Ross Clennett Article

How to Avoid Declined Offers and

Beware! Profit Killers are everywhere


by Ross Clennett

This article originally appeared in my eNewsletter InSight (Issue 18, 6 February 2008)
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Succeed Quickly or Fail Slowly: A High Performance Framework for Recruiters

One of the common misunderstandings that I witness everywhere I go in the recruitment world is what it takes to be a top billing consultant. Most consultants who are aspiring to be a top biller, but aren't there yet, seem to think that most top billers work 12+ hour days. In some cases this is accurate, but in most cases it is not.

Most top billers work what I would regard as a normal recruiter's week (ie 45-50 hours per week). The reality of our job is that in a skills tight market we need to be flexible at the beginning and end of each day to meet with candidates who otherwise would not be able to be interviewed face-to-face by us. This doesn't mean that a top biller is necessarily in the office for all of those hours. A number of those hours may be done from home, or elsewhere, to ensure the results are delivered for themselves, their employers, their clients and candidates. A ‘normal' week is unlikely to cut it for those aspiring to be $1 million plus producers.

Where top billers get ahead of their average competitor is not in spending more time doing their job but in the use of their time when they are working. In my eBook Succeed Quickly or Fail Slowly: A High Performance Framework for Recruiters I mention on page 9 the example of Andrew Marty, MD at SACS Consulting in Melbourne as a standout person in this area.

One of the most significant areas of rapid improvement available to consultants building their business is to identify, and act on, profit killers.

Profit killers are everywhere. They take your time and never give you back enough dollars in return. They are the clients who say most of the right things at the beginning of the assignment yet once you start working on the assignment they turn into the time waster from hell. As a result you are likely to be working a lot of hours trying to fill the jobs of these clients for very little financial return. See if you can recognise a few of these from your current client or job list:

1.   No job description

"Just send me the resumes and I will interview a few people. I'll know the right person when I meet them."


2.   Multi-listing the job
"We want to make sure we cover the market."


3.   Won't sign your terms of business at the start of the assignment

"Let's just see if you've got anyone of interest before we sign anything."


4.   Want bargain basement fees

"18%!  You've got to be kidding!! We've got lots of jobs coming up and this is your chance to be our preferred recruiter if you're flexible on your fees."


5.   Won't pay market salary

"They've got to prove themselves first before we pay them that sort of money."


6.   No interview feedback of any value

"No, nothing wrong with them I just have this feeling they won't fit in."


7.   Endless interviewing

"Yeah, they're not bad. We'll keep them in mind but can you flick over a few more resumes for us to have a look at?"


8.   Don't know how to interview

"If you were an animal what animal would you be?"


9.   Inflexible on interview times

"Nah, if they're serious about working for us, they will need to come in for an interview between 9 and 5. I'm not coming in early or staying back late just to interview."


10.   No returned calls on an ‘urgent' job

"Sorry, I was away for a few days, now can we set up a few interviews in a couple of weeks time?"


11.   Position not yet approved from above

"I've just submitted a proposal to our Boston head office for the offer to your candidate - we should hear back late next week."


12.   Low-ball candidates at offer

"Just offer them that amount and see what they say. We can always increase it later if necessary.


13.   Focus on experience and qualifications, not competencies and motivation

"Yeah, I'm sure they would be great, but I really want 10 years experience and a degree, to be sure."


14.   Insist on non-competency criteria
"They must be a female, have at least 5 years Australian experience, not be married or wanting children, live 5 mins from our office, be reasonably ambitious - but not too much, look good in front of clients (know what I mean, nudge, nudge, wink, wink) and preferably under 35 years old."

I've encountered all of the above (and plenty of others) in my years as a recruiter and yet many recruiters never learn - they still keep working on the same crappy jobs, chasing the same nickel-and-dime clients and they keep getting (surprise, surprise) the same old underwhelming results."

Guess what doesn't get done when you are wasting time on profit killing clients and jobs ... prospecting for decent clients! Clients with decent jobs who are serious about hiring someone quickly, who respect your role as a recruiter, sign your terms and pay you a fair fee or margin for delivering an excellent candidate to them.

Delete your profit draining jobs and sack your profit killing clients - today!
I promise you will feel great when you come into work tomorrow, especially when your freshly-sacked client registers their profit-killing job with your major competitor.

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