The customer is always right? Not anymore!
If you prefer client to customer because you are selling professional advice or services, no worries. It’s not going to change the principle of the matter. Customers and clients are not always right anymore.
While customers have some pull over a service provider, their demands can sometimes cause the service provider to question just how much they need the client’s business. Being a headhunter in Thailand for over ten years, I have uncovered talented candidates but then watched as the client messed it up – not only undoing the efforts we’ve made but also inconveniencing candidates we’ve worked hard to win over.
Rest assured that your favourite headhunter wants as much as you do to complete your assignment as soon as possible. Search firms are the extended arms of your company and they are your best connection to the outside world when it comes to finding top candidates. By definition search assignments are difficult-to-fill positions. Please keep in mind that executive search firms specialise in this field and have the capability of finding qualified and hard-to-secure talented candidates.
Client mistake 1: Not giving the position enough value. To have any chance of selling a job to someone who does not need it, we must work on building the candidates interest in working for your organisation. After all, you cannot hire someone who does not want to work for your company. We need to work out an Employee Value Proposition. What do you answer when the candidate asks why he should come and work for you? Unless you work for Apple, Google or Starbucks, I tell you, developing a value proposition is not at all as easy as it sounds. When it comes down to it, it’s up to you to attract them to your organisation, to pull them over the line so to speak. You must convince them that their career will be better served with your organisation than where they are.
Smart clients know all this and have answers ready. Clients who still live in the past will probably wonder what happened when it doesn’t go as they planned.
Client mistake 2: Talented candidates are an increasingly perishable commodity who will assess a potential employer on a variety of points. Timeliness or responsiveness is often where the candidate is lost. Resumes may look like a pile of paperwork on your desk but they really are not. You need to react quickly to shortlists and give the candidates the impression you are taking their interest in your organisation seriously and with importance. Each resume is a real person that the search firm has cultivated, screened, and convinced to meet with your company. Smart clients know that FMCG is not only fast-moving-consumer-goods but also fast-moving-candidates-going.
Smart clients will have a process that quickly assesses qualifications and will use intelligent psychometric and cognitive tests to help. They will not ask a candidate to come for five rounds of interviews because few will do so unless they are currently unemployed or desperate to leave their current employment.
Client mistake 3: Being too casual. Candidates you have invited to your office start assessing your company and opportunity from the moment you or your HR Manager calls or emails. This qualification continues through to the confirmation and agenda you send (or not) prior to your meeting; to the kind of personal welcome (or not) that your receptionist extends upon arrival; to the cleanliness (or not) of your office reception area; to the meeting room with a clean white board, chairs positioned nicely (or not) and with no half empty coffee cups from the previous meeting; to you being on time for the appointment (or not); to your interview process that follows (or not) a structured process with questions prepared and you listening 80% of the time.
Smart clients have a hiring process that includes an email and agenda sent out beforehand, a notice to the receptionist that you are waiting for a VIP candidate to arrive, to ensuring your reception area and meeting room is looking clean and fresh. And ultimately you will have relevant questions prepared. Other kinds of clients still wonder why it’s impossible to find people to join their company. Oh well.
Client mistake 4: Time kills all deals and there is really no excuse not to respond quickly to resumes on the shortlist. The people we have presented to you are waiting to hear when you wish to move to the interviewing process with them. Smart clients have realised that it’s a seller’s market, meaning candidates do not necessarily need your job. Other clients in Thailand think we live in Spain with unemployment rates of 25% but this is just not so.
Client mistake 5: Having the belief that the executive search firm is out for themselves. It’s not true. Don’t believe that executive search firms just want to push up the candidate’s salary because their fees are calculated on such compensation. At the end of the day, you are the client and call the shots – you stipulate what you want to pay for what kind of candidate qualification. We are not second-hand car salesmen or selling bibles door-to-door in low-income communities. You are dealing with professional consultants, who ultimately have a reputation to live up to and to protect.
In this competitive labour market and hiring environment the best outcomes are achieved when we can issue an offer at that critical point in time when the candidate’s interest is at its peak and the evaluation process has been properly completed. To issue an offer at any other time, except when these two events occur simultaneously, will seriously compromise the likelihood of a successful outcome.