What to do when the client has filled the role

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Lessons from the Wolf Pack is an ongoing series of recruitment advice articles taken from, or inspired by, situations and events observed during our phone coaching sessions with recruitment consultants making real, live calls to win business and find candidates. This is advice directly from the recruitment front lines!

Lessons from the Wolf Pack #6

What to do when the client has filled the role

A bit like two weeks ago when I talked about your decision maker up and moving company on you it also doesn't take long making recruitment calls before you run into the situation where a client has just filled a role you could have helped them with.

It's very tempting to feel down and simply end the call but of course there are better options than that and here are a few of them:

There are three broad areas to explore and you get the best returns by asking about each of them:

  1. The candidate who succeeded
  2. The candidates who failed
  3. What else is going on?

So the client says that they have filled the role. Now you and me know that clients can be a bit naive about these things and that when they say they have filled the role it doesn't necessarily mean that the position is actually filled or will stay filled.

I'd start by asking

"When does the incoming person start?"

Your clients answer will give you clarity on how far along the offer, acceptance, resignation process the candidate is.

Depending on the answer possibly follow up by asking

"Have they resigned?"

and even

"How confident are you that they will start?"

Where the successful candidate hasn't started yet then you must always ask the following

"What's their start date?

As us recruiters know a lot of people don't start when they are supposed to. What you need to do is make a note of the start date in your diary and call the company on the date, to see if the individual has actually joined. This is an excellent way to pick up a hot vacancy as you come riding over the hill like the cavalry to save the company from their candidate who has let them down!

And if you don't think this ever works then let me tell you that I used to work for a recruitment manager who got his recruitment management job by calling up and finding out that the company's first choice hadn't turned up and they then extended the offer to him! (And he was an excellent boss in case you were wondering.)

The next one is less important but of interest for your future dealings with the company as it gives you an idea about how they recruit. 

"How did you find them?"

Also if they have found one person via a particular route then the will probably favour that recruitment route in the future.

You might also want to ask

"Which company are they moving from?"

If the client tells you then that gives you a chance to explore filling the gap that the individual is making by leaving that company.

Moving onto the second area to explore; offer to help those candidates who got to final interview but didn't get offered.

Put it forward along the lines of

"I specialise in people like that and I'd be able to help them get their next job as I guess they're still looking."

It's true and makes things personal. Not all company's will hand over the details but it's always worth asking. Only ask about those who got to final interview however as you want to be seen as only working with the best candidates. (As you should be in fact!)

The third area to explore often gets overlooked as the consultant focuses on the role that they just missed out on. Always remember that just because one role has been filled doesn't mean that the company isn't needing other people that you can help them recruit for.

"What else can I help you with?"

“Who else is recruiting in the organisation?”

And look to the future as you would normally

"What recruitment is coming up in the next month / business quarter?"


The key thing here, as is often the case in recruitment, just because one door appears to have closed doesn't mean it actually has. Ask questions about the situation and then see what else you can do to help the client.

Until next time; be successful!

Stephen Hart
Development Specialist, Edenchanges.com


Views: 547

Comment by Nigel Coxon on April 10, 2013 at 9:29am

Good advice about getting the start date and calling to make sure they started.

"Not all company's will hand over the details but it's always worth asking"...in the UK I think they'd be in trouble with the data protection act if they handed over any contact details. I'm never sure where the recipient of such data stands legally...

Comment by Stephen Hart on April 11, 2013 at 4:55pm

Surely they would be able to share a name and number at the very least? I'm not a legal specialist, that's why the devil invented lawyers, but if I pass on contact details I'm sure that counts as networking?

Comment by Nigel Coxon on April 12, 2013 at 3:58am

I'm not a legal specialist either, but you can't be in this business very long without picking up some pointers...

From what I know it all depends on the intention of the owner of the information when they pass their details on to you. If you met them at a networking event, then everyone is there to share their details. There's an implied consent if I give you my business card at one of these events that you can pass it on to other people (that is what a business card is for after all).

However when a candidate applies for a job, that implied consent is harder to prove. Sure if they sign up with an agency the consent is considerably more than implied - what they WANT is for the agency to promote them to multiple opportunities (though it should be noted that when we do this we anonymise the CV initially, unless we have spoken to the candidate about the specific vacancy and received their expressed permission).

In terms of an employer passing on their details though - I'm really not sure. All they've consented to at that point is to be considered for that role. In particular if they are already in work, it could be very damaging to them if their current employer was not aware they are job searching and they find out as an indirect result of a hiring manager being loose with their details.

Comment by Stephen Hart on April 12, 2013 at 6:27am

I have a legal qualification and twelve years in recruitment so I know enough to hesitate to offer legal advice. My instinct is that an applicant for one job has signified his interest in opportunities but I'm going to go ask around and see what sharper legal minds think about this one.

It's a very good point you've raised Nigel.

Comment by Nigel Coxon on April 12, 2013 at 6:37am

I think it's the last point about the current employer that worries me the most...perhaps it's because my background is one of those industries where everybody knows everybody else. it may be dangerous to entrust details to an external recruiter who may not know that the technical manager of company X used to work at company Y, and further still lunches, plays golf, squash or whatever with the CURRENT technical manager at company Y who used to be his senior chemist.


It's also entirely possible I'm over-thinking it precisely BECAUSE of my background, so it will be good to see what you find out Stephen...


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