The Secret Behind the Most Successful Recruiters

What separates a highly successful recruiter from an average one? Well, over the past 20 years in the contract staffing industry, we have noticed one characteristic that seems to set the best recruiters apart from the rest - their keen ability to build strong recruiter-client relationships. Sounds simple enough, but what does that really mean? Specifically, we have found that recruiters who are successful in contract staffing AND direct hire do the following things:

  1. REALLY Know Their Clients. Those who just throw as many resumes as possible at clients to see what “sticks” give recruiters a bad name. The most successful recruiters only send a few highly targeted resumes. To do that, they have to do more than just a little "homework" on potential clients. They really have to really understand the company's culture, recruitment process, and what a candidate needs to do succeed there. To that end, many of these recruiters insist on meeting potential clients in person, and if possible, at the client's location.  During these meetings, the recruiters meet with as many people as they can, ask detailed questions, and tour the facility. 
  2. Offer a variety of staffing solutions. Successful recruiters know that if you don't offer all the staffing solutions a client may need, they may go to another firm. Therefore, they make sure they have a good mix of staffing alternatives, including direct hire, traditional contract staffing, contract-to-direct hire, payrolling, 1099 independent contractor to W-2 employee conversions, retiree re-staffing, and internships/co-ops. Giving clients just one point of contact for all their staffing needs is a great way to build loyalty.
  3. Sell a SOLUTION, Not a Person. Clients may know that they have a staffing problem, but they may not know that one of the alternative staffing arrangements mentioned in #2 can solve those problems. Instead of simply trying to fill a position with a direct hire, ask some open-ended questions to determine the client's exact need. You can then suggest a viable solution that may fit their need better than a direct hire. For example, try asking if they have a special project or upcoming deadline. If so, you may suggest a traditional contract staffing arrangement.  Are they under a hiring freeze? Mention that a contract-to direct situation can allow them to bring in help on a contract basis and then convert them to direct hire when the hiring freezes lifts because contractors typically come out of a different budget. By providing viable solutions, you position yourself as a true partner, not just a vendor.
  4. Become an employment resource Besides staffing solutions, companies may look to you as a resource regarding employment laws and issues. Therefore, be sure you are keeping up on on issues such as healthcare reform (aka Obamacare), wage and hour regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and proper worker classification (1099 independent contractor vs. W-2 employee).
  5. Follow Up. Of course, you are always in frequent contact with the client when you are actively working a job order. But don’t forget to follow up with potential clients when you DON'T get the job order. Call them occasionally just to touch base. You want to be sure to stay at the top of their mind so that when they DO have a need, they think of you first.

Anything you can do to add value for your client builds stronger relationships. By doing building those relationships, you will not only retain current clients, you can can also gain new ones through referrals and word of mouth. Simply putting your client first can elevate you to the status of a highly successful recruiter who can thrive under even the most difficult conditions.

Debbie Fledderjohann is the President of Top Echelon Contracting, Inc.

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