Building a STRONG Client Relationship

Dec 8, 2009

I’ve often heard recruiters comment that their main responsibility is to provide a service by sourcing and hiring candidates. I find that although sourcing and hiring is certainly at the heart of what I do, I believe that the keystone of my role as a recruiter is to continually build and refine my client relationships.

In doing so, the sourcing and hiring comes secondary and without fail.

Additionally, I prefer using the term “providing a solution” vs. “providing a service.” We are ambassadors of our respective companies, who in turn provide a solution to our clients.

The solution is quality talent through a quality recruitment process. Below are several core objectives I use in building and maintaining my client relationships. I’m hopeful that in some way they can assist you as you strive to build strong, cohesive, thriving, and lasting client relations.

Know Your Product

What is your product? Your client is your product!

Far too often recruiters are ill-prepared when it comes to understanding their client.

What is their culture like? What services do they provide? What is their benefits package? What separates them from their competitors? What is the actual job description and requirements of the role? Where do they stand in the market? What makes them successful? It’s imperative to your success to know your client’s landscape inside and out.

Listen to Your Client

One vital key in building any relationship is knowing how to be a good listener. As a provider of solutions (talent solutions), we are considered subject matter experts (SMEs) in our field.

If we’re not careful, we have the probability to come across with a know-it-all mentality. What our clients need is the SME coupled with outstanding listening skills. We may think we know what our client wants, but if we’re closed off to truly listening to their needs and advising appropriately, we’re destined to fail at every step. We also short-change ourselves in being closed-off to a new idea and/or way of doing business. The old adage “less talking and more listening” is certainly apropos here.

Pick Up the Phone

Email is a wonderful tool. However, whenever possible, pick up the phone and speak one-on-one with your client.

Most clients welcome hearing a human voice on the other end, especially when you’re working on their behalf toward a hiring goal. Having a continuous dialogue in email can sometimes take the personal touch out of building a strong, lasting relationship with your client. Additionally, by speaking one-on-one with your client, you can avoid the back-and-forth of marathon emails as well as gauge your clients’ mood, reaction, and receive timely feedback, and if you’re really fortunate…a little well-earned praise!

Offer Timely Feedback and Updates

Provide timely updates on candidate status and projected time-frames. Based on your client’s preference hold weekly or bi-weekly status meetings. Provide immediate feedback on candidates when their status changes. Keep everyone involved in the process and in the loop, and always thank them for their time and support.

Build Credibility By Delivering Quality Results

Let’s face it; our clients want the biggest bang for their buck. Who doesn’t? Our objective is to provide top-notch candidates via a world class recruitment process. If we provide anything less, we don’t deserve to the opportunity to work for them. Stay focused on your objectives and don’t just work hard, work smart.

Don’t Promise Things You Can’t Deliver

I’ve seen former bosses, out of eagerness to land the deal, promise a service they couldn’t deliver only to have it drastically backfire when they couldn’t. Promising a service you truly can’t deliver, only to initially impress the client, will only diminish your credibility in the long run. Be honest about what you can deliver and when. You’ll be surprised at how far genuine honestly will get you.

Remember Whose House You’re In

Always remember you’re a guest in your client’s environment. When you’re a guest at someone’s home, you’re mindful of the rules, gracious, and respectful of your hosts. The same applies in your client environment. Be on time, if not early. Don’t rush out the door at 5:00. Show the client you care and are available by staying after hours from time to time. Let them know they can reach you after hours via cell phone (and remember to keep it on). Follow the dress code and dress one step above if you can. Maintain a tidy, proficient workspace. Always uphold yourself to a high degree of professionalism, dignity, and integrity. Even when you don’t agree with your client, always be mindful that you’re in their house and it’s their hard-earned monies that actually pay your mortgage.

Attitude, Attitude, Attitude

I’ve seen some of the best recruiters walked out the door due to bad attitudes. When we walk through the doors of clients’ offices, we leave our personal lives outside and put our game face on. Again, we are here to provide a solution, not be the problem. Stay positive and professional at all times.

In the event you feel you just can’t take it, step outside for a breather. Call your boss for a pep talk. I can’t tell you how beneficial this has been to me. I’ve done this a few times myself with my leadership and advisors. By doing so, I’ve remained professional, kept the integrity of my company, and myself, intact. Then I can get back to work and stay focused, even if I was gritting my teeth underneath a fake smile.

Always take it outside the walls of the client, even if they’ve truly wronged you. Our leadership team is first-rate, fair, and will aide you in whatever way necessary to rectify the situation. A positive attitude will always yield a positive outcome.

Stay Abreast of Industry Trends and Speak Their Language

By staying in tune with industry trends, both from a recruitment perspective and your client’s, you add tremendous value to your process, can provide valuable insight, and establish that you’re truly dialed in. It also provides you the aptitude to speak your client’s language and will garner you more credibility.

At the end of the day, our clients ask themselves one question: How successful were we in growing our business today?

I challenge each of you to ask yourselves that question as well: How successful was I in helping my client grow their businesses today?

When we grow our clients’ business, we in turn grow our own businesses.

When you daily challenge yourself with this question, I guarantee that you’ll be a superstar at building client relationships.

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