Recruiter Turn-Down: When Search Consultants Should Say “No!”

Recently, while conducting an in-house training program for a search firm in Toronto, one of the recruiters asked me what was the most important lesson I had learned in my over 25 years in this business.

After some thought, I responded, “Learning to ‘just say no’ to companies who wanted me to work on non-qualified job orders and learning to ‘just say no’ to candidates and recruits who were unwilling to work within the framework of an appropriate process.”

This was the most important lesson I had to learn because it required me to admit that I could not be all things to everyone.  Whether as an individual or as part of a company, I had to realize that my resources were NOT infinite. Not every job order deserves to take up space in your recruiting software, and drain your energy.

I would succeed in direct proportion to the manner in which I allocated my resources.  I would not be judged by my efforts; rather I would be judged by my results.  Therefore, I needed to focus my resources on those orders and with those recruits and candidates where I had the greatest likelihood of achieving results.

Recruiter turn-down: focus your resources

In order to properly focus my resources, I had to learn to “just say no” to those situations and to those individuals who could not meet my criteria for doing business.

I needed to stop thinking like a recruiter and start thinking like a business person.  Whether a Fortune 500 company or a high-tech start-up, every company, in order to be successful, must have in place a set of criteria against which they judge the business opportunities that are available to them.

If these companies incorrectly allocate their resources on business opportunities that do not meet their established criteria, acceptable results will be difficult to achieve.  Experienced business professionals understand this reality.  As staffing industry professionals, we should, as well.

One of the keys of learning how to “just say no” is to do so in a manner that preserves (or builds) your credibility with the client, recruit, or candidate.  Here is an approach that works well for many experienced recruiters.

To the representative of your potential client:

“In order for your company to reach its objectives, your resources must be properly focused on those business opportunities that hold the greatest potential for achieving results.  This is also true for our organization.

“Like you, we have in place certain criteria by which we evaluate potential business.  Experience has demonstrated that when we focus our resources on those opportunities that meet these criteria, we consistently achieve outstanding results.  Our clients appreciate this approach because it allows us to function at an optimum level on their behalf.

“Therefore, it may be in our collective best interest to review your needs in relation to these criteria.”

At this point, you can explain the criteria by which you judge potential business and ask if they can see where “we may have a potential problem and what we can do about it.”

By utilizing this approach, you will either solve the problem or set the stage to “just say no” while preserving your credibility with the client.  Variations to this approach can also be effective when dealing with recruits and candidates.  However, in order to fully benefit, you must have in place established criteria for accepting business.

Learning to “just say no” will allow you to save time, better focus your resources, and ultimately achieve more consistent results for your clients and candidates, and most importantly, for yourself.

Don’t turn down FREE training!

Top Echelon offers a free monthly webinar as part of its Recruiter Coaching Series. After the webinars are over, we post the recorded version of the webinars in our Recruiter Training Library. These webinars touch upon a variety of recruiter-related topics. These topics deal with both candidates and clients. As always, our goal with these webinars (and corresponding videos) is to help recruiters make more placements.

In addition to training and webinars, Top Echelon offers other recruitment solutions. These solutions include the following:

For more information about Top Echelon and the products and services that it offers, visit the Top Echelon website by clicking here.

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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.