When your client says “send me the résumé”….you say this!

The fact is you make a placement only if your candidate gets an interview.

So your job as a recruiter is so much more than sourcing the talent and making the match. As important as they are, it’s all a waste of time if you don’t get your candidate sitting opposite your client.

And so you find yourself enthusiastically telling your client about this great candidate for his job, which he has told you he is desperate to fill. The candidate is a perfect fit, but of course, she has other interviews on the go. So you need to get her that interview fast. Your client listens, agrees she ‘sounds great’, and then utters those fateful words. “Just send me her résumé and I will get back to you”.

Mediocre recruiters do just that, and if the client reverts at all, it’s usually all too late, and a competitor quickly places your top candidate… somewhere else.

So, your job is to push back. Find a way to get that candidate an interview. And it must be done on this call, right now.

Here is how:

Firstly, you say,

“I will send you a résumé Mr. Client, in due course. However it’s clear she is worth you seeing quickly, as she fits your role so well. In fact I will stake my reputation with you that you will not waste your time seeing her. She is a prime candidate, and I want you to secure seeing her before she goes to one of your competitors.”

Then, if the client needs more persuading, you elaborate,

“Mr. Client, while I do have the candidate’s permission to talk to you, she does not want to hawk her résumé around town. Between the candidate and I, we have isolated just a handful of opportunities she is interested in. Yours is one of those. She is a perfect fit, and is keen to work for your company. We really should move fast to see her, and let her know that you want to see her, or else we allow her other options to have an advantage over you. It is best we set up a time now, and the résumé will follow well before the meeting.”

But then, if required, you have the clincher. So obvious, so true, but hardly ever raised by recruiters in this situation.

“What is there on the résumé Mr. Client that I cannot tell you in far more detail right now?”

How brilliant is that? It cuts through everything. I mean, what can a piece of paper tell a client that you, who interviewed the candidate, reference checked the candidate, and has a relationship with the candidate, cannot tell him far, far better?

Indeed, there are many critical hiring criteria that a résumé CANNOT tell the client, but you can. For example.

  • Her personality. She is honest, sincere, believable, humorous, charismatic, determined. These are the types of characteristics crucial to success in many jobs. Does a résumé expose those?
  • Her attitude. She is co-operative, a ‘can do’ person, willing, cheerful, a team player. Again, clients talk so much about culture and team fit, and you can offer those insights, while a three-page résumé cannot.
  • Her appearance. She is professional, smart, impeccably groomed. Or, she is hip, fashionable, edgy. We all know that different employers have different styles, and you cannot see that on a résumé.
  • Her circumstances. Under what conditions has she achieved what she has? For example, she hit the sales targets mentioned on the résumé, but she did this without getting any leads handed to her at all. She had to source all her clients from scratch, and what’s more, she did that while her husband was ill, and she had to deal with her kids at the same time.
  • Her real reason for leaving a job. Sometimes these can be sensitive. Maybe there was sexual harassment situation, or a legitimate personality clash, that cannot, and should not, be put on a résumé, where it looks ugly and maybe suspicious. But if it can be discretely explained, in many cases you can ensure it reflects well on your candidate.
  • You can explain the passion with which a referee endorses your candidate… that is best explained verbally and it has great power to say “The CEO of APEX industries said she was the best Account Director he has ever worked with in 30 years”.
  • On the telephone you can sell real examples of her traits and skills. You can actually tell stories of her achievements, outline how she overcame adversity and detail her wins… not as easy to do on a résumé. And anyway, who says your client will even read the résumé you send him. Mostly they don’t, or they skim.

So, your job is to get your candidate interviewed. Don’t stumble at the first tricky hurdle, which will often be “send me the résumé”. You are a ‘consultant’ and trusted advisor, and advocate for your candidates.

You have the words and the tools, above. You just need the courage to fight the good fight, and get your candidate an opportunity to shine.

It’s in the interview that the magic happens.

Make sure she gets that interview.


So, you read to the end of the article?  You must have thought it was at least OK, right? Why not subscribe to The Savage Truth? It takes 30 seconds and guarantees you get a regular fix of recruiting brain-food, ideas, tips, trends and opinion.


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.

Connect & Subscribe

Subscribe to this blog and join me on social media. I have a lot to say. Some of it even quite good.

Subscribe (Why wouldn't you?)
Facebook (A great recruiter hangout)
Twitter (50,000+ other people do)
LinkedIn (Find out who I actually am!)
YouTube (A great face for radio)
Instagram (Pics of my recruiting travels)
Pinterest (Pin me down)
Google+ (.. because.. it's... Google?)

, , ,

28 Responses to When your client says “send me the résumé”….you say this!

  1. Alan Allebone November 27, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    Wow this one is a beauty Greg!
    To give it credit, It will take a wee while to absorb the contents properly so to fully appreciate it!
    Thanks mate!


  2. Gordon Alderson November 27, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Yet another brilliant blog Greg.
    I am sure you do this yet it might be good to remind all us recruiter bloggers that we need to ask our clients to act.
    After all your suggestions on selling the candidate’s “non-resume” credentials, how about …
    “OK Bill, I’m pleased that you are interested in her credentials. So that we can keep the momentum going your way, which is always important for prize candidates, can we agree then that I will email her resume to you in the next five minutes and that you will let me know by close of business today about a time for you to interview her or not?”
    Sometimes closed questions are best.

  3. A O'Loughlin November 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    Hi Greg. A great article. It has been very interesting transitioning from being in recruitment agency, into an internal recruiter and subsequent user of recruitment firms. I honestly can’t believe some of the terrible marketing calls that I receive. My biggest bug to bare, is when someone leaves me a message to call them back, which I do. And they immediately commence this cold call! First of all, why the hell am I calling them back, particularly when I do not know them! I was always taught not to leave a message as it was not your potential client’s responsibility to follow up. Hopefully this might make one of your next Blogs! Recruiter Etiquette 101!

    • Greg Savage November 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

      You know Anthea, that is a great idea for a blog….recruiter etiquette..from a client perspective. Would love it if you would email me your thoughts on that. gsavage@firebrandtalent.com

  4. Navid November 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    Greg, yet another masterpiece from you. That right there can be a key to success in recruitment.

    In terms of what one of the other posts mentioned, I don’t think there is anything wrong with leaving a message if 1) you have tried a few times and the person simply doesn’t pick up their phone and 2) You leave a legitimate voicemail. I disagree that you should never leave a message.

  5. BenB November 27, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    Devil’s advocate:
    “What is there on the résumé Mr. Client that I cannot tell you in far more detail right now?”
    “I dont know yet Mr Recruiter, that’s why I need to see it”

    • Greg Savage November 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

      Yes, I see your point Ben, but really what we want is a a relationship with our client where we have taken such a great Job Description, have the competencies required so pinned down, have such a good handle on the culture…that a quick chat on the phone should be enough…with the nitty-gritty to follow in the resume
      Of course all that depends on deep communication and trust on both sides
      It DOES happen..(Although not often) …. and that is what we should be shooting for..I think

  6. Glen November 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    Great points Greg. Keep up the good work.

  7. Shane November 28, 2012 at 2:16 am #

    To Anthea’s point…the ONE thing that drives me insane (and I’m a recruiter now) is when sales people call a client and say things like “So what does your company do?” When I was a marketing executive I would do one of two things tell them some outlandish story or tell them to do their research and then call me back.

    It doesn’t matter what you are selling, people or products or ideas…RESEARCH! Don’t ask a question you don’t already know the answer to. Simple rule that folks lately have failed to remember.

  8. Alan Allebone November 28, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    Is it not time that you put all your blogs into a book for publication?
    I am sure it wold be of great interest to many of us.


    • Greg Savage November 28, 2012 at 7:48 am #

      One day Alan… one day. Maybe a semi retirement project? But then I look at you and realise I can’t possibly retire before you do.. so I keep going!

  9. Alan Allebone November 28, 2012 at 7:37 am #

    Reflecting back on how we use to work in the UK when I was managing both contracts and permanent placements.
    We would not send any resumes to clients at all. We had a card system for both candidates and clients.
    We would have the candidate in front of us at our desk and phone the client. Informing him/her of the candidate and having a 3 way conversation / interview. Then I would inform the client that Joe Bloe is available to pop over wiithin the hour and they are on their way. It worked because the client knew and trusted myself and the company I worked for. 9 times out of 10 there was a placement at the end of the day sometimes 2 or 3. Either permanent or contract.
    I appreciate that it may not be possible in today’s recruiting society, but we can practice the same procedure and it is fairly similar to what Greg has mentioned. Calling the shots!!!
    For new clients it worked as I would invite them to speak to one of their competitiors who I was also working with. (A bit of bluff but it worked).
    My fear is that my biggest competititor is not other recruiters BUT THE CLIENT!
    Call the client’s bluff and see if they are serious. Many are time wasters and we can be the losers.
    it is bad enough with a shortage of good candidates so we have to act now not tomorrow. I always ask the client, ” Mr. / Ms Client how long have you been trying to fill this role and what steps have you taken so far”?
    It helps to push your view and get that candidate infront of the candidate immediately!
    Finally I would ask ” Mr./Ms Client if i found the perfect candidate this afternoon, could we get an offer by tomorrow morning”?
    Clinchers? maybe but let’s not wait or waste time as time is money!
    This is also excellent training material Greg, many thanks!
    The oldie,

  10. Alan Allebone November 28, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    haha Thank you Greg

    You lead I will follow!

  11. Andrew Thoseby November 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    There is an alternative approach that I prefer and that achieves the same end. On initially engaging the client we say “We appreciate the opportunity to help you build your team and your business. As we have discussed, we see this as a partnership and we just want to put you in a position to comfortably make great hiring decisions. We will make it our business to understand yours, when we get a brief, we will clarify if necessary, and our ultimate goal is to present you with the one candidate that is the best fit for any role you have. Now that you understand how we work, you understand how this is possible. Until we get to know how you respond, we might need to send 2 or 3 candidates at the outside, but as soon as we have one who is a great fit, we will call you to arrange an interview time”

    • Greg Savage November 28, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

      Good stuff Andrew.. setting expectations and “ground rules” is key

  12. Luke Schanche November 28, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Greg, email has also made it too easy for recruiters to hide behind CVs. Without sounding too old fart about it, having to fax CVs back in the day was such a hassle you only did it once you’d secured an interview over the phone first.
    The queue of consultants putting packs of CVs in the post on a Friday afternoon was also a great pleace to network with the competition !

  13. Shaun Windram November 28, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    Question, Mr Client if I may?

    When you gave me the brief, I took the time to meet with you and really understand your requirements, did I not? May I ask, how would you have reacted if I had responded to your requirement with “please send me the job spec and I’ll get back to you?”

    When works for you?


  14. Gavin Lister December 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    Great post Greg – thanks. Takes me back to my days in recruitment!
    Given the negative rap recruiters often get, how about a post giving your perspective on what the candidate needs to do to encourage the recruiter they are working with to pitch them with this much focus and enthusiasm?


  15. ioana February 13, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    Thank you! And greetings from Romania!

  16. Will February 14, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

    Good post – thanks Greg,

    The only issue with this is when bad recruiters do this with mediocre candidates as they haven’t qualified the position adequately. The client ends up meeting candidates that are short of the mark and become reticent about organising interviews without seeing the cv in future BD calls. It definitely works, but PLEASE with only the very best candidates.

    • Greg Savage February 14, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

      Agree with you there Will..never push an average candidate, let alone a dodgy one. You client will never trust you again

  17. Pauline Rogers March 12, 2013 at 5:48 am #

    This is recruitment as it’s meant to be…but many of the younger recruiters out there have never learnt to do this as they do much of their business via email. There was a time, before email, when we could only communicate with our clients on the phone, and CVs were couriered…so this was the way most recruiters worked.

  18. Gareth November 1, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    Just from a recruiters point of view, I think my main point hankers back to Will’s point – we are jaded by 90% of agencies being poor. We get told they have the ‘perfect candidate’ and we basically get sent tripe – i.e. the first three candidates they could dredge up that are looking.

    EVERY agency (good or bad) says the same thing about ‘working in partnership’, ‘we’re going to lose this candidate if you don’t see them immediately’, all these phrases I hear above. And yet we still get hit by the ‘CV Cannon’ – a spray of barely qualified CVs until something, somewhere, hits the mark.

    So I would suggest NOT using this tactic until you have built up some trust. Because we won’t believe you.

    Sad but true.

    Maybe its not quite the same in the Australian market (when I was working there 7 years ago, it was nowhere near as saturated a market) but here in the UK, 10-20 calls a day from agencies just trying their luck is not unusual.

    As a qualifier, I generally agree with your point – if I’m going to pay you a lot of money, then I don’t want to repeat your job by screening CVs you’ve already done. But the trust has got to be there.

    I would suggest a better tactic, if you truly believe in your candidates, is a slightly amended approach of agreeing to send the CVs, the first time, maybe even the second time, but say each time that if Mr/Mrs Client likes the CVs, next time maybe we could go straight to interview?

    Without that first trust building step, I think you’ll struggle.

    Also, on why a recruiter/hiring manager might want to see the CV is that something that might ring alarm bells with us (and usually something that is very hard to enunciate before seeing it) might not occur to you.

  19. Tim Baker January 21, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    Another option is to ask the client to bring up the candidate’s LinkedIn profile whilst they’re on the phone, this can often give them the reassurance of seeing the career history. If you’re trusted by the client, I can’t think of any in-house recruiter who would want to delay seeing someone of interest, not if they are commercial.

  20. Peter Conlon March 25, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    Absolutely agree Greg, but that we could all be so disciplined, many has been the prospective client who can’t afford the time to brief a recruiter properly and says ” just send me some resumes” and following the push back they most often become another ex prospect.

  21. Tyson Wescombe September 12, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    I haven’t been in recruitment that long, so I may be living in a naive recruitment world.

    I do how ever like my little recruitment world …

    I understand where this is important and agree with what you have said.
    I however feel that it’s a little disappointing that it has to come to this.

    I feel that I have a massive responsibility to the candidates I represent to make sure I am placing them in the right position with the right people and the right company, or at least as close as possible to what the current situation may be.

    Because of this I really make an effort to try and work with clients that I can really partner with.
    Clients I can spend time with and have multiple people I have relationships with.
    Clients I am involved with outside of recruitment.
    Clients that share my vision and are bought in to the processes I go through.

    When I have this, I honestly don’t have to worry about what you have said.
    I am always in a position where I can either present in person or have that conversation, because my client already knows my process and why it is important.

    Writing this comment was an instant response to what I felt when I read this article, so it may be a bit unclear but I guess the point I am trying to make is:

    If you really care about the candidates you represent and want to get them an interview, work on getting better relationships with your clients.
    Then only work with those you have a good relationships with and keep growing it.

    Let the other recruiters and clients battle it out, I’m sure your candidates would prefer not to be involved in that world anyway.


  1. What YOU say when your client says “send me the résumé” | Greg Savage | Recruiter Resources and Tips - June 3, 2013

    […] What YOU say when your client says “send me the résumé” | Greg Savage. […]

Leave a Reply