Stop And Get More Client Commitment

Recruiters spend too much time working on client briefings with little or no client commitment.

They spend their days approaching candidates and promoting the opportunity – when in reality candidates are unlikely to even get an interview.

(This only encourages the negative view of recruiters!)

This also means they are unlikely to make enough placements every month to hit their target or earn their bonus.  

(Which leads to talent churn!)

By acting as CV machines, this perpetuates the low perceived value of agency recruiters. How can we expect clients to value the insights and support that recruiters can bring to the process if all they see is a free CV sourcing service?

Who needs to change first?

  • Line managers – Start using fewer agencies & offering more commitment
  • Recruiters – Start saying no to working on client briefings without client commitment
  • Managers of recruiters – Stop your recruiters working on vacancies where they have little or no client commitment “

This was how I started a Linkedin discussion last week.  

The response has blown my mind,  over 170,000 views, 260+ likes and over 30 comments.    

This was how I started a Linkedin discussion last week.  

The response has blown my mind,  over 170,000 views, 260+ likes and over 30 comments.    

I think the reason it ignited so much attention is that it cuts to the heart of the challenge that many recruiters and managers face.

“How much effort do I invest in an opportunity when I have little or no commitment from a client?”

As with most things social media,  there was a range of views to be had.  

Mitch Sullivan started the ball rolling with a typically insightful response:

“Real commitment can be characterised by a plate of ham and eggs. The chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.”

We also had some ‘old school’ recruiters who dismissed the whole discussion:

“Wow! I feel like I’ve just swallowed a magic pill that’s taken me back to an original idea convention in about 1995 when this kind of sentiment was first being brokered.”

I agree that this sentiment has been around since before the 1990’s.  Unfortunately, I think the challenge still rings true today.  

Start With Education

Matt Gibbs, from, said  “It needs to start with ‘education’.

Educate the client that working with 20 agencies will give worse results.

Educate the recruiters to ask the important questions to ‘qualify’ the vacancy.  

Also have the courage to say no.

Last, Educate recruitment managers to stop chasing useless KPI’s and work on those that matter.”

As if to prove that education is necessary, this comment provoked a question from a hiring manager asking “why would clients have worse results using 20 agencies?”

My belief is that we need to start by educating recruiters.

Recruiters need to understand why working for clients where they have low-level commitment will not help them succeed.

Only then can the next step of education begin.  We need to train recruiters to help educate clients on how they can benefit by working in partnership with a recruiter, and help them to understand the pros and cons of using multiple agencies.

Start Selling Retainers

Martin Ellis an Executive search consultant, provided a mental checklist that recruiters should go through when reflecting on how to approach their business.

  1. Recruiters need to get off the contingent treadmill and think…
  2. Talk to the hiring manager – The manager who carries the responsibility. (That’s not HR!)
  3. When talking to the hiring manager, try to understand their business and what keeps them awake at night. Have a child-like curiosity.
  4. Answer their needs. Check that’s what you’ve done.
  5. Seek commitment. Exclusivity is one thing. A retainer is another.
  6. Know your bottom line. Learn when and how to say “no”.
  7. Smile and leave. With a clear “Yes” or “No” from your client. Do not accept “I’ll think about it”. If you’re not getting a clear “Yes” or “No” , then you have not passed point 4 correctly. That’s your fault!
  8. Then do what you said you would do.

What Next?

A lot depends on what type of recruiter you want you to be.

I know many recruiters who are happy being CV machines for their clients.  They back themselves to find candidates faster than everyone else.  They accept the down sides of working with these types of clients.   

Many other recruiters want to be more than a CV machine to their clients.   They want to ability to add more value to the placement process. To  provide insights, advice and to feel like they are working in partnership with a client.

Finding clients that want this type of service takes time and effort because many line managers do not want this type of service from a recruiter.

Many line managers simply don’t believe that recruiters really can add value beyond a list of CVs. If they’re just after CVs, then they don’t see any reason why they would limit themselves to one recruiter.  Given, the limitless supply of recruiters who are happy to invest time and effort with little or no commitment from a client this is not going to change anytime soon.

With effort you can find these clients.

It requires the recruiter to have a belief in the quality of service they provide.  It requires a desire to persuade clients that there is a better way of working with agencies. And of course – you have to deliver on that promise!

How do you go about this?

In my next blog I will share my top tips as well as ideas from our next LinkedIn discussion!

Note – quotes are real, and you can find them in the LinkedIn discussion. Some have been edited slightly for clarity.

About Alex Moyle

I have spent the last 14 years helping 000's of recruiters be better at what they do. My goal is to make recruitment simple. I love using analogies that connect a recruiters job with the things they have already experienced. Please comment or ask questions below, I try to answer everyone. To stay updated with our latest blogs and videos sign up below.