An experienced search consultant can be many things to a client they are working with above and beyond just recruiting: adviser, provider of market intelligence, resume screener, reference checker, recruiting coordinator, and expert negotiator just to name a few . One thing you should always expect from your search consultant as a client is honesty. Here is how your expectations of honesty should play out when working with a recruiter:
The Job Order. You should always find a recruiter who is an industry expert. Often times recruiters take any positions that arrive on their desk and have a hard time saying no. A good recruiter should be honest and should be able to say “no” when an opportunity is presented to them that falls out of their wheel house. I appreciate all the calls I get from existing and new clients requesting my services, but from time-to-time I must be honest and tell them they would be better off selecting another recruiter who has the true expertise they are looking for. For instance, I specialize in recruiting civil engineering and land surveying professionals mainly in the areas of land development, transportation/highway engineering, bridge engineering, water & wastewater engineering, and water resources. There are a number of specialties that are on the fringes, that may seem logical areas for our continuum of expertise, but are not. These areas might include construction management, structural building engineering, or environmental (site remediation) engineering.
The Time Frame. Often times I have new clients that approach me with exciting new searches, and they ask me how long they think it will be before I can deliver some solid candidates. If a recruiter can make you a promise like that I would be skeptical at best. The honest truth is we do not know. In our business timing is everything, so it is about catching the right candidate on the right day with the right opportunity. Now, from time-to-time we may have readily available candidates that we are actively working with they might fit, but normally speaking, those situations are few-and-far between. Searches are customized and tailor made to uncover candidates with specific skill sets that meet your requirements.
The Word on the Street. Honesty can sometimes be a hard pill to swallow, but a good recruiter will be your firm’s eyes and ears, and an honest recruiter should be able to have a professional conversation with you when your firm’s reputation is not so great. When recruiting for a client, if I continually hear the same objections from perspective candidates specific to my client’s reputation, I feel as though I have an obligation to report that to my client. This market intelligence will allow the client to truly evaluate their public perception and make changes, or it will lead to a conversation that will allow me to overcome those potential objections. For instance, I have a client who from time-to-time is considered a “sweat shop.” I approached my client with this information, and in fact they produced a report for me showing that their average hours hovered around 45-46 hours/week. Hardly a “sweat shop” in the consulting civil engineering world. This honest conversation provided me with the needed ammunition any time the topic surfaced and to have some honest conversations with my candidates as well.
Salary Expectations. Every so often I will have a conversation with a new client revolving around salary for the proposed position they are looking to fill. Because we are experts recruiting civil engineers, we talk to civil engineers all day long and have our “finger on the pulse” as to the range of salaries that are being offered to the different experience levels and specialties underneath the civil engineering umbrella. If our client is being tight on the purse strings, we will let them know, and nine times out of ten they are appreciative of that honesty. They often have to go by different salary surveys they find on line or through national organizations, but salaries and compensation plans tend to be very parochial in the civil engineering community. Sub-market salaries can absolutely kill any chance of finding that civil engineering rock star that is so desired, so don’t be afraid to ask your search consultant his or her opinion of the salary range you have earmarked for the open requisition.
Interview Feedback. No one enjoys being the bearer of bad news, hence the old saying “don’t murder the messenger.” Your firm may have a GREAT opportunity, but if your interview process is not a well thought out process it will come back to bite you in the rear end. Many firms fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to interviewing, and in the end, an unprepared interviewer or team of interviewers can derail an interview process and turn off a really good candidate, leading you back to square one. A good recruiter will extract honest feedback from their candidate, and if that feedback ends up being negative as a result of an uncomfortable interview environment, an ornery line of questioning, etc, he/she should let you know about it. Granted there are two sides to every story, but use that feedback to better position yourself the next time a strong candidate walks through your door and sits across the desk from you.
Over the years I have developed many strong client relationships based upon trust and honesty, and it is a two way street. The ability to put everything out on the table will go along way when working with an experienced search consultant and will lead to far better results in securing the quality talent that is so desired.
This blog is the 2nd in our Honesty series. The first in the series is titled ” What to Expect as a Candidate from your Recruiter.”