15 sure signs your ‘client’ does not take you seriously

You call them ‘clients’ and you think they see you as a business partner. Take this quick test and maybe… think again! Tick each statement that applies to you.

  1. They won’t meet you to provide a new job brief. It’s emailed, or given over the phone, or maybe its just a few lines in an email.
  2. They give you jobs in competition. And you are not even first.
  3. When you do eventually arrange a meeting, they keep you waiting for ages, or even stand you up altogether.
  4. They don’t return your calls.
  5. They routinely don’t interview the candidates you present.
  6. They won’t give you sound reasons for rejecting candidates that they have declined to interview.
  7. They demand urgency from you every step of the way, but are slow to come back in a timely fashion themselves.
  8. They don’t give you feedback on the candidates they interview from you.
  9. They arrange second interviews with preferred candidates directly.
  10. They ignore your advice on salary and conditions and… pretty much everything actually!
  11. They raise issues and information, critical to the hire (that they have never told you) with the candidate.
  12. They make an offer direct to your candidate without going through you or even telling you.
  13. They haggle your fee, after the deal is done.
  14. They offer perm jobs to your temps without telling you.
  15. They flirt inappropriately or ask you out on a date.

Score yourself here. Tick each statement that applies to you.

0-5 – Nice job, your clients are treating you as a ‘partner’
6-10 – More work needed to elevate your status to ‘trusted advisor’
11-15 – You don’t have clients. You have tyre-kickers and ‘bikers’

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About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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22 Responses to 15 sure signs your ‘client’ does not take you seriously

  1. Laurie Williams November 8, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    Hi Greg, I think a lot of people (including me) will read this with their heads nodding yes, yes, yes…

    I’m lucky to have a few great clients with whom I have “trusted advisor” status but I’d love to know your thoughts on how to change the tyre-kickers – I imagine I need to change the way I deal with the tyre-kickers?

    My “gut” tells me I’d be better off without them but sometimes the “pressure” of keeping the cashflow flowing is hard to ignore…

    Thanks for your thought provoking post!

  2. Elias Cobb November 8, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    #13 – a pet peeve of mine to be sure!

    I’d also add a #16: The routinely respond to candidate submittals with “We have his information in our database” or “She applied directly 2 years ago” and take those candidates as their own.

    Great post, as always!!
    Elias

  3. Yuriy Shevchenko November 8, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    So what do you do with tyre kickers? Is it like trying to get a would be date who sees you as “just a friend” to become “more than friends” or is it best to fire them as customers and move on, since they’re not really customers anyway? Firing them is a better idea from experience.

  4. Simon Kenna November 9, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    Wow, How negative!! Time and time again you bat people around the head with these headlines “toughen the F@@k up” and “are your clients taking you seriously” without offering and advise to help recruiters battle these issues. WTF

  5. Simon Kenna November 9, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    At least the Americans help with the clean up opperation after dropping nukes!!

  6. Simon Kenna November 9, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    The article is excellent and asks some very good questions about our relationships with clients. However I feel you could add value to the recruiter by offering advise.
    Here goes:

    Q They won’t meet you to provide a new job brief. It’s emailed, or given over the phone, or maybe its just a few lines in an email.
    A “I understand you maybe busy, however its imperative I fully understand your requirement. Otherwise I could find myself not selling your company and opportunity successfully therefore wasting yours and my time with poorly matched and prepped candidates” With that in mind when have you thirty minutes spare in your diary?
    Q When you do eventually arrange a meeting, they keep you waiting for ages, or even stand you up altogether.–
    They don’t return your calls

    A You need to establish convenient times to call maybe out of hours. If after agreeing convenient call back times this problem persists stop calling find new clients.

    Q They routinely don’t interview the candidates you present. They don’t give you feedback on the candidates they interview from you.

    A Explain that proper feedback ensures better candidate submittals, which leads to the client saving time by interviewing properly matched candidates.
    Q They won’t give you sound reasons for rejecting candidates that they have declined to interview. They demand urgency from you every step of the way, but are slow to come back in a timely fashion themselves
    A Negotiate & Close, If I do this, will you do this for me? If the problem persists question their commitment directly
    Q They arrange second interviews with preferred candidates directly
    A T&C’s Unacceptable
    Q They ignore your advice on salary and conditions and… pretty much everything actually!
    A Does the client want to start from square one? Explain why he needs to follow your advise!
    Q They raise issues and information, critical to the hire (that they have never told you) with the candidate.
    A Again, this comes down to taking a proper job specification and asking the appropriate delving questions. Is there I should know that could prevent this placement from happening? Could HR/Director/Project/Other delay or stop the recruitment process.
    Q They make an offer direct to your candidate without going through you or even telling you.
    A Again explain the importance of involving you in the offer process. Explain many candidates don’t accept offers as the client can prematurely offer a candidate without fully understanding their needs and desires.
    Q They haggle your fee, after the deal is done.
    A Agree fees & terms up front. Haggle or don’t haggle –Simple.
    Q They offer perm jobs to your temps without telling you.
    A This will happen from time to time. However it does not necessarily mean the client doesn’t respect you. It can mean the client is very close to the candidate. Again explain this importance of keeping you in the loop at the outset.
    A They flirt inappropriately or ask you out on a date.
    Q Be professional at all times. – Strictly business like.
    Allot of the problems you suggest comes through a lack of the consultant asking opening, probing and closing questions. Moreover, it’s a cliché but recruitment it’s a numbers game – there will always be good and bad clients. The key point is to find more good clients and expose the time wasters.
    I have thrown this together and apologise for any spelling or grammatical errors, however I have two young babies and need to get home to see them.

    Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to comment.
    Kind Regards Simon Kenna.

    • Greg Savage November 10, 2011 at 12:52 am #

      Great comments and ideas Simon, thank you for taking the time to share these…Greg

  7. Yuriy Shevchenko November 10, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    @Simon Kenna, you raise some very good points and scenarios, some of which I grappled with early on in my recruitment career. I am definitely not anyone’s “disciple”, not Greg Savage’s nor anyone else’s but I’ll sum up my point in one sentence.

    Not all clients are created equal and “big” doesn’t always mean “worth having”.

    Time is your scarcest resource in recruitment.

    You will never have enough of it, but there will always be more potential clients and candidates out there than you, by yourself, could ever call, meet or work with.

    Greg’s point is that there’ll be many “clients” who do nothing but suck the life out of you by doing (or not doing) a lot of those 15 things. If they won’t take you seriously despite your best efforts to take a great job spec, deliver quality CVs, hold them to their word to be timely with feedback etc. or any other misbehaviour, BIN THEM. They probably won’t care if you bin them or don’t but it will do wonders for your attitude, figures and self esteem (CRITICAL in recruitment) when you do.

    Have you any idea how degrading it is for the soul to metaphorically crawl into your “client’s” orbit and petition humbly for their business and cooperation? Let your competitors have their lifeblood sucked out of them instead, and cultivate client relationships actually worth having.

    It is far easier to give birth than it is to resurrect the dead, even for us men!

    No one will ever give a damn about your time, career success or indeed your life more than you, no one. Not in this world or the next.
    Good luck!!

  8. Alex R November 10, 2011 at 8:53 am #

    Two words people, “retained search”

  9. Melinda Cordell November 25, 2011 at 12:50 am #

    Thanks again Greg for another GREAT article! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
    Best Regards,
    Melinda Cordell
    The Jacob Group

  10. Melinda Cordell November 25, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    @ Alex R: I totally agree with you! Retained search is the best. In our firm, the way it works is it gives the client a guarantee period, so if they don’t like what they see as far as candidate quality or candidate flow – they can cancel and get their 1/3 fee back. BUT if they do like the candidates (which they almost always do), then we are guaranteed our money for the extra detailed effort we make for those partnership clients, and our clients get the most attention, are on the top of our priority list, and come out happy and with a great new hire. Retained is definitely the way to go! I think it is sometimes hard to sell…but when it is explained properly – retained is really the best for the client as well. I’m strictly doing recruiting now but will soon be starting marketing and I’m so excited to get into this next level of business with clients!
    Melinda Cordell
    The Jacob Group

  11. Peter C November 29, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    Agree with most of what Savage Truth says about clients with a caveat –

    Recruitment – headhuntng is a sales process……..both at client and candidate side.

    A tough client that is not always responsive does not mean they are not worth pursuing. If you’ve decided you want to work with that company for whatever reason, then stick with it. Gaining trust and being someone that is valued is the end game here. If you manage to get the above then your chances of getting a good client are improved vastly. It’s not a sprint, but a marathon. A good client will always give you 1st shot at a role and may actually seek you out before the requirement is completely clear because they may want advice.

    I recall a cold call to a potential client started out terribly – he basically said that all headhunters/recruiters he has dealt with are not very good and do not deserve the fees. By the end of the call, I convinced him to meet with me via providing some insight into what he was looking for and that the current approach would not yield results ( I had no idea at the beginning that he was looking for people). Eventually the company became a client that trusted me and my own knowledge of the market.

    Having difficult clients at the beginning is a good thing – at least you know they are not pushovers and deal with any recruiter that calls!

    Our value is that we talk to the market and likely know more about what’s happening out there than both clients and candidates in regards to talent and skills.

    Insight and understanding, coupled with a bit of charm and personality – I wish I had more of the latter, but the former aspects will do wonders.

  12. Karl Meyer December 1, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    As a job hunter on the far end of the food chain this is very interesting. For the past 12 months I’ve been looking and have been able to translate many employer/agency comments

    “Too much experience” – Too old but we’re not allowed to say that and yes I have had that comment from agency staff many times

    “Don’t match our very tight guidelines” – We’ve basically copied the CV of the guy leaving and you’re not his clone

    “you live too far away” – The Job’s in London and you’re thousands of miles away in Cambridge (2 lines into London) but basically you don’t live above the office.

    “Too Product Focused – need more marketing skills” & “Too marketing focused need more product management skills” in the same Dear John email!

    It sometimes seems that unless you’re an exact clone of the leaver who lives across the road and is neither too young or too old then you have no hope!

  13. Daniel Rose February 22, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    Hi Greg,
    I sent you a quick tweet in response to this post, which I quite enjoyed.
    From the client perspective, I quite often deal with several recruiters and exhibit a lot of the behaviours you mention. It’s interesting to consider why. Mainly, many recruiters seem to deliver a commodity – I can go to any of them without much difference in outcome. Perhaps that’s just me, but very many miss the point of providing an exceptional level of service to differentiate them.
    Also worth noting is the fact that sometimes the client doesn’t want a relationship with the recruiter. There are occasions where I simply want to provide the brief, and make the final decision. Pushing the client too hard for responses in some areas can end up with bad results. For example, if the client doesn’t want a relationship, the maintenance of that relationship takes up too much time and effort. It may be easier for the client to deal with another recruiter who isn’t so pushy.
    In any case, keep up the excellent posts.

    • Bonnie May 7, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

      Thanks for the client perspective Daniel, I agree, you have to judge what type of person your client is and how much contact they are wanting to have, at the end of the day they don’t always have time to deal with Recruitment, sometimes recruiters need to be a bit more pro-active & resourceful in the way they obtain the answers to their questions.

  14. Kevin November 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    Elias, we have all of our registered candidates sign a document stating where their CV is presented currently (through other recruiters and their own efforts). They also tick boxes stating that if our client has their CV already they wish for it to be removed and insist on representation through Identify alone. Touch wood we have not had one issue since doing this. When we present a CV to a client they receive a message stating that this is the case. Hope this helps. The Identify Team.

  15. Lawrie Munro November 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    Hi Greg, Im relieved I did not tick No 15,
    With some pretend clients, I might be inclined to tick Nos 1-14.
    Actualy with those “clients” I’d prbably use them as a candidate source since they probably display the same attitude to their employees as they do to me

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