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Job Orders: The Recruiter’s Guide to Qualifying Search Assignments

by | Jan 6, 2022 | Placement Process

We’ve addressed the issue of qualifying job orders quite a bit in the Top Echelon Recruiter Training Blog. We’ve done this namely because being able to identify which orders are the ones worth working on is key to making more placements (and more money).

Just because a recruiter has a ton of job orders doesn’t mean they’re going to make a ton of money from those orders. Recruiters don’t get paid when they receive an order, of course. They get paid when they make a placement. Consequently, if they’re working on the “wrong” orders, then they could be wasting their time, energy, and resources.

In fact, as an example, we’re going use a pop culture icon and a seemingly unrelated—but ultimately applicable—fictional scenario.

“You know how to take the job order . . .”

As we’ve mentioned, the qualified job order is king. Illustrating this point more colorfully is an episode of the hit sitcom Seinfeld, specifically an episode in which Jerry laments to a rental car clerk in the following fashion when she informs him that the car he reserved is not available:

“See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation, and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.”

If Jerry Seinfeld was a recruitment trainer, as opposed to a multi-million dollar comedian and actor, he might say something similar to this:

“See, you know how to take the job order, you just don’t know how to qualify the job order, and that’s really the most important part of the job order, the qualifying. Anybody can just take them.”

So—are you just taking job orders . . . or are you qualifying them, as well. And if you’re qualifying them, to what extent are you doing so?

Is your job order a wild-goose chase?

The answer to that question is crucial, because if you’re not qualifying your orders, then you could be wasting your time. Of course, when a recruiter receives a job order from a client, they’re often so giddy at the prospect of the search that they take the order and run.

They run far and they run wide, not realizing all the while that they could be on what amounts to a wild-goose chase as opposed to a verifiable, 100%, grade-A search. (Although if a recruiter could score a search fee for placing wild geese, they might give it a shot.)

So this is the time to take a small step back, not to mention a deep breath, and make sure that the job order you’ve been given is properly qualified. This will help to weed out the bad orders and create more time for you to spend on those that are most likely to result in a placement . . . and more importantly, a placement FEE.

Qualifying the job order—THAT’s the important part

So . . . what exactly are some of the components that must be present for a job order to move into the “qualified category”? While opinions about this vary, there are at least four critical components. The absence of one or more of these components lessens the chance that there’s a placement check waiting for you at the end of the search.

Those components are listed below:

#1—Urgency
#2—A set timetable for the process
#3—A firm commitment
#4—Clear expectations

However, there are other factors involved in the process. Which factors are those? We’re glad you asked!

That’s just at the beginning. Throughout the process, you also need consistent communication and regular updates and feedback.

That’s because each job order you receive should come with following disclaimer:

“Warning: the hiring manager reserves the right to change their mind about the contents of this job order, the time frame associated with it, the people involved in it, or even its very existence, all without informing you beforehand. Have a nice day.”

But of course, it doesn’t.

The truth is that a job order—figuratively, of course—is a living, breathing entity. It can change, it can morph, it can grow, it can shrink, or it can undergo 100 other similar transformations. What you have on your desk is a job order that might NOT be a true representation of what it is right now, in real time. In essence, it’s only a snapshot, taken during the last time you qualified its contents.

Qualifying job orders = saving TIME

Only by properly qualifying job orders throughout the entire process can you ensure that you’re spending your time wisely. There’s no worse feeling than working a job order for an extended period of time, only to find out the job description has changed, the time frame for hiring has been indefinitely extended, or the employer has decided to hire from within.

The worst thing you can do is grab the job order and run with it immediately, without securing any crucial components. Before you hang up the phone with the hiring manager, you should establish those components—urgency, a firm commitment, clear expectations, and a set timetable for the completion of the process.

Because if those components haven’t been established, there’s no (logical) reason to start presenting candidates.

A checklist for qualifying job orders

As I mentioned above, the four components are urgency, a set timetable for the process, a firm commitment, and clear expectations. My breakdown of those four is below:

#1—Urgency

You can determine if there’s urgency tied to the job order rather easily. If you ask the hiring manager when they would like to schedule interviews, and they answer, “ASAP,” that is not a reflection of urgency. As you will see, when you agree on a set timetable, which is the second important component, you’re actually verifying that there’s urgency tied to this search. Remember, vagueness and generalities are your enemies. They allow the hiring manager room to wiggle down the road, when they inexplicably invoke their unspoken “right to change the contents of this job order.”

There are two important pieces of information you’ll need in order to gauge the level of urgency involved. First, you need to know the dates and times of initial interviews, and then you need to know the deadline for filling the position. Once again, nothing vague will do. We’re talking about actual dates, such as “We need somebody in here by the last day of the month, at the very latest.” Ah—now that sounds urgent.

#2—Set timetable for the process

Now that you have dates for both the initial interviews and a date for filling the position, you can fill in everything in between . . . presentation of candidates, second interviews, third interviews, the offer period, acceptance, and even on-boarding. There’s an added benefit to doing this, as well. If you’re dealing with a new hiring manager or one who’s not as savvy about what the hiring process entails, this is a great opportunity to educate them about its intricacies and the investment of time and energy involved. After all, if you’re going to receive a placement check at the end of this search, it would nice if the hiring manager understood the amount of work you completed in order for you to earn that fee. The hiring manager’s willingness to agree to this timetable is beneficial in two other ways, as well, which are the third and fourth components.

#3—Firm commitment

The hiring manager’s willingness to agree to a set timetable for the search process indicates a commitment on their part, and that’s arguably the most important component for qualifying the job order. After all, you can have urgency for a search without being committed to the process for filling that search. Or, to put it another way, the hiring manager can attach urgency to the search without making a commitment to your process for filling it. What’s to stop them from hanging up with you, picking up the phone again, and calling another recruiter? Nothing, which is why a commitment is important.

#4—Clear expectations

A set timetable also paves the way for clear expectations. If the hiring manager agrees to interviews occurring at a certain time and on certain dates, they can logically believe that you’re going to expect for those things to happen on the times and dates specified. What’s even more crucial, though, is that they believe you’re going to hold them accountable for those expectations.

That’s why some hiring managers like to be vague and fuzzy when it comes to the specifics of the job order and the search. If they’re able to speak in generalities, then they can’t be held accountable for much, if anything. If they say something later in the process that contradicts the expectations that were set at the beginning, then you can remind them of those expectations. More importantly, you’ll be better able to enforce those expectations and make sure that those expectations are met in full.

Re-confirm the hiring manager’s commitment

Obviously, qualifying the job order during the initial phone call with the hiring authority is extremely important. However, the first phone call only sets the qualifying ball in motion. Remember, the job order has to be qualified throughout the entire process, all the way to the where that the company extends an offer of employment to one of your candidates.

By not staying in “continuous qualification mode,” you run the risk of wasting your time or the search being derailed somehow. (Recruiter’s Law: If it can go wrong, it will go wrong, probably on the search I’m working right now.)

When you call the hiring manager back, which could be later that day or the next day, your goal is to test some or all of the components that you established with the first call. This could be done by presenting a candidate or two, which you might already have in your database or even off the top of your head.

By doing this, you’re gauging the hiring manager’s reaction and re-confirming their commitment and their willingness to stick to the timetable and comply with the expectations that were clearly set. Since the job order is a “living, breathing document,” it demands continued qualification. Although this undoubtedly requires more effort, it can be considered a wise investment as opposed to a lost cost.

A lost cause, on the other hand, would be working a job order that hasn’t been properly qualified, only to discover when it’s too late that there’s only frustration awaiting you at the end of the process, not a placement fee. But there’s an easier way to make qualifying a job order a habit as opposed to a sometimes occurrence.

Every time you take one from a hiring manager, let Jerry Seinfeld become your conscience: “See, you know how to take the job order, you just don’t know how to ‘qualify’ the job order, and that’s really the most important part of the job order, the qualifying. Anybody can just take them.”

It’s been said that Seinfeld was a “show about nothing.” The last thing you want is for your job orders to be “about nothing,” as well. Despite the current economic conditions and despite the excitement that a new job order can create, taking the time up front to properly qualify the job order can save you a ton of time—not to mention aggravation—in the long run.

Training videos about qualifying the job order

If you’re an agency recruiter or search consultant and you’re looking to sharpen your recruitment skills, you can do so with continuous training and education. The good news is that we can help with the Top Echelon Expert Recruiter Coaching Series of webinars!

These webinars are conducted by some of the most popular trainers in the recruiting and staffing industry on the second Tuesday or Wednesday of every month. If you register for a live webinar and can not attend, we record the session so that you can access it at a later date. These recorded versions are then posted on our website as free recruitment and selection training courses in the Top Echelon Recruiter Training Library.

Top Echelon’s coaching series of webinars addresses the fundamentals of the recruiting and staffing profession. They also include the latest tips, trends, and strategies in the industry. These topics deal with candidates, clients, and sometimes both, depending upon the speaker and their areas of specialization and expertise. As always, our goal with these webinars (and corresponding videos) is to help agency recruiters and search consultants make more placements.

Below are two of the videos in the Top Echelon Recruiter Training Library that deal with job orders. Click on the title of each video for access.

“How to Qualify Place-able Job Orders” by Bob Marshall
“The Opportunity Cost in NOT Shutting Down Job Orders” by Bob Marshall

Qualify job orders with your recruiting software

In addition to training and webinars, Top Echelon offers a recruiting software and applicant tracking system that can help you track your job orders and search assignments and save time in the process. We invite you to try our top applicant tracking software FREE for 15 days. You do not need a credit card to start your trial and there is no obligation.

Click HERE to start your free trial of Top Echelon’s recruiting software.

However, you don’t have to start your trial right away. Instead, you can request a live demo of our ATS and recruitment CRM. One of our account representatives will be glad to show you the software and answer any questions you might have.

Click HERE to request a live demo of Top Echelon’s recruiting software.

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