A good friend of mine recently started out in recruitment. She's worked in sales before and is excellent at closing deals, so I knew she'd have a good chance at making a success of a career in recruitment. It seems though, that she's struggling. Not because of her ability, she's managing to get vacancies and submit candidates, but because of the work of her predecessor. The person who ran the desk before her, who is now a director within the company, seems to have annoyed and alienated some of the major players within the industry and this is making it very difficult for her to foster a good relationship.
When she noted one of the main companies in their (very niche) industry was recruiting a number of roles that she had excellent candidates for she mentioned she was going to call and see if they required her help with it. Her director said she'd be wasting her time. They had previously fallen out with the client in a row over payment terms, not even whether they were going to pay, but when. The difference between being paid within 30 days and 45 had potentially cost her a placement, if not the chance to meet with and make friends with the hiring managers or HR.
This seems to be a common theme for her, she's trying to forge ahead, but thanks to the reputation and actions of her boss she is now really struggling to make an impact and is concerned she may lose her job. For an experienced recruiter this might be something they can overcome, but for someone new to the industry it will be much more difficult.
So on to my question, is there anything that would make you dump a client? There are some obvious answers. If you end up having to go to court to reclaim fees, if they make life exceedingly difficult at every turn then yes of course you should get rid of them. But what if they are good clients and there is just one awkward, irritating manager or HR contact? Do you grit your teeth and get on with things or do you kick up a fuss? How bad do things have to be before they become too bad to work with?
To throw in my 2 cents, I think reputation is hugely important in this industry. This is especially true when you think about how connected everyone is. HR, hiring managers, directors, everyone is LinkedIn or chatting or blogging or Tweeting. If you make one or two key enemies in the industry the news could end up spreading far further. In my book, if you have fallen out with a client, try not to let them know it!
I work in RPO, so we have no choice. We work with our clients no matter what in fixed, long term contracts. (I hasten to add that all our clients are great and a pleasure to work with!) It is hard therefore, for me to think of a circumstance when I would ditch a client. I think some recruiters (not all of course, but a significant minority) will on occassion allow their pride and frustration to colour their judgement.
Any thoughts on this folks? Always up for a healthy debate!
Samantha - to answer your question in short- yes! It is equally OK at times to dump a candidate. That is of course just my opinion, but if those that I am trying to help simply have unrealistic expectations my experience has shown it is just a waste of time. In my early days of starting out on a desk I worked next to a top biller and he had a great line with candidates 'Keep talking- I'm not sure if I can help you yet'. This just flipped the script and made the candidates feel as if they were lucky to even have a few minutes on the phone with this particular recruiter. That set the tone for the entire working relationship and they followed all the action items he would put in front of them. As we all know having that level of control in the process often can add up to success.
As for your friend, it sounds like she might be in a tough spot. She will have to re-educate all those clients that she is a new person and with that a new approach and hopefully a new chapter to reestablish a working relationship. But would it even be worth it in the end? Perhaps not. If the bridge is burned even a fresh voice might not help rebuild it. Is she able to go out and get new clients on her own? Ones that perhaps do not know of her agency? and/or have had experience working with her former director?
I agree that you should dump a client or candidate if they have unrealistic expectations and won't budge!
My friend works in a close knit, niche sector and all the companies seem to know the key players in all the other ones. This means she has little chance of breaking free of her boss' shadow and making her name with newer clients as most of them already have a negative opinion of the brand she represents. I think there is talk now of them diversifying into other markets, I've advised her to think about looking at another agency to work with, as it sounds like the one she's with now might just repeat their behaviour in a new sector.
She's concerned that with just a few months' experience she might not get a look in at any other agency and they might think she's a job hopper or been dismissed. I think she'll end up sticking it out for a year or so then finding a better agency to work for. Thanks for your comment Tim, hope you're having a good day!