After over 20 years in the contract staffing industry, we have seen our fair share of successful recruiters. While these recruiters are different in many ways, they all seem to have a particularly keen ability to build strong recruiter-client relationships. Here are some the common relationship-building techniques that we have noticed while working with recruiters who are successful in contract staffing AND direct hire:
- REALLY Getting to Know the Client. One of employers’ pet peeves is that some recruiters seem to throw as many resumes as possible their way to see what “sticks.” Recruiters who only send a few highly targeted resumes set themselves apart. In order to do that, you have to go beyond the surface information many “vendors” get about their clients.
A number of successful recruiters make on-site visits a core part of their recruitment process. In fact, one recruiting firm we work with will not take a job order from companies that will not meet with them in person. These recruiters take the opportunity to meet with as many people as they can, ask detailed questions, and tour the facility. The goal is to understand the culture of the company, their recruitment process, and what it takes for a candidate to truly succeed there.
- Being a One-Stop Shop. Successful recruiter make sure they don’t give their clients any reason to go to any other firm because they provide ALL of the staffing solutions a company could possibly need. These solutions include direct hire, traditional contract staffing, contract-to-direct hire, payrolling, 1099 independent contractor to W-2 employee conversions, retiree re-staffing, and internships/co-ops. Employers are busy, so allowing them to have one contact for all their staffing needs is a great way to build loyalty.
- Selling a SOLUTION, Not a Person. Clients don’t always know that they need one of those alternative staffing options. All they know is they a problem. If you can provide a viable solution, you become more than a vendor. You become a trusted staffing partner. To do this, you need to ask open-ended questions to determine what their exact need is and then suggest a solution. For example, you might want to ask if they have a special project or deadline they need to address, which may indicate the need for a traditional contract staffing arrangement. Or you might ask if they have a hiring freeze that is preventing them from getting the help they need, in which case you might suggest they hire someone on a contract-to direct basis because contractors come out of a different budget from direct hires, so they could use them on a contract basis until the hiring freeze lifts.
- Being An Employment Expert. Besides looking to you for solutions, companies often look to recruiters to be a resource regarding employment laws and issues. Therefore, it is important that you keep up-to-date on issues such as healthcare reform (aka Obamacare), wage and hour regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and proper worker classification (1099 independent contractor vs. W-2 employee).
- Following Up. Of course, you want to be sure to be in frequent contact with the client when you are working a job order. But don’t forget to keep in touch even if you don’t get a job order. Just because a company may not have a need now doesn’t mean they won’t later. Call them occasionally just to touch base. You want to be sure to stay at the top of their mind so that when they DO have a need, they think of you first.
In general, everything you can do for your client builds strong recruiter-client relationships. This not only helps you retain current clients but can also help you gain new ones through referrals and word of mouth. By simply putting your client first, you can build a successful firm that can thrive even in the most challenging economic conditions.