Creating Your Perfect Client, Part 1

May 6, 2009

Lots of people tell you to identify your perfect customer — sit down and write out what that customer looks like and then make that your target.

It stands to reason that you will be the most excited when you talk to these people, they will totally get you, and the fills will come more easily. Beautiful.

But let’s be honest. You sit down at your desk, look at the blank paper or computer screen, and where do you start? You think about Jackie at XYZ Company. She’s great to work with — always gives you timely feedback on candidates, gets interviews scheduled quickly, etc.

You would love to have more clients like her.

But the last two searches were cancelled, and they stopped offering relocation last year so those searches would have been a bear to fill. And really, isn’t that description more about Jackie than her company? Now what?

Rather than try to find something “perfect,” start instead with what you don’t do. Start with as broad a category as you can to eliminate those companies that you wouldn’t work with. Does it matter to you if the company is a product or service company? What about global versus domestic? Do you prefer public companies or private — or does that even matter?

Look at the locations as well. There are places that are harder to recruit than others, but are there geographic areas that you wouldn’t want to relocate people?

Next, how do you describe the culture of the companies you don’t like? What level of turnover is unacceptable? If a company had 30% turnover but had a good reason, maybe that is ok. But what if the turnover is 30% due to management?

What benefits convey the right culture? How does the company represent themselves to the world on their website? Do they back it up in their interactions with you? Take a look at their location structure. Can you tell from their website what functions are in which location?

If not, try looking at LinkedIn or other sites for people who work for the company. You can learn a lot about what activities go on at what location.

Tomorrow, in Part 2, Kathy will discuss new ways of thinking about the types of searches you work.