Some searches are really tricky. Maybe the candidates are in short supply. Or, the location is a problem; or the pay is low. These are issues I can deal with.
What I can’t deal with or change is the culture of the company, their attitude towards recruiters or the way they do business.
For example, I made several placements with a company that repeatedly complained about my fees, even though I completed every search. After the second or third placement, I made an executive decision to give them a substantial discount.
Rather than show gratitude, they continued to complain. At one point, they wasted several hours of my time soliciting a contract proposal they ultimately rejected. The reason? My fee, which they described as “excessive.”
If they had simply told me they didn’t have the budget for a search, I would’ve understood. But when they insulted me, I took note.
Several weeks later, one of the candidates I placed with the company quit. I wasn’t surprised. Nor was I surprised when they asked me to replace the person free of charge, even though the guarantee period had expired.
“Sorry,” I said. “I can’t do that. But I’ll be more than happy to re-fill the position for a small fraction of the fee, which barely covers my costs.”
As expected, they read me the riot act—and I told them to take a hike.
While it’s admirable to give all your assignments a high priority, not all deserve your full attention. As you consider your workload, look for the various elements that define the difficulty of filling a position. Here are five of the most common indicators:
1. Response time. Does it take forever to get a call back, receive feedback or work up an offer? A slow response could be a canary in the coal mine, meaning that there’s something toxic brewing behind the scenes.
2. Sense of urgency. Does the hiring manager seem engaged and enthusiastic about hiring? Or is the task of filling a job met with the same alacrity as having a root canal?
3. Group-think. Multiple decision makers usually cause paralysis, especially if each person has veto power. As far as I’m concerned, the fewer the chefs, the cleaner the kitchen.
4. Position creep. If the position requirements or objectives start to morph, you’re headed for trouble. Unlike lawyers, we’re not paid by the hour. So there’s no upside whenever the goal posts are moved.
5. One-off roles. I enjoy a challenge as much as anyone, but looking for candidates outside my “target” practice area only distracts me from my mainstream assignments.
I like to think of my candidates and employers as either assets or liabilities. As long as I’m building files, adding to my usable knowledge base or broadening my constituency with people who respect the value of my work, I’m cultivating assets.
Everything else is a liability. And the way I usually deal with a liability is to vote with my feet.
Bill Radin is one of the most popular and highly regarded trainers in the recruiting industry, and has trained many of the largest independent and franchised recruiting organizations, including Management Recruiters, Dunhill, Sanford Rose, Snelling and Fortune Personnel. His speaking engagements include the NAPS national conference, the annual Kennedy Conference, and dozens of state association meetings and network conventions, including Top Echelon and Splits.org.