Ask Mike March 15

  By Michael Gionta  |    Sunday March 9, 2015

Category: Columns, Expert Advice, Recruiting


Coach Mike,

I just got off the phone with a potential client. She asked me: what makes you different? What sets you apart? I described to her my process of identifying 100 people, calling them all multiple times, coming up with a short list of 3 or 4 excellent candidates, etc. didn't really do it. And it didn't "do it" for me either as I heard myself saying it.

Shortly after the call I got over myself and sat down and wrote the answer to the question of what sets me apart from other recruiters. I will imprint it on my brain and make it mine so that I won't be taken off guard again. There are three things: One, I don’t take on a search unless I think there is a good chance that I can fill it. I pass up many searches if the goals are not clear and if the urgency is not there.

Two, I’m an expert. If you look at Malcolm Gladwell’s definition of expert, it is when one has done something 10,000 times and having been a recruiter for 10 years, I have met that criterion three times over.

And three: I get a commitment from the hiring managers to provide meaningful feedback to me within 48 hours so that I can keep the candidate informed and engaged. I develop good relationships with the candidates; I hold their hand through the process and make sure they stay focused. During the offer stage, I manage expectations while ensuring that both the candidate and my client are happy with the end result. How would you respond? 

~Denise S. Colorado

Denise, I'm sure that is all true. Prospects hear VERY similar things from many recruiters. Differentiate yourself through asking great questions. When they ask what makes you different DON'T ANSWER IT! Instead ask, "if you could wave a realistic magic wand what would you want to see from a search partner relationship?" then ask additional questions to go deeper on their statements.  Get the prospect to talk about what is working well and not so well with the recruiters they are currently working with or that they have worked with in the past.  Then one of the things that will make you different is that you will diagnose the problem before you provide a "prescription" to solve it.

Learn more at The Recruiting Firm Owner Summit

Coach Mike,

Please give me your thoughts on a client - I have access to a VP who have placed over 20 senior sales roles with in his past company all done contingent. He is a VP at a new company - where I have placed 3 people before his arrival ( he knew the founder or I would have placed him as well.) He has 6 open head count and needs them filled by April 1st.   I told him we are moving to shared risk model  and I went through the reasons why it benefits them .... long story short - he is not comfortable paying up front ... even with guarantee. Obviously this is not the first time we have heard this.. I am curious how you have over come this obstacle...

I asked questions and they just don't trust just 1 recruiter - despite my placing 90% of the winning candidate on roles he gave me-- i went through the down side of multiple recruiters and how none will make it a priority in this market -- where he knows I will succeed and u know that i send exactly what you want and I will provide a full refund if you decided the quality is not there ( if i don't send 3 people u the hiring manger deem quality or worthwhile in 30 days )  

~Rich R, Boston, MA


Rich, My gut is you didn't probe for pain and then sell the detailed process. Why would he want to pay upfront if he never did before? If you placed 20+ people with him ask him point blank: "Bob, you have hired over 20 people from me before. Where have i missed the mark with you in the past that makes you uncomfortable using me?" "Are you comfortable that I will fill these?" If he says "yes"... you can say then that raises a red flag for me that you plan on using me to do free research against some internal candidates you might have."  You can also ask him, "Do you know what occurs from the time you hang up the phone with the other recruiters until the time you see a candidate?"  They won't know.  You can they say, I just told you what I would do.  It no longer makes business sense for me to do that on contingency.

Then you have a choice... You can say you aren't working on it and re-visit later. You COULD tell him "If you get the same or better results from the other recruiters, you don't need me". It's a risk, and Yes, I have done that.  I converted some to retainers and lost some. It's a matter of what direction you want to take your business.

Learn more at The Recruiting Firm Owner Summit

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