Are you pondering whether or not you are a trusted advisor to your client?  If so – then STOP pondering, the answer is likely “no”.  If you are viewed by your client as a trusted advisor, it's obvious and you don’t have to think about it.  It’s odd to me that in my 16 years in executive search (on both the agency side as well as on the inside within corporate America), I can count on one hand the number of clients that authentically view me as their search trusted advisor.  

For quite some time I have asked myself: “Why doesn’t every client view me as a trusted advisor, why don’t they get it?”  I’m not sure I have a solid answer yet.  I have realized though that it’s mostly not about me.  If you do great work; you do it quickly with little to no drama and everyone wins… right? Seems simple and intuitive.  It’s not tricky, just put yourself in their shoes.

So what is it?  Has the client been burned in the past?  Is that why they won’t let you in?  Isn’t this similar to someone that has been dumped or burned by an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend?  Walled of, won’t let anyone in or close for fear of being burned again.  Is this jilted lover phenomenon the cause of the tenuous client/recruiter relationships?  So when is it time to let go of the bad stuff that happened and begin to trust again?  This is the classic relationship story with the partner that got dumped or cheated on and swears off ever letting anyone in.

I’m not questioning the obvious benefits our clients enjoy when they retain us on a search and things run smooth and fast and everyone is happy.  It is as if you’re one of them, in their company, working for the same mission. I’m sure many of you have had this experience and know how great it feels.  I’m wondering why I can’t have all of my client relationships be like those few coveted client partnerships that flourish.  I have a few ideas though…

So why do some clients not allow you to be their trusted advisor?  Have we not done enough work together yet to prove our worth and value to the client?  Is it a lack of control thing?  Is it a sense of defeat that they have to call a recruiter to fill a need? 

The list is likely long and I welcome your thoughts as to why you think clients don't give you that trusted advisor moniker.  Listen, I can appreciate that many clients have been burned and believe me; I have heard thousands of horror stories that blow my mind, so I really get it. Remember, I’ve been on the inside. 

Think about what it is like to be around your very best friend.  It’s easy right?  It’s comfortable.  There is mutual respect.  You make each other laugh.  You help each other through tough times.  You’ll do anything for each other.  You trust each other.  Are you starting to see the correlation here?

So is it too much to ask that my client be my best friend and I my client’s best friend?  You trust your doctor with your life and you give full disclosure to your attorney.  Maybe there is something to learn about those relationships?

I think this is a big conversation and would love your thoughts.


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