July 22, 2018

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A Recruiter's Biggest Competitor

In our business, our biggest competitor is not other recruiters. It is the fear of change and the fear of the unknown in the candidate’s mind. We are in the business of recruiting exceptional candidates who are ‘passive candidates’ and not actively looking. That’s where the margin is in executive search. So when you engage these people on the phone and you find out that there is some hope of them considering other opportunities, you need to hold on to that openness in their mind and never let it go. What can kill the deal, and at any point in the process, is their fear of change and the fear of the unknown.

Recently I had a meeting with a high level candidate earning in excess of a million dollars per year. He receives an average of two to three headhunter calls a week for the past five years and never returns any of their calls. Somehow I got him on the phone. I developed a good rapport and invited him to meet with me in my Washington office. He has been with his firm for more than ten years and is unsatisfied with several major issues. He is miserable and unhappy. And my client’s opportunity seems intriguing to him, but at the end of the meeting he told me this:

“Scott, I appreciate that, but the devil that I know is better than the devil that I don’t know. I think I’m going to stay where I am.”

I am still courting him and I believe that over the next few months I can get him to a meeting with a client.

How do we overcome this enemy, the fear of change in the candidate’s mind?

The biggest killer to trust with candidates is your own selfish motive of collecting a fee. If all they sense is that you see them as walking invoices, they won’t trust you.

Use this phrase below as a way to help build trust with candidates. This is why my training is contrary to what every other speaker or trainer will tell you at the next recruiting conference you attend and why I believe that my training is not a fit for most conferences, at least in the current culture of what is promoted at our industry’s meetings. That’s because I believe our business is not about the recruiter. It’s about the mutual satisfaction of needs between your client and candidate, and nothing more. Most search firm owners don’t want their staff to know this because they are afraid they will change the culture of their salesy firm. Their model may have worked before, but it doesn’t work anymore. It’s a new day in our industry and if you don’t adapt to changing your search model to that of a ‘Trusted Candidate Advisor,’ then you will lose competitiveness.

Assuming the candidate agrees to meet with your client, say this:

“From this point on, Joe, my role is to facilitate the process of you and my client getting to know each other. I will present you to them, there are going to be a series of meetings which I will prep you for as we progress, and if there is an offer, I am going to get involved in facilitating the discussion surrounding it. And at any point if you are not interested in going forward with my client, then that’s okay. Just tell me that. This is your career, and you need to do what is only in your own personal best interests.”

Your job with candidates is to build trust, bring down walls, and have them bond with you. Become a pressure valve, not a pressure-builder.

- Scott Love

Join Scott Love’s Coaching Club for recruiter training by a top level recruiter and industry expert. You will have access to a weekly group coaching call with Scott, free regular webinars, access to an archive of articles, videos and webinar downloads, direct Q&A with Scott and much more.

Copyright © 2013 Scott Love