How to Deal With Indecisive Clients

  • Date posted: 06 Jan 2014
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Ok - so we've all been there. You've met the client, you've taken a job specification, agreed selection criteria and agreed terms. All set - you're about to deliver a winning shortlist and you're already calculating the placement fee....HOLD ON!!

Unfortunately this is not a Disney movie...recruitment doesn't always go the way we planned and not every job managed by a Recruiter has a Happy Ever After.

In today's climate where employers are still very discerning about hiring decisions, despite the volumes of roles live, client's often change their mind. It's just the way it is - accept it and don't get frustated.

Yes it's annoying when you know you've delivered the perfect candidate but there are some actions you can take to minimise the chances of this happening. You won't erradicate them completely - we're dealing with people here and they do change their minds, however a lot of these frustrating scenarios actually stem from your questioning skills. A more detailed investigation with the client at job registration stage should drastically reduce the chances of getting to final round interviews only for your client to reject everyone and finally decide what they really want and sending you back to the beginning again like an evil game of Snakes & Ladders.

First you need to understand how and why this happens. Usually it's one of the following:

1. It's an expansion role

Often in this case, client's have an idea of what they want and so they brief you accordingly. However, if this role is new to the company and there is no predecessor, the chances are they haven't walked this through in detail. Often it's the interviewing process that helps them understand what they really want and quite often the selection criteria will change mid-process. This is one you can deal with early on and reduce the impact it can have on your workload.

2. You're talking to the wrong person

It's very common for this to happen when you're not dealing directly with the decision maker. Whether you're dealing with HR, Internal Recruitment or just someone else that wouldn't be the candidate's direct line manager you might as well be playing Pin The Tail on The Donkey! A job spec is a flat document full of "ideal world" scenarios and lists of duties, it doesn't get to the heart of the matter, it doesn't give you an insight into the culture and personality of the team, and the person you are dealing with doesn't have first hand knowledge of the what the perfect candidate looks like. There are ways to manage this and keep everyone happy!

3. Your client is fishing

This is the most annoying one of all. You're dealing with the right person, they do have a role (apparently), but ultimately they're not that motivated. As there's no pressing need to take this person on they will happily fish away, letting you work away with no fee attached unless they take someone on, filling up their internal database all the while and getting lots of info about their competitors in the process. BEWARE of "fishing" clients - they will waste your time and while occasionally you might get lucky and spring a placement, you will most certainly have paid for it twice over in the amount of work it takes to get you there. There are few ways to really deal with this one other than look for flags that tell you that this is what you are dealing with - ultimately you have to understand whether it's worth it or not.

 

The Solutions:

1. The Expansion Role

The simple solution for this is to red flag this role straight away - any expansion role without a current or previous employee in place is a red flag. It means you must ensure that you have all decision makers around a table to talk this through. You must also spend more time understanding the role, what qualities would fit in with the team, agree different backgrounds that could be relevant and identify the difference between essential duties and experience and "like to haves". Ultimately you will have a slightly wider spec than normal and, by default, a longer shortlist but what you will have is a single process where the client is more likely to like one or more of your candidates, instead of rejecting all of them and effectively starting again.

2. The Wrong Person

The most simple solution here is to ask who this potential candidate will report to. If it's not the person you're talking to then you are definitely dealing with the wrong person. Now I know lots of you work on PSL's or through Internal Recruitment/ HR Teams, but actually most of them, if asked nicely, will involve the hiring manager if you remind them of why it is in their best interest ...NOT YOURS! If you can agree some contact with the Hiring Manager or a joint meeting you will be able to get into the right detail and agree the right criteria...the rest is up to you to manage the vacancy as normal as ensure the right feedback is coming through to you.

3. The Fishing Client

Sorry but there's no easy solution here. There are some warning signs that you are dealing with a Fishing Client though so pay attention! Usually this type of client will be quite vague about what they want, when you ask them to drill down into the detail on salary and benefits they will again be vague or will tell you they will "tailor to suit the individual". They will want you to "generally" let them know of anyone good. Now while you could make a placement here, this role shouldn't be your top priority. Any employer with real intention has put thought into what they want, the right fit for their team and what they can offer. You just have to make a decision on whether it's worth your time working on this one...if you have other stronger jobs to work on let them take priority and then you won't be disappointed.

So hopefully that helps you minimise your chances of getting the run around from your clients, if you have any other ideas and solutions on this then feel free to share. And if this doesn't help...there's always wine!

Keep Calm & Carry on Recruiting

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