The Myth of Candidate And Client Control

There is a myth in our industry, and it has deluded many well-intentioned recruiters. It’s called candidate control and client control. Ever hear of these phrases? If you have, then you have been deceived. You cannot control other people. If you think you can control them then you will come across as self-serving and the sophisticated businessperson of today can pick it up in your voice on the phone. Candidates are tired of being seen as walking invoices and clients get sick of pitches from unctuous recruiters whose only objective is to collect a fee. No one cares about your needs as a recruiter. They only care about what’s in it for them, not you. The sooner you start running your business that way, the sooner you’ll start seeing an increase in your production.

The smart and effective recruiter focuses on contribution first, fee second. There’s not any other way around it. You can’t manipulate your way to success in this business any more by trying to control other people. Buying resistance is at an all time high and what worked in 1999 will not work in today’s competitive market.

Here are two ways how you can get others to do what you want every time, and it’s very simple and effective.

First, find out what they want.

Second, give it to them.

In our unique and wacky industry, we are conditioned to believe that every candidate must get excited about the latest product our client has created or their stock options or the post-recession growth in its new markets whenever we pitch the concept to them. But we rarely take the time to find out what exactly and why specifically a candidate would move. And on the client side, we start pitching our firm without even knowing why they will buy.

Try this question the next time you come across a prospective client, and use it before you tell them how great you are:

“What are the criteria that you would use in evaluating a search firm that you would hire?”

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Here’s the candidate version:

“If I had your dream job come across my desk on a search assignment and I was going to call and tell you about it, what would be three things that you would need to hear for you to get excited about it?”

Remember that you can have the worst sales and closing skills in the business and still do well if all you find out is why someone wants to be influenced. Our business is more of a sales business than anything else. In fact, it is the purest form of a sale. Because of this, you cannot hide. Your effectiveness in this industry is purely sales effectiveness, and if you think you can get by with half-hearted pitches and canned control catch-phrases, you’ll end up very hungry.

The essence of selling is helping others make a decision which benefits them, not being controlled. Effective selling is more an issue of leadership and servanthood rather than manipulation. Take your eyes off of yourself, focus them like a laser beam on the personal benefit of your contribution, and you will find people waiting in line to do business with you for the rest of your prosperous career.

Scott Love increases company profit margins by working as a management consultant, author, and professional speaker with special emphasis in the executive search and staffing industries. He has been quoted in major city newspapers, national trade magazines, international business magazines, and the Wall Street Journal. He has his own weekly business column in the Gannett News Service. His free website for recruiters has over 50 free tips and tools to help you bill more.