Debunking Recruiting Secrets: Client Relationships

If you missed last week’s post, be sure to read it first HERE.

If you have read it, you know that I came clean and told you that there really are no secrets to great recruiting. The real secret is just following through on the standards of recruiting that we all know exist. Everyone knows what you are supposed to do to be a successful recruiter. Actually living them in your day to day business is what is key. I promised to drill down on the Big 3 assumed “secrets” last week.This week I elaborate on client relationships.

For some reason, building great client relationships seems to stand out (at least in teams that I’ve personally worked with) as a trait of really successful recruiters. In my experience those that “get it” are much more likely to be big billers and respected in the industry. After all, the client, or employer, is your customer in recruiting. They pay you, not the candidate. Without “owning the client” you can never fully own your placements or your desk. Finding clients in the first place is a post that warrants it’s own blog series. People design entire training programs on that topic. I will definitely have a blog about that in the future, but in my opinion, getting a job order, or obtaining the client for a first placement is not the hard part. It’s keeping that client and securing a relationship with the employer for multiple placements that is is the true value to you in great recruiting. The best search consultants I know do not have a lot of clients. They have a few clients that they place candidates with, over, and over again.

Here are 4 ways to build better client relationships as a recruiter:

1. Only Present Great Candidates.

Great recruiters only present great candidates. They aren’t just good, they aren’t just qualified, they are great. They are the candidates that go way beyond meeting basic qualifications. We’ll talk more about this topic next week. These are candidates that have that something extra that demonstrates they will be a great employee no matter who they work for. A great recruiter does not offer a “mediocre” product.

2.Don’t Lie.

Just don’t do it. There is no reason to ever lie to your client. As Mark Twain said, ” If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Don’t tell them you have a background that you don’t really have. Don’t say you have a candidate that meets the criteria they are asking for if you don’t really have one yet. Don’t embellish things to make yourself look better or give the client any reason to question your credibility.

3. Consistently Deliver.

One of the biggest mistakes recruiters make with clients is over-promising and under-delivering. They promise the hiring manager they can have a candidate for them by Friday before they have even began a search. They take on job orders that are impossible to fill. They say they will call and they don’t. Sure, you want to please your client, but pleasing them in the short term and disappointing them in the long term will not build a good relationship. The ability to consistently deliver on your promises is essential in recruiting. If you set a deadline, be sure you can meet it. If you don’t lie in the first place this becomes easier. If you consistently deliver, they will feel obliged to do the same and that will build a strong business relationship. Trust me on this one, it’s a biggie.

4. Be a Partner not a Peon

To expand upon the 3 items above, let me explain the biggest key to keeping great client relationships. Great recruiters are partners because they have great candidates, they don’t lie and they consistently deliver. When you submit a candidate that is just ok, you risk your reputation to find great talent. When you lie you risk your integrity. When you agree to work on job orders that are impossible to fill, if you are a contingent recruiter, this essentially means you are agreeing to work for nothing. Would you consider a candidate that told you they didn’t care how much someone paid them or if they were paid at all? Ultimately you are compromising your respect. Would you respect someone that had a mediocre product, lied, made promises they couldn’t keep? Instead, demonstrate your value as a partner in their hiring process! Push back when you need to. If a client knows you consistently have exceptional talent, and are always honest, they will not question why you can’t spend your time on an impossible job order. They will listen to your advice. They will understand that you have other clients that are competing with them for your time. Never be afraid to back away from a proposal that makes bad business sense for you. That only makes you a more valued partner to them. It will earn you respect which is key to any relationship.

What other skills do you find are key to keeping great client relationships? Tell me about them in the comment section below.

Amy McDonald works in an executive role with several employment websites including She has been working in the human resources and recruiting industry for over 20 years. Amy has worked with hundreds of recruitment professionals throughout her career, training best practices in sourcing candidates and refining the recruitment process. In her spare time, Amy also participates as a thought leader and contributor for recruitment information with BIZCATALYST360. – See more at: - See more at:

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