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Oct 16, 2015

We all see a future client in every candidate we interview, right? We were taught so because when we were new in the job, our bosses gave us ratios of “VIP candidates“ to meet, the only aim being of course to try to get a job order from them.

But it did not work out this way, right? Why?

Candidates blame us for seeing the world in white or black:

  • Manager in the job = potential job order giver;
  • Manager out of the job = “to sell.”

But are candidates really better? No! They think, “Jorg’s sole reason to exist is to find a new job for me.“ They neither think, “Hey, I have a vacancy in my team and Jorg is perfect to recruit a replacement“ nor “What an awesome recruiter! As soon as I am in the new job, the next job to fill will go to Jorg Stegemann with Kennedy Executive and to no one else in the world!“

Why do we convert so few candidates into hiring managers and what are the top three reasons?

Here’s what I’ve discovered over the many years I’ve been in this business:

1. Meeting Us Is Destabilizing

Job interviews are a natural thing to us as we run them every week. But for most people in the world, they are unpleasant and no matter what, there is always a stress factor involved, especially if the candidate is not in the job any more.

Going from interview to interview, waiting for the promised answer that almost never comes (“I will call you on Friday“) is tiresome and can be very exhausting. Furthermore, most efforts will be useless and most hopes will be spoiled as chances to find a job through us are only 15%. During this phase, the most proven manager in the world is fragile. And once the candidates have found a new job, they will wish to forget this uncertain period in which their self-assertiveness was tarnished. Forgetting this period often includes burning bridges with people who have seen them when they were crippled, including the recruiter who met them when they were a candidate!

2. We Have Become A Confidant Of The Planned Betrayal

We know something their boss doesn’t: The candidate in front of us has become disengaged from his employer and is trying hard to get away from it. Their employer is not aware of this in 95% of the cases. Candidates will do everything to keep it a secret – which will logically include never putting us in front of their boss. If the candidate does not know us, how should s/he trust we won’t talk to their boss, hoping to get the job order to replace them? And for the other 5% in which the boss knows their employee will leave, his or her opinion will not be listened to anyway. Who trusts a defector?

3. Third Rate Follow-Up

No list on lost sales can be published without stating lousy or nonexistent follow-up. Trying out a new recruiter because she called at the right time does not cost anything; the cost for a client to walk away from us is zero. It is a general insight in our job like in any other job with a high sales component that sales are lost because consultant A did not call at the right time – but consultant B from a direct competitor did. What do we do to ensure that we and our teams do not lose a sales for this reason?


The truth is that chances are low of converting a candidate into a paying customer. But ignore that; continue to do good and build goodwill, treating our candidates well – better than our competitors do. Some of them will think of us when they are in a position to hire. Others will recommend us to their network. Most, of course, will not. But then, what goes around, comes around.

And even if it does not come around, we will feel much better in our job, one of the most ethical ones in the world – if done right!

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