July 15, 2018

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What Clients Want

I canít believe Iím actually admitting this, but I saw the Mel Gibson movie ĎWhat Women Want.í Iím not sure exactly what motivated me to watch it other than the fact that it was the only thing on television that didnít involve home shopping or reality dating. There werenít any explosions in the movie. No car chases. But the storyline of a man whose special powers allowed him to hear womenís thoughts intrigued me enough to sit through the relationshippy movie and barely make it to the end.

If only we could hear what our clients were thinking.

I left detailed messages to ten different company presidents and owners that Iíve never talked to before. It was about a sharp candidate who is currently employed, has strong tenure with a handful of companies, a valid motive to move, quantifiable results and outcomes achieved in his career, and, most importantly, is working with me and only me in his job search.

So far, five business days later, I have two calls back from interested clients, one of which admitted that they have no openings but were intrigued enough by my message to agree to my fee and schedule a meeting with the candidate.

I think itís because, just like Mel, Iíve stumbled on the secret to what clients want and I integrated their motivations to hire into my messages for them. If you follow this formula when dealing with clients, youíll increase the calls back regarding candidates that you are marketing and probably triple the odds of them going forward to interview your candidates.

There are three things that every client wants:

  1. First, they want to know what outcomes and results their future hires will achieve while in their employ.

    When it comes to hiring, results are all that count (after values and ethics, of course). If youíve never read a book on hiring, youíve got to read Lou Adlerís Hire with Your Head. In his book, our fellow search practitioner explains how we must help our clients hire the best performer, not the best interviewer. All we have to go on is the candidateís past performance, which is the best indicator of their future performance. If results are all that count when it comes to a manager performing, then why is it that traditional interviewing methods focus only on duties and responsibilities? If you can show your client specifically how your candidate has achieved specific results, then your candidate will seem that much better compared to all the others. If you can show specific results, then your client will know that this candidate should be able to produce similar results within his or her organization.

  2. Secondly, clients want to know for sure that these results are real.

    If you show specifically the results your candidate achieved, such as through numerical quantification, then it is no longer your opinion that the candidate is a stud or a studette, but it is fact. Specificity builds credibility. This is a typical message left by most recruiters to a client about a strong candidate:

    "Iíve got this great candidate with stellar performance, can tackle any assignment, has great client skills, a great work ethic, great leadership skills, and is a superstar."

    Wait a minute, the client is thinking, you get paid when I hire this person, yes? Then this is your opinion and is open to debate.

    Instead, leave this sort of message:

    "This candidate has eleven years in the business, eight years with his current company, and has managed projects up to $40MM, with a median project size of $30MM, one hundred percent of which were completed on time and under budget, resulting in three clients in the past year to negotiate seven more projects. All the clients asked specifically for this candidate to manage these future projects because of how he managed their previous ones and all were negotiated with record high margins and will be half of his employerís volume so far on the books for this next year. Three junior managers who were mentored by this candidate have all been promoted to project managers this past year, demonstrating the candidateís leadership and mentoring skills."

    Which one is more believable to you? If you state only your opinion, then your motive is always in question. But if you state the facts and can substantiate them through evidence, such as quantifiable measurements, then it is the truth and not your opinion. Specificity builds credibility.

  3. What is the risk and what is the return on my investment?

    This is what your client is thinking:

    "Iím okay with paying a big fee. Iíve done it before and it makes sense for the right person. But I am wondering that when I pay the fee, what am I going to get and how long will I get it when I pay you for this person?"

    Again, we have to look at the candidateís past experience in terms of quantifiable issues, and this issue has everything to do with tenure. How many years has your candidate spent at each of his or her employers? If this candidate moves around a lot, then he or she will move around a lot in the future.

Remember that this business all goes back to the fact that people only do whatís in their own best interests. And when it comes to clients, give them what they want and youíll never have to wonder what theyíre thinking again.

-Scott Love

Copyright © 2005 Scott T. Love Scott Love improves the performance of recruiters and the margins of search firms and staffing agencies. His training website,, has become one of the largest free internet training sites for the industry. To have him show your staff how to produce more than they thought possible, call him at 828-225-7700.