How Search Consultants Can Get More Recruitment Business

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a blow to just about everybody’s livelihood these days (unless you’re Jeff Bezos, that is). And that includes agency recruiters and executive search consultants.

Let’s face it: when hiring slows down, recruitment business slows down. Many employers instituted hiring freezes last year, and the ones that did not institute them still didn’t hire as aggressively as they did the year before. There was just too much uncertainty in the air.

And now? Well, things are certainly better than they were nine months ago, but they’re definitely not “back to normal.” And since we don’t know exactly when things will get “back to normal,” we all must cope with the present reality. (Whether you want to call it the “new normal” or the “next normal.”)

For search consultants, that means generating more recruitment business any way they can.

Four steps to more recruitment business

And we’re here to help! And so is Scott Love of The Attorney Search Group. That’s because, according to Scott, there are things that you can do that will result in an immediate impact on your recruiting desk. Specifically, you’ll be able to generate new recruitment business . . . NOW!

Let’s review these steps, shall we?

#1—Call every candidate you’ve placed in the past 36 months.

With any luck, you will not have to remind them of who you are. If they’re still with the company at whom you placed them, that’s great news! That’s because they might consider you as somebody who did a favor for them. As a result, they will be more likely to reciprocate that favor for you. (If they’re NOT at the same company at which you placed them, then discuss what happened and why it happened. Hopefully, they will not blame you for what transpired.)

According to Love, when you speak with them, find out how the economy is treating the organization. Ask them:

  • How their performance is doing and how their company is performing
  • What other organizations are hiring
  • If they’ve received calls from any other recruiters in the last 90 days
  • If their company is hiring, and if so, who the line managers are who are overseeing those searches
  • What niches their company sees as being healthy right now
  • If any of their friends at their former employer are looking to explore new employment opportunities, and if so, who those individuals are

The information that you glean from asking these questions will help point you in the right direction.

#2—Call every client that hired somebody from you in the past 36 months.

This conversation is going to call for a more nuanced approach. That’s because you don’t want to sound as though you’re “fishing.” (Even if that is exactly what you’re doing.)

“Instead, just make it a casual business conversation,” said Love. “Talk about the economy, their company’s performance, and the performance of those people who you placed.”

This is where the Principle of Reciprocity comes in. According to this principle, when somebody gives us something, we feel compelled to give them something in return. Conversely, when you first give something to somebody else, they will feel compelled to give something to you in return. Speaking of the Principle of Reciprocity, this is when you give. After all, your clients should view you as an expert of trends within their industry since you can do something they can’t: talk with their competitors.

“Freely share with them your perspective on the market, because they want to know it,” said Love. “They see you as an expert who adds intelligence and value to them.”

According to Love, you should then ask this question: “Are there any types of candidates that I should keep my eyes open for in the next 90 days?”

There is where you don’t want to come across as needy (or worse, desperate). If the hiring manager answers the question and starts telling you about the types of candidates they’d like to see, then you can gently try to take to the next level. That level, of course, is a full-blown search with an accompanying job order. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

If the hiring manager stops short of wanting to take it to the next level, then write it up as a passive search. According Love, these are the steps involved with such a search:

  • Check for “low-hanging fruit” in your database, but don’t spend more than 20 minutes on it.
  • If you come across somebody remotely close to what the hiring manager is seeking, then call the candidate.
  • Call the client back and present the candidate verbally, testing the hiring manager for possible interest.

Now, it makes sense if your client is not completely comfortable telling you about an existing employee that they’re considering terminating, even if you have a good relationship with them. However, they might frame the conversation in a way that lets you know that a possible position will be “opening up in the future.” Whatever you do, don’t push the envelope and be too aggressive. Remember, you want to attract your client to you, not push them away by being too aggressive.

#3—Call every candidate who you pursued as a marketing candidate in the past 12 months.

This means candidates who you’ve placed and those you have not placed. If you did not place them, ask them who took their old position (if they know) and also where else they interviewed recently. According to Love, this is an opportunity to vigorously pursue potential search assignments.

#4—Look at every resume that you’ve received in the past 90 days that fits your niche.

It doesn’t matter if the candidate is a quality candidate or not. Where is the candidate coming from? Are they still there? Maybe not. Call and ask for that candidate.

This can result in additional leads for more recruitment business. If the candidate is not employed there anymore, maybe there is an opening that has yet to be filled. If you can reach the candidate, perhaps you can find out where else they’ve interviewed.

These are basically free leads for building your recruitment business as a search consultant!

My thanks to Scott Love, who contributed his expertise to this article. And if you’re looking for more wisdom from Scott, check out the videos that he has in our extensive library of free recruitment agency training courses. These courses are recorded versions of Top Echelon’s Expert Recruiter Coaching Series of live webinars, which we offer every month.

These webinars touch upon a variety of recruiting-related topics dealing with both candidates and clients. As always, our goal with these webinars (and corresponding videos) is to help agency recruiters and executive search consultants make more placements.

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