Customer is always right? Not anymore!

  • Reading time:7 mins read

If you prefer client to customer, because you are selling professional advice or services, no worries. Go ahead, it’s not going to change the principle of the matter. Customers and clients are not always right anymore.

What could possibly be the reasons for firing your client? Being a headhunter in Thailand for almost ten years, I have uncovered talented candidates but then watched as the client messed it up.

Rest assured that your favourite headhunter would want to complete your assignment as soon as possible just as much as you do. Search firms are the extended arm of your company and they are your best connection to the outside world when it comes to finding top candidates. By definition search assignments are difficult-to-fill positions. Please keep in mind that executive search firms specialise in this field and have the capability of finding qualified and hard-to-secure talented candidates.

Client mistake 1: To have any chance of selling the client’s job to someone who does not need a job, we must build an interest for the candidate to want to work for your organisation. After all, you cannot hire someone who does not want to work for your company. We need to work out an Employee Value Proposition. What do you answer when the candidate asks why he should come and work for you? Unless you work for Apple, Google or Starbucks, I tell you, to develop a value proposition is very stressful and not at all as easy as it sounds. It’s going to be up to you to attract them to your organisation, to pull them over the line so to speak. You must convince them that their careers will be better served with your organisation than where they are.

Smart clients know all this and have answers ready. Clients who still live in the past, will probably still sit wondering what happened.

Client mistake 2: Talented candidates are increasingly a perishable commodity. Talented candidates will assess a potential employer on a variety of points. Timeliness or responsiveness is often where the candidate is lost. Resumes may look like a pile of paperwork on your desk but they really are not. You need to react quickly to shortlists and give the candidates the impression you are taking their interest in your organisation seriously and with importance. Each resume is a real person that the search firm has cultivated, screened, and convinced to meet with your company. Smart clients know that FMCG is not only fast-moving-consumer-goods but also fast-moving-candidates-going.

Smart clients will have a process which quickly assesses qualifications and will use intelligent psychometric and cognitive tests to help. They will not ask a candidate to come for 5 rounds of interviews because few will do so unless they are currently unemployed or desperate to leave their current employment.

Client mistake 3: Candidates you have invited to your office start assessing your company and opportunity from the moment you or your HR Manager calls or emails. This qualification continues through to the confirmation and agenda you send (or not) prior to your meeting; to the kind of personal welcome (or not) that your receptionist extends upon arrival; to the cleanliness (or not) of your office reception area; to the meeting room with clean white board, chairs positioned nicely (or not) and with no half empty coffee cups from the meeting which finished hours ago in the same room; to you being on time for the appointment (or not); to your interview process which follows (or not) a structured process with questions prepared and you listening 80% of the time.

Smart clients have a hiring process that includes an email and agenda sent out beforehand, a notice to the receptionist that you are waiting for a VIP candidate to arrive, to ensuring your reception area and meeting room is looking clean and fresh. And ultimately you have questions prepared and you ask relevant questions. Other kind of clients still wonder why it’s impossible to find people to join their company. Oh well.

Client mistake 4: Time kills all deals and there is really no excuse not to respond quickly to resumes on the shortlist. The people we have presented to you are waiting to hear when you wish to move to the interviewing process with them. Smart clients have realized that it’s a seller’s market, meaning candidates often have many choices and do not necessarily need your job. Other clients in Thailand think we live in Spain with unemployment rates of 25%. Not so.

During the research, shortlisting, interviews and selection process we will spend many hours talking with candidates and it is a natural progression that we build strong relationships based on trust and integrity.  Through these relationships candidates often share their personal thoughts and crucial inside information.  Search firms are very successful in assisting their clients to understand all the factors that will affect a candidate’s decision to accept an offer.

Smart clients leverage the executive search firm’s relationship with their candidates and let the search firm facilitate the negotiations that’s a part of parcel of any move.

Client mistake 5: It’s not true. Don’t believe that executive search firms just want to push up the candidate’s salary because their fees are calculated on such compensation. End of the day, you are the client and call the shots what you want to pay for what kind of candidate qualification. We are not second-car salesmen or selling bibles door-to-door in low income communities. You are dealing with professional consultants, executive search firms who have a reputation to live up to and to protect.

In this competitive labour market and hiring environment the best outcomes are achieved when we can issue an offer at that critical point in time when the candidate’s interest is at its peak and the evaluation process has been properly completed. To issue an offer at any other time, except when these two events occur simultaneously, will seriously compromise the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.