The simple, glaring truth that none of us can get away from is that recruitment is intensely competitive and that savvy recruiters must always be looking for ways to stand out in the eyes of candidates and clients.
Clients are coming to a recruiter to find top-tier candidates to fill their role, and candidates are seeking you out to see suitable vacancies to fit their skills and career dreams.
But on the surface, that doesn’t make you different from any other recruiter, who are all claiming to be able to provide the same high-level candidates and roles.
So how do you make them choose you? And when a client isn’t happy with the crop of candidates you’ve presented, or the candidate misses out on a significant role or two you’ve put them forward for…
How do you keep them from going elsewhere? How do you stop them losing faith?
The solution is also glaringly simple.
Your customer service is what makes people stay
In recruitment, you must be a bit of an amateur psychologist: you must understand how personal connections and loyalty drive human behaviour and decision-making. When you take extra time with a client or candidate, really listen to their needs, and take time to follow up, you are;
1. Showing them that you care about their success, above and beyond your placement fee.
2. Getting to know them better, so you are genuinely being able to provide a better service with a higher success rate.
3. Building loyalty! It’s this loyalty that stops them from moving to a new recruiter at the first hiccup.
Whether candidate or client, you should be building a relationship for the long-term, not the short term (even if you think the candidate is so amazing they’ll land the first role they interview for. If they’re that amazing, you want them for their whole careers, not just this one placement!)
When something goes wrong, you want your client or candidate to immediately think:
‘They’ve been really good to me. All that effort they’ve made that they really didn’t need to. I’m going to stick with them; I’ll give them another chance.’
Loyalty is the most precious commodity in business.
And ‘above and beyond’ customer service is the way you build it.
It’s also the way you grow your reputation so that other clients and candidates hear about your unusually excellent customer service, and approach you.
Too Simple to Be True?
And while you think it might be a solution so simple that everyone is doing it, that’s where you’re wrong.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard candidates shocked to listen to me call after hours to follow up on the success of their interview or thanking me profusely for offering the little bit of time it takes to run through their CV or some likely interview questions.
I’ve also been delighted to find that dormant clients are always happy to speak to me when I call to check up on how they’re doing- even if I haven’t placed a candidate with them for a year or more.
This check-up call sends the message that you don’t just care about the clients that spend big, it keeps you fresh in their mind for when they need placements, and it also encourages them to help you out by recommending you to their friends. It’s a virtuous circle.
Why is something so fundamental, so compelling?
Recruiters are busy, busy, busy. So naturally, the first thing that falls off their to-do list is the discretionary effort (that is, they don’t have to do it). And customer service—at least at the level where you’re going the extra mile and doing things that aren’t actually crucial tasks—is the very definition of discretionary effort.
We help those that help us, and we like to do business with those that we like. Again, core human psychology. If you understand that and act on that fundamental principle to make your clients and candidates feel special, you will be a wildly successful recruiter.
So, what can you do to give candidates and clients the ‘special treatment’?
1. Make your commute work for you.
It takes surprisingly little effort to wow a candidate by calling them on the train on your way home from work to run through some interview prep or request a client to check in on that candidate you placed last quarter.
2. Take an excellent candidate to their interview.
This one for the recruitment superstars. It takes more effort to accompany a promising candidate to their interview but believe me; you’ll have them for life when you do this (and increase the chances that the hiring manager will take the candidate seriously when you introduce yourself before leaving them to it.)
3. Schedule reviews with your client.
In your initial meetings with the client, you should have discussed their recruitment goals, and taken copious notes. After some time has passed and you’ve placed candidates with them, you should request a follow-up meeting with them to discuss how their hiring strategy is paying off.
You should also wow them with any specialist industry knowledge you have, such as any recruitment trends, or new employment regulation that applies to their business.
4. Work on reducing your email response time.
Everyone is impressed by prompt response, and everyone is frustrated by a slow one- mainly when a job hangs in the balance! Learn better skills to get to ‘inbox zero’, whereby your email is under your control.
5. Set one customer service task as one of your MITs.
MIT’s, for the uninitiated, are Most Important Tasks, the critical tasks that you must get done in each day in order to be a productive recruiter. The unfortunate thing is, that customer service often ‘falls off’ this list, as it is often discretionary effort. But as we’ve discussed, it is this discretionary effort that sets you above the other recruiters—ones who are just attacking the crucial day-to-day tasks. So make sure you include at least one significant customer service action in your MIT list for each day.
There are so many ways to build client and candidate loyalty. We know it’s a lot to ask of busy recruiters, but the unfortunate truth is that you’ll be a lot less busy if you lose your biggest client or top candidate to that other recruiter that’s sniffing around!
And your job will genuinely be more satisfying (and more profitable) when you provide better customer service.
Until next time Cheryl