July 15, 2018

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A Cure for The Sounds of Silence: Call Your Clients

Two recruiters called me last month to offer recruiting assistance on a project they had learned IRES, Inc. was working on for a period of time that seemed to be longer than usual. This was a routine search in the fifty to sixty-thousand range that we had filled hundreds of times before, but just got caught in a backlog this one instance.

The recruiters were right about the period of time being longer than usual. And they were both right we had reached the point And since both were esteemed individuals I’ve known and respected for well over ten years I decided to invest about a half hour with each so as to fully explain the search.

I should emphasize both of these individuals travel through recruiting associations, attend conferences, keep their skills sharp, and represent that single digit minority I would entrust sensitive projects to.

You could understand why I was frustrated when after both told me “we’ll get right on this” they proceeded to not call back for one week. Then two weeks. Then three weeks.

Sadly – this is the manner in which many recruiters treat their clients. This type of behavior is not limited to recruiter versus recruiter relationships alone. And this is why most clients and hiring managers develop a disdain for recruiters.

At the very least one could have called back after two weeks and stated something along the lines of:

“You know Frank I really worked hard on this … but I could not find anyone suitable that I felt I could refer to you.”

Or something such as:

“I’ve had some other commitments come up and can’t work on this. I wanted to get back to you rather than leave you with no follow up communication.”

There’s nothing worse to a hiring manager (I consider myself a hiring manager as well as a recruiter) than long periods of dead silence after a recruiter provides a convincing enthusiastic belief he or she is about to help you out.

It would be best had you not called at all. Now not only did you not perform up to your expectations, but actually fall short of your previous image and brand you created.

So what exactly is the right time period you should never allow the “sound of silence” to exceed?

Is it one week?

Two weeks?

One call per month?

I say it depends on the level of a search and specificity of the industry and skill set.

But for a few exceptions, when you are dealing with positions in the under $75,000.00 per year range there is no reason I can find as to why you should not call your client and provide some feedback on a semi-weekly basis.

I have one account that demands we conference every Friday. We did just that until there was an ample pipeline of candidates and the conferences were no longer needed.

I like clients that demand action. Because I usually get reaction in return for our efforts.

In my real life experience whenever I have actually called a client and “fessed up” that their search is proving to be more time and effort than what we had anticipated, they have always appreciated knowing such information. Especially if there are particulars that go with it.

Sometimes by providing follow up and feedback, the client relaxes criteria or increases salary. Other times they have decided to rearrange the retainer so as to not have IRES walk away.

But to not call back at all is inexcusable, unprofessional and a complete waste of valuable business time I can no longer recover which I was made to invest in that recruiter. I’m just as mad as any client would be not hearing back from a recruiter for three weeks after being promised action!

As it turns out our organization finally found the “right candidate” a within the next week or so after sharing this search on a split arrangement with my two trusted colleagues. So the subcontracted assistance was thankfully no longer needed.

Trouble is they don’t know that due to their own inadequacies.

You see I decided to call each of them to notify them of such. I figured just in case they are working late into the evenings making dozens of calls and foregoing golfing on weekends on my account … I best advise them their services were no longer needed and that our candidate had been selected.

The real punch line to this story is when I called and left a message they still did not call back!

This tells me:

a. They never took the search seriously b. Demonstrated lack of respect or consideration for my time c. Probably never spent more than one hour once they got off the phone with me d. Probably treat their clients the same way e. Have little regard for image they create for themselves

In a recent Fordyce Letter column more than a few recruiters from around the country reported back they had no qualms “walking away from difficult clients” if the search proved to be no longer worth the effort.

Walk away? Just like that? And leave another client scratching their head as to what’s wrong with our industry?

To walk away with no explanation tarnishes the search industry.

To walk away and explain why this is necessary is a much better choice.

I have no problems walking away from a search if warranted every now and then but folks I assure you the one that prompted this article was a very routine search.

Please don’t give the rest of us a bad name through your long periods of silence!

Call your clients. Call them weekly or semi-weekly. But please let them know something rather than handing them long periods containing nothing but the sounds of silence.

- Frank G. Risalvato