much better position to successfully reach out to top candidates. As you collaborate to set achievable recruiting goals in line with your client’s values, you’ll also be able to bring in the right talent.

Long story short: when this happens, your client will be happy. Their new employees will be happy. But most importantly, you’ll be successful in accomplishing what you’ve set out to do.

Wrapping up

Identifying the wolves lurking in the woods of the recruiting world will save you a lot of headaches and a lot of wasted time. As you identify the good clients from the bad and choose to only work with the best, you’ll be better equipped to lay the foundations of your own successful career as you work together to create a strong recruiting platform.

About the author: Amy Volas is the founder and “Chieftain” of Avenue Talent Partners.

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