Business, Client Development & Marketing
I can hear some of you saying what do you mean “are we really serving your client?” Of course we are, otherwise we would not still be in business. In response I would ask when was the last time you asked your client what they really needed. When was the last time you took the time to sit down and really listen to what the needs of their organizations are?
The focus of this white paper, number seven in the DBAI White Paper Series, is a look at the question of whether you as recruiters are really serving your clients to the ultimate level that you can. Are you really earning the fees you collect for your services? Are you ethically performing what you think the client is asking for in return? When does your responsibility as a recruiter really end?
We have seen many changes occur in the global workplace over the past several decades. Unemployment has been on a roller coaster ranging from very low to record heights. A question of loyalty to our organizations on the part of our human capital assets has been paramount in many businesses. We have also seen an increase in the number of employees jumping to new opportunities because it looks good in their portfolio of skills. We fully cognizant of the fact that as time goes by, things will change.
Read any number of professional journals within the organizational environment – from CFO to HR magazine- one continuing theme is that C-level executives are having trouble sleeping at night over the concerns as to where the talent of the future will come from. They are concerned with locating the right person for the right position at the right time and in the right location. This does not mean ruling candidates out, it means finding attributes among possible talent that can enhance the organization.
In 1973, Allan Cox wrote a classic work entitled “Confessions of a Corporate Headhunter” which laid out the entire process of sourcing, recruiting, referring and collaborating on the hiring of new executive talent. Mr. Cox was an executive with one of the largest retained search firms in the country. In his book he defined your role as that of a mediator between executives who don’t understand their problems and candidates who are out for the fast buck. Assuming Mr. Cox is correct in his views the techniques and resources that are used may have changed, but your primary function has not. As an executive recruiter you are charged with the responsibility to assist your clients in locating, reviewing, and selecting the best possible candidate for the client’s talent capital vacancies. One aspect of this process should be ensuring that both the client and the candidate are well informed as to the total picture of the process. The only party to the process that can readily inform the parties is the recruiter.
We have talked to many recruiters who tell me that despite the definition above, all they do is receive the position requisition and send over the most likely candidate. We do not dispute the intention, however when you confine yourself to a narrow perspective, you have not assisted your client in finding the best person for the job.
Consider these real life examples,
- Where a recruiter made the statement that she would never send on to a client any candidate with grey hair.
- Sony Ericcson and others made it clear to the workplace that if you were unemployed you should not waste their time by applying for the position.
- Recruiters who are set in their silo that they won’t look at functional resumes which better describe the breadth of experiences that they have.
Your client has a problem. They have an open position in their ranks that is costing them dollars. Remaining staff must make up the workload. They are incurring the costs of recruiting new talent. The difficulty maybe that they may not understand what their problem is. You as the recruitment specialist are the route to solve their problem but only if you have a clear idea of what the problem is.
Having been on both sides of the desk we would suggest that to better serve your client you need to change your perspective on your role by following the strategies below:
Strategy 1: Stop playing the game of musical chairs
As children, we all have at one time or another attended the birthday party of a friend where the height of the party was the game of musical chairs. While it was a party standard, it also got old fast as the number of players dwindled. Here you are years later and you are still playing the party game. The difference now is you are not playing based on music but just moving people from place to place with no regard to where it all ends. Take Mary Smith from ABC Corporation and place her in ABD Corporation. Move John Smith from XYZ Corporation and put him in Mary’s position at ABC Corporation. Eventually you will run out of people to move. Whether you want to or not eventually you will have to take talent from one client to fill a position in another one. Where is your sense of ethics regarding your clients?
Strategy 2: Become a true partner with your clients
You receive a call from a client regarding the need for an executive. What you do next determines whether you are service provider or a true partner. Using the tools of the voice of the customer you need to get a complete picture of the needs of your client. Do not settle for a preliminary picture of the need. Work with your client to understand why the position is really open. Understand why they are going in a certain direction. Do not be afraid to question why a decision was made. As we suggested earlier it is time for you to sit down with your client and understand what the expectations of your clients are regarding the open position.
Strategy 3: Recognize the value a candidate brings to the picture
Every person has their own attributes that they bring to the table. As we have moved deeper into the information age, the candidate’s knowledge skills are more important than where he/she has worked. You have taken the time to really understand the needs of your client. Look for the skills that will solve the problem. Take the time to match candidates to positions based on those skills, not some assumed picture of what you think the client wants.
Strategy 4: Don’t stereotype your candidates
In line with the strategy above, each candidate brings a unique mix of experiences to the table. Eliminate from your vocabulary any decision based on pre-conceived thoughts. Just because a candidate has grey hair, doesn’t mean they are past their prime. Just because someone has lost their source of employment during hard economic times does not mean that their skills are no longer of any value to the workplace. Just because a candidate has not remained with one or two corporations for their entire work career does not mean they have lost the skills that your client needs.
Strategy 5: Be willing to take a certain level of risk
You need to determine whether you are a paper pusher or true consultant. Be willing to explain the business case why a particular candidate is the one to solve your client’s problem. Do not settle for working within the narrow view that your client might be imposing. Remember that if you don’t ask the why questions you may not have the real needs that the organization has.
Strategy 6: Gain a sense of ethics
By no means am I lumping every recruiter in this fishbowl but a fair number of recruiters have begun to tell candidates that before they apply for a position they should call the recruiter in order to see if the recruiter has a contact at that employer. Many use this as a source of leads for open positions. Think about how you would feel if someone used you in the same manner.
Strategy 7: Be prepared to present the cost benefits of talent acquisition
Be aware of the cost of various scenarios in the hiring process. In the long run it might be more cost beneficial to offer mobility services then to hire someone, have them stay two months and then have to go through the hiring process all over again. The common assumption is that if you hire someone and they leave within the first year it will cost your client 175 percent of the annual salary to replace, train and get the replacement up to full productivity.
We have tried to present the business case for a new model for the recruitment industry centered around the voice of the customer and understanding the true needs of your client. Your pursuit of this changed model determines whether you are a paper pusher or a true partner with your clients to place the right person in the right place, in the right position, at the right time. Whether you positively respond to the opening question depends totally on how close you come to completing the strategies we have outlined. We totally understand that our suggestions are not human nature as you operate today. Only you can understand how important serving your client’s needs are to your organization and your career.
Daniel T. Bloom is the founder and Managing Partner of Daniel Bloom & Associates, Inc. Founded in 1980, DBAI is a Largo, Florida based human Capital consulting firm. Serving corporate clients nationwide, we have assisted organizations from small real estate firms to members of the Fortune 1000 with various human capital related issues.
DBAI services three niche markets with services to assist organizations to maximize the human capital assets of the organization.
The first niche is comprised of those organizations with fewer than 100 employees who either do not have or never had a human resources department and now find them selves in need of expert counsel on human capital issues. We in essence become their HR department but on a retained basis where they can call us as the need arises.
The second niche market are those corporations with a small HR staff who have an urgent need for specialized human capital services and we can provide the expertise to complete the application of these services on a timely and cost effective basis.
The third niche is strategic human capital project completion for the large corporations on a divisional basis.
The service package of DBAI includes, but is not limited to, the areas of talent management, training, vendor management, policy design, relocation management, process improvement and EEO.
A resident of Florida since 1980, Mr. Bloom was an executive recruiter with several contingency recruiting firms in the metropolitan New York market, a member of the internal HR staff of the ECI Division of E-Systems (Now Raytheon), a licensed real estate broker providing relocation services to corporate clients, an educator and since 1980 a Human Resource Consultant. He is a national member of the Society for Human Resource Management, Worldwide ERC (the corporate relocation trade association), and the American Society for Quality. In addition he is a member in the Tampa Bay area of American Society for Training and Development, Tampa Bay Metro Business Leadership Network and the Tampa Bay Executive Forum. In addition he serves on the Expert Panel for the Round Table Group in the area of human resource issues.
Mr. Bloom received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Parsons College majoring in Education and Certification in Six Sigma from St Petersburg College. He holds certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources from the Human Resource Certification Institute, a Senior Certified Relocation Professional from Worldwide ERC and a Six Sigma Black Belt from St Petersburg College.
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Growth in women's share of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations declined to 27% in 2011from a high of 34% in 1990. While women make up nearly half of the workforce, they were 26% of the STEM workforce in 2011.
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