When a Client and Candidate Discuss Money, It Means THIS

In a previous blog post, I discussed the four numbers that every client needs to know before they extend an offer to one of your candidates.

Of course, these are numbers that you, as the recruiter, should be keeping as a data-point in your recruiting software and providing to the client.  However, to take things a step further, why is it important to prepare your clients to “never, ever discuss money” with one of your candidates?

I once received a call from a recruiter who wanted to discuss his process for working with clients.  As he detailed the step-by-step process, I was stunned when he reached the “offer stage” and stated, “At that point, I step out of the picture and allow my client and candidate to speak directly with one another about the specifics of the offer.”

Although I did not say anything initially, when he completed his description, I made the following statement regarding what it means when a client and candidate discuss money:

“Any time you have a candidate and a client in direct discussion about compensation, you have lost control of the process.”

He then asked, “What if the client brings up the subject with the candidate or asks the candidate how much they are currently earning?”  My reply was as follows:

“There should never be a circumstance where your client brings up the subject of compensation directly with one of your candidates.  If you are doing your job correctly, there is no justification for your client to discuss this subject with any of your candidates.”

For many recruiters, this approach may appear to be radical or even impossible to implement or police.  Nevertheless, it is essential if you are to maintain control of the process and be viewed by both your client and candidate as trustworthy and capable.

The key is your positioning.  You establish this positioning when you first take the job order/assignment from the client and when you conduct your initial interview with the candidate.

If you are correctly positioned at the time you take the job order/assignment and your client understands the importance of knowing the four numbers I mentioned in my previous blog post, you will have established yourself as a critically important controlling force throughout the process.  Also, you will have removed any reason for the client to ever directly discuss money with one of your candidates.

However, old habits are difficult to break.  If, in your interview follow-up, you determine that the client has brought up the subject of compensation with one of your candidates, ask them, “Specifically, what was your reason for asking that question?  What were you trying to accomplish?”

Listen carefully to their answer.  They may simply state, “I forgot,” or “It’s an old habit I’ll need to break.”  If this is the situation, remind them of the benefits of keeping those questions between the two of you.

On the other hand, if the client responds to your question by saying something like, “That’s my job,” or “I needed to get a feel for it directly from the candidate,” stop everything.  You are not properly positioned.

You have not earned the trust of your client.  You need to have a frank and open discussion regarding the importance of your role in the process.  To proceed otherwise would be counterproductive.

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Terry Petra is one of the recruiting industry’s leading trainers and business consultants.  A Certified Personnel Consultant since 1975 and a Certified International Personnel Consultant since 1989, Petra has extensive experience as a producer, manager, and trainer in all areas of professional search, including retainer, contingency, and contract, as well as clerical/office support and temporary.  For more information about his services, visit his website or call 651.738.8561.