Anything to Declare? The Value in Client Re-Education

Published on

December 16, 2019

Written by

Alison Humphries


The other weekend I got stuck behind someone who I’ll call “NOT a frequent flyer” or NAFF, for short.

He wasn’t any older than me, was wearing an expensive-looking suit, and it was quite clear that he didn’t do airports very often. At check in, he took half an hour to find his boarding pass and check in his bags.

And another 10 minutes to repack his (many-pocketed) hand luggage.

At security, he ignored all the information about liquids and had to completely unpack his bag. Then he proceeded to undress, making heavy work of his shoes, belt and pockets. He still got pulled for a pat-down at X-ray.

Finally, the hand luggage had to be completely unpacked again at the gate to find the boarding pass.
You get the picture. The chap just didn’t understand how airports work now, and probably nobody told him in advance, because they assumed that a smart professional like him would know.

And I’m prepared to bet that something similar is going on in your recruitment business every week.

Eager-to-please recruiters take on assignments without preparing the client, or explaining the challenges of finding professionals. They don’t challenge the salary or the requirements. And they don’t ask the client for anything to make the assignment run smoothly, because there are so many other recruiters who won’t.

And so, when the assignment –

  • hits a bump, like a lack of candidates, or
  • the first-choice candidate drops out, or
  • the interview is a study in how to alienate a candidate,

-the client blames the recruiter. Just like NAFF blames the airport.

The problem here is that many of our less experienced recruiter colleagues don’t know how to address this with the client, so they don’t. Or they suck their teeth and say “It’s a tough market”, sounding like a dodgy plumber who has come to mend a leak.

There’s one question that we should all be asking clients when they register a job.

Are you ready?

Here it is:

“When did you last try to recruit to this role?”

If the answer is in the last 18 months, ask them how they got on. If the answer is “never” or more than 18 months ago, your client needs some facts. Not opinion, but hard data.

You might have some that is particularly pertinent to your market, but allow me to help you out with four key examples:

  1. 94% of all employers have been gazumped or ghosted by candidates in the process of hiring or after offer (source: People Management 2019)
  2. 94% of candidates say they want to receive interview feedback, but only 41% have ever received any feedback (source: Global Talent Trends Survey, LinkedIn, 2015).
  3. On average, employers of high-skilled workers receive 60% fewer applications per opening than they did in summer 2017 (source: CIPD/Adecco Labour Market Outlook Report Summer 2019).
  4. 52% of employers have increased starting salaries to attract staff (source: as 3).
  5. Non EU citizens now account for more than a third of the increase in UK employment (source: as 3).

Do you see where I’m going with this? The world has changed, and so must your client. For starters;

  • Get them to agree a project plan with dates for interviews ,feedback and decisions so you can concentrate on candidates who can move in that time. Don’t be part of the 94%.
  • Get as much detail as possible on why someone should be interested in the role and the business. Better still, pay them a visit yourself. And make sure the salary is attractive.
  • Ask the client for “killer questions” you can use, and ask them specifically what they will be interviewing for and how they will go about it. Let’s not have endlessly changing requirements or dubious methods of assessing those requirements.
  • Make sure your client understands the need to attract and identify talent from the widest possible workforce.
  • So there’s my advice. Re-educate clients before you start the process. You are not doing your client a favour by avoiding the conversation.

Could your business benefit from strategic advice based on today’s market? Alison Humphries is a NED and business mentor with 34 years in the industry, and a successful track record of growing businesses dramatically as MD within the last 2 years. Contact her by emailing or call 07720 677557.

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