Don’t Let the Client Bulldoze You Into Making the Offer

Mar 7, 2014

Under pressure - freeYou’ve worked hard and spent weeks assessing the client’s needs and interviewing potential candidates. Finally the perfect match has been found and the client is anxious to have your candidate come onboard. As recruiters it is our moment of shining glory. The stars have aligned and we stand at the apex of everything we are about and work for. Then the client puts the entire process into a tailspin by doing the unthinkable— insisting that they make the job offer to the applicant.

STOP! Do not let this happen. Nothing could be worse for the client, the candidate or for you!

Imagine checking into a hospital and then operating on yourself. That is precisely what your client is asking to do — and I tell them so. I also remind them that when you operate on yourself, there is a very strong likelihood that the patient will die on the table. When a client fails to allow you to make the offer to the candidate, they rob themselves of your expertise and greatly increase the chances of having the candidate reject the offer.

Next time a client tries to bulldoze their way into the offer phase try this:

Great, what part of your job do I get to do while you’re doing mine? I ask because making the offer is probably the most important thing I do for you, I couldn’t imagine why you would want to risk losing the candidate at this point in the process.

Remind them that good recruiters regularly maintain offer acceptance rates OVER 95%. Contrast that to the national average which is below 70%! Be prepared. At times you will have to educate the client on why it is in their best interest to have you making the offer. Some of the highlights:

  • Candidates need an advocate. Usually we are perceived as neutral territory so the candidates are more inclined to let their guard down and tell us the truth. That truth will be valuable information for our client, the employer.
  • In the middle of tough negotiations people often get emotional, which can lead to hard feelings and resentment. Even if the client is successful and “wins” the negotiation battle, it’s certainly a less than ideal way to begin a relationship with a new employee.
  • It is far better for you as the recruiter to play the bad guy if necessary. Explain this to your client while reminding them that in fact, that’s what they are paying you for!
  • When you make the offer, you can properly manage the candidate’s expectations and prevent your client from appearing exploitative or opportunistic. Presidents have press secretaries for one reason only —  to convey the best message. Tell your client, “Let me present you, and your offer, so your offer is not rejected and so you don’t pay more than required to land that candidate. Let me bring you the value of my expertise.”

Often young recruiters have the toughest time battling the age difference between themselves and an older client when it comes to who will make the offer. A great script to keep in your arsenal of overcoming objections is along the following:

____, I hear you, and I know we both get that this is a collaborative effort. Your 15 years experience is crucial while evaluating who to interview and in the key component of attracting our candidates to your job. However, mine is focused on the beginning part of the process — the selection — and at the end — the deliverables. If he turns down the offer, I get blamed. I have no problem with that, provided I am allowed to do what I am trained to do.

(Here’s the hard part.) With all due respect, I make, negotiate and finalize more offers in a fiscal quarter than the average hiring manager does in a decade. It’s the very nature of the business. Please let me do what I do best in our collaboration. It will benefit both of us.

Remind the client that they pay you to be in the candidate’s head. It is your job to know what offer will be acceptable — to know what matters most to them.

All of this becomes immensely easier when you develop a high level of trust with your clients. Trust is a fairly abstract term, so let’s define it. Webster describes trust as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something. One in which confidence is placed.” I prefer to focus on the second part. When you build confidence with a client, they are much more apt to turn over all aspects of the recruiting process to you. Treat each client as if they are extremely special. They are.

Of course once you’ve been given the authority to make the offer, you’ll want to deliver and shine. Remember at this stage to complete all of the important steps:

  • Present the offer to the candidate – This includes all components of offer like compensation (bonus, commission structure, stock, etc.) benefits, title, reporting structure and start date.
  • Facilitate any negotiation – While keeping the client’s and the candidate’s best interests at heart, secure a final agreement of terms.
  • Get a formal acceptance of the offer – Obtain a signed offer letter. If later the candidate resigns, be sure you manage that process as well, and obtain written and verbal notices.
  • Follow up with your client and the new hire – So many in our industry miss this important step. Stay in touch with the candidate. Track his or her progress while helping facilitate a successful integration within a new corporate environment.

I love what I do but as I’ve said many times, I don’t work for free. I work hard to earn money to support my family. When it comes to our fee, the most pivotal part of the entire recruiting process comes down to one thing—how well we execute making offers to candidates. One small misstep can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection; between getting paid or not. Success or failure – it’s just too important to relinquish this responsibility to anyone else. Let clients know the rules of engagement early in the process: you find the perfect candidate and you make the offer. If you fold up on this, you do your client a tremendous disservice. Consider it an offer they can’t refuse.

Image: Paul /