As any recruiter knows, a potential placement can go awry at ANY point in the process. That includes after the process is complete and you’ve actually made the placement. (“What’s that? The candidate left after only 26 days on the job? Yes, I will return the placement fee.”)
Even though fall-offs do occur and even though they are incredibly painful, more placements are sabotaged far earlier in the recruiting process. In other words, they blow up long before you even reach the offer stage. Unfortunately for some recruiters, they don’t realize that they’re the ones sabotaging the process.
Wait, what’s that? The recruiter is the problem? “Bite your tongue,” you say. “That’s baloney! It’s the hiring manager dragging their feet! It’s the candidate who took another offer or another counter-offer at the last minute!”
Yes, all of those things happen, but there’s a mistake that recruiters make more often than they want to admit. This mistake derails the entire placement process. It leads these recruiters on a “wild goose chase,” where they waste precious time and energy. What mistake is that?
Working the wrong job orders.
It doesn’t matter how good you are as a recruiter. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve billed during your lifetime. If you take a bad job order, your chances of filling it are as good as a rookie recruiter who just joined the profession yesterday.
Turn the key: audit your job orders
According to industry trainer Jon Bartos of The Global Performance Group, recruiters should look back on what happened on their recruiting desks last year. While he advocates the kind of revenue modeling that trainer Barb Bruno endorses in our previous blog post, he makes an additional recommendation. That recommendation deals specifically with job orders.
That’s because quality job orders are single most important key to making more placements.
You might be thinking, “Duh, tell me something I don’t know.” Well, for knowing this simple truth, there certainly are a lot of recruiters chasing bad job orders. How many dead-end job orders did you attempt to work last year? How many of the job orders you took turned out to be a waste of time? How much more could you have billed it you had taken that wasted time and applied it to quality job orders?
According to Bartos, recruiters should absolutely conduct an audit of their job orders from last year. That audit should provide the following information:
- How many job orders you (and your firm) accepted on a per-client basis
- How many of those job orders were actually filled on a per-client basis
- The job order acceptance-to-filled ratio, both overall and for every client
- The amount of time it took to fill those job orders on a per-client basis
- The amount of time that was spent on job orders that were NOT filled on a per-client basis
Once you have this information, you can easily come to number of logical and very helpful conclusions. These conclusions will theoretically help you to bill more during the next 12 months. You will know:
- Which clients gave you the most job orders
- Which clients gave you the most job orders that were actually filled
- Which clients gave you the most job orders that were filled within a certain amount of time
- Which clients gave you the most job orders that were NOT filled
Face it, you were not 100% productive on your desk last year. You wasted time somewhere along the way. Unless you identify where you wasted time, you are setting yourself up to waste it in the same fashion this year, too. We understand: it’s difficult to say “No” to a job order. It’s bright, shiny, unfilled, and has $25,000 written all over it. But unless it’s a quality job order, it’s useless to you. Actually, it’s worse than useless. That’s because it can COST you money, not make you money.
“Do not take a search that costs you money,” said Bartos. “In fact, if you have a bad job order, retained work is just as bad as contingent. The only difference is that you have somebody calling you every day asking, ‘What do you have for us?’ There is nothing worse than taking a bad money-down search. A recruiter’s success depends on the quality of the job orders they take, plain and simple.”
A simple formula for success
With all of that in mind, the formula for success in the coming year is simple:
- Accept more job orders from the clients that gave you quality job orders last year
- Decline the job orders from clients whose job orders you did not fill last year
- Carefully vet and screen every job order that is offered to you (or your firm) before accepting it this year
How can you do that? We have three questions that you should ask yourself before taking a job order, courtesy of Bartos:
- Is the company looking at internal candidates?
- Am I the only recruiter working this job order?
- If I find a dead-on candidate, am I 100% sure that the company will hire them?
The next-best thing to not accepting a bad job order from the beginning is dropping a bad order shortly after accepting it. There is no reason to hold onto it if it’s not going to go anywhere. Below are four signs that the job order you have deserves to be ditched:
- There does not appear to be any urgency tied to the position. The hiring manager says he wants to fill it “ASAP.” What the heck does that mean? Give me an actual date or timeline!
- The hiring manager is slow to respond. Apparently, filling this job is not a priority to them. Then why should it be a priority to you?
- There is more than one recruiter working on the search. As you well know, this just slows everything down. How can this search be a priority if the hiring manager is intentionally trying to slow it down?
- Only “perfect candidates” will be accepted. They want to see another candidate. And another. And another. And another. They don’t want to hire a candidate. They like the “idea” of hiring the perfect candidate. That will not result in a placement fee.
When you audit your job orders, what you’re actually doing is auditing your client base. Everybody wants a big client base. However, do you really want clients who give you bad job orders? Of course you don’t. They just waste your time and make you sad. So the cold, harsh reality is that you might have to “fire” some clients this year.
According to Bartos, organizations that issue quality job orders have certain characteristics in common. How many of your clients share the following characteristics?
- Have a process in place for interviewing and hiring in a timely fashion
- Issue quality job orders that contain specific search parameters and a realistic job description
- Have a stated goal for exactly when the new employee should start
- Provide consistent feedback regarding the candidates being presented
- Display a sense of urgency, from the time the job order is issued until the time it’s filled
Eliminate bad job orders AND bad clients
Success in recruiting does not start with a job order. It starts with a quality job order. Any ol’ job order can lead to the seventh circle of hell. A quality job order can result in a placement within six weeks and a check shortly after that.
Sure, you know that low-quality job orders are bad for business. However, it’s not enough to just know that’s the case. Low-quality job orders AND the clients that issue them must be:
Bartos put his money where his mouth is, almost literally. That’s because he made the decision to drop an entire marketplace this year. He entered the marketplace two years ago, but the return on his investment of time and energy did not warrant continuing to stay in it.
“The markets that I’m staying in are paying off even more now,” said Bartos. “Getting rid of some clients has been paying off in spades.”
There are enough things conspiring against the successful placement of a candidate. The client. The candidate. The candidate’s spouse. The candidate’s kids, for crying out loud! Recruiters have enough obstacles in their professional lives.
They do not need to create more by first accepting—and then continuing to hang onto—low-quality job orders from their clients.
Is a certain market segment not getting the return on investment that you’d hoped for? Maybe it is for someone in your network and you can split the fee. Join Top Echelon’s recruiting network today, and stop leaving money on the table!