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December 10, 2017

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Are You Plugging Leaks—or Building Teams?

Despite our lofty branding as brokers in the field of talent acquisition, our day-to-day responsibilities are generally quite mundane: Got a leak? We’ll plug it and be on our way.

Of course, there’s an alternate business model that’s off the radar for most recruiters and hiring managers: To look beyond short-term problems and help organizations build dynamic teams.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to fix what’s broken or find a missing part. But if I can help build a high-performing engine that fires on all cylinders, the impact can be long term, and quite profound. And for that reason alone, I’d trade five placements with different companies for the chance to place an effective team of game-changers for a single appreciative client.

A Deep Dive, not a Broad Brush

We all pay lip service to the desirability of repeat business and not having to re-invent the wheel with every search. But when I talk to recruiters, I’m shocked by how many disparate assignments seem to occupy their time and intellectual resources. It’s not uncommon for a single recruiter to have 10 or 20 searches competing for attention. Which is why so many jobs go unfilled.

By seeking out—and cultivating—repeat business, you’ll work more productively and far more efficiently. Here are four ideas for building key accounts:

  1. Organize. Sort your current workload according to how many jobs are with the same company, client or hiring manager.

  2. Prioritize. Put the “multiples” at the front of the line. In other words, give a higher priority (all things being equal) to existing or past customers, or companies who have multiple openings or the potential for repeat business.

  3. Anticipate talent needs. You can do this by learning about your clients’ business goals and recommending game-changing candidates, even if there’s no open position. Many recruiters (myself included) market their services this way. But be careful not to overlook companies you already know who might benefit as a result of your initiative.

  4. Build opportunities into your game plan. You can do this in two ways: First, schedule multiple interviews within a short time window to foster apple-to-apple candidate comparison; and second, see if you can reasonably broaden the spectrum of talent you refer.

For example, if your slate of four candidates consists of one on the low end, one on the high end and two in the middle, it widens the employer’s peripheral vision. The more options or potential combinations they see, the more it stimulates their interest in building a team.

Over the last year, I’ve doubled my placement activity with one of my clients, simply by utilizing this strategy. Faced with the dilemma of selecting from an outstanding field of high, low and mid-range candidates, the employer repeatedly—and wisely—hired everyone they could afford, rather than walking away from assets they knew would put money in their pocket.

I know first-hand the pitfalls of not striking while the iron is hot. Years ago, an art dealer gave me the opportunity to buy signed works by Picasso, Chagall, Renoir and Matisse all at the same time, all at a very good price. Foolishly, I took home the Picasso and passed on the others. Had I made a more intelligent decision, I’d be living on an island in the Caribbean, and you wouldn’t be reading this article.

-Bill Radin

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