Become a Valued Partner

  By Chris Heinz  |    Monday March 29, 2021

Category: Expert Advice, Recruiting


Recruiting is HARD!

Cold calling...emailing...recruiting...rejection...indecisiveness...ghosting...collection calls...the list goes on and on.

A list like this makes you want to search for your liquor of choice, doesn’t it?

While there is no way to eliminate many of these elements of the recruitment profession, there are certain things you can do to make it more enjoyable and even more profitable.  One of these ways is to become a valued partner with your client-companies. 

What defines a Valued Partner?  I am NOT just talking about companies where you make lots of placements.  To many, that would be the very definition of a valued partner or the old name of “key account.” 

As a valued partner, you are in “the room where it happens.” (yes, I went to the Hamilton musical to make a point!)  You have conversations about the company’s strategic plans, with only some of them involving staffing.  They ask your opinion of best practices and you serve as the resident expert.  You might present to their team or on behalf of them at a conference. You are a TRUE partner.

This doesn’t happen overnight.  This definitely doesn’t happen from one conversation. This doesn’t happen from one placement.  It happens over the course of time.  But, when it does happen...magic!

Some of the elements of becoming a valued partner include:

  • Honest communication
  • Truly understand the leadership challenges
  • Bring industry and market-specific insight
  • Be part of their PR team
  • Deliver

Honest Communication 

There’s a quote from Mark Twain, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”  From a recruitment standpoint, I wish that thought was used all the time.  But, when you are in a transactional recruiting search, I know recruiters that would tell the hiring manager just about anything they ‘thought’ they needed to hear to want their candidate.  Rarely were those recruiters long for this industry.

If you develop stronger relationships with your clients and become more than ‘just’ a recruiter, you will be able to share everything.  The good...the bad...the sometimes ugly.  Shouldn’t you be doing this already?  Of course!  

Honest communication not only builds trust but also brings you deeper into ‘the’ conversation.  If your hiring managers know they can trust what you say, they will ask you more questions.  The more questions asked, the better the connection.  The  better the connection, the better the partnership.

Understand Leadership Challenges

In a transactional search, the only thing a recruiter cares about is a candidate getting hired.  Well, let me re-state that...they only care about THEIR candidate getting hired.

If you want to become a valued partner, start caring about the real challenges the hiring manager/decision-makers are dealing with.  Filling a position is usually a minor issue within the grand scheme of things. Ask questions of your client-partner that help you understand the challenges that are keeping them up at night. Ask questions regarding how their team is being impacted...about how their bonus is being affected.  Once you truly learn their actual challenges, you can grow beyond the transactional recruiter

Bring Market Insight

I covered this in my article, “Be a Champion for your industry” (Please link the article here) in January 2021. You should provide real value to your client with real insight.  I’m not talking about the headline from your favorite Industry website, but the insight that sets you apart. I’ve always believed that the moment you share something with your hiring manager that they don’t expect you to know, you IMMEDIATELY go to a higher level of respect and have a better conversation. 

Be part of the PR Team

Every conversation you have with a candidate about your client’s opportunity is a form of public relations.  You have the ability to craft the message.  You have the ability to respond to their thoughts...good or bad.  Even if a candidate isn’t interested, your interaction with them will help shape their thoughts of that company.  Well, that is only true if you share the company’s name.  If you are still keeping it close to the vest and being cryptic about the company, it is usually because you are afraid of ‘losing a fee.’  As a valued partner, you should feel more comfortable sharing everything you know with prospective talent including the company name.  If you are retained, of course, you are able to share.

Make sure to share the insights you hear from candidates with your hiring managers. This two-way conversation will help you better craft your message for future candidates and will better prepare you to handle negative information that is out there.  Don’t be afraid to share the negative...did you already forget about ‘honest communication?’  They will respect you for sharing and can usually give you insight that will help dampen the negative rumors.


It doesn’t matter if you are a transactional recruiter or a valued partner -- If you don’t deliver the talent they need, it does not matter.

If you can deliver the talent AND communicate honestly AND understand their real challenges AND bring insight AND effectively promote their company…

Now you have the opportunity to turn the relationship into something great!

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