The key to a successful candidate speccing process is to accept that it’s not just about placing a candidate in a role but about building strong, lasting relationships along the way too.
Use this failproof candidate speccing process to nurture your good reputation with clients and candidates and stand out against the KPI-driven recruiters that do it all wrong.
Step 1: Recruiter interview
A good candidate speccing process always starts with a thorough conversation between you and the candidate.
This might not feel like an interview to them at this stage, but it’s one of the biggest tests they’ll face in finding a new job: You’re using this conversation to find out if they’re the unique, grade ‘A’ candidate you can confidently take to market.
When conducting the interview, you should always be looking to identify the main top qualities that the candidate could bring to their next role and dig for 3 or 4 notable achievements that will help you confidently sell them to clients.
For example, “The candidate took on a project that was valued at £1.5 million, and when they took it on it was running 4 weeks behind with only 4 weeks left till the scheduled completion. They were able to complete the project on time and within budget, allowing the company to secure another £5 million worth of further projects”.
This is the kind of solid example with evidence that clients want to hear about.
Step 2: Build your hitlist
Your next step is to start building an agreed-on client list of companies that the candidate wants to work for and places where you believe their unique skill set would be put to good use.
Using your CRM, build a list of companies you’ve agreed to target. Do not include any companies in this list that your candidate hasn’t explicitly agreed to. Shoehorning candidates into roles they don’t want doesn’t work for anyone and this is the kind of practice that gives recruitment a bad name.
Your list will be made up of 2 different types of companies:
- Clients you already work with – you already understand how these companies work, what their challenges are and how this candidate could fit in and bring value.
- Prospects you haven’t worked with yet – who you’ve identified as being strong matches for this candidate but will need to spend time researching to identify hiring challenges and begin warming them up before you call.
With the above options in mind, you’ll clearly make your life a lot easier if you focus on clients you already work with first.
It always blows my mind that a lot of recruiters will jump straight to prospecting with hiring managers who don’t know them before trying their existing network first!
Step 3: Send your spec emails
An engaging, fully personalised spec email is the key to opening the door for this candidate, so never skimp on this part.
Generic recruitment emails that focus on you and your agency rather than the candidate and the client’s needs are the thorn in the foot of most candidate speccing processes.
Your speccing email should introduce the candidate through benefit-led bullet points. Clearly and concisely demonstrate what the candidate would bring to the client’s company based on the research you’ve done.
If you’re contacting an existing client, lead with urgency. A little bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) can really work in your favour at this stage!
For your prospecting list, focus on what you know about the company and how this candidate directly fits their hiring needs. This will give you credibility as it’ll be clear you’ve done your homework and are not just trying to push a candidate into any old role.
Finish every email by telling the client what they can expect from you next. For example “I’ll give you a call tomorrow morning to see if you'd like to speak with my candidate ”.
A lot of recruiters end their speccing emails with calls to action like “Are you free at 3pm to discuss?” but all this does is slow the process down. If you don’t get a reply but you call them anyway, this can come across as a aggressive.
Just let them know what they can expect and move onto the next step in the process…
Step 4: Follow up on every email
Follow-up calls are an essential part of the speccing process that a lot of recruiters don’t bother with if they don’t get a reply from an email send.
This is always going to be a warm recruitment call as you’ve let the client know that you’re planning to phone them and you either already have an existing relationship or you’ve spent some time warming them up prior to sending your spec email.
Keep the call concise and tell them exactly why you’re phoning. Sell in the candidate using your key selling points you got from step 1 that you stated in the email and push for an interview or meeting.
By picking up the phone to follow up on your email, you’ll stand out from a lot of other recruiters who just spray and pray with their generic candidates speccing emails - which clients hate.
Whether the client bites or passes this time round, you’ll be showing you genuinely believe your candidate is a good match for them which builds your credibility as a market expert and could lead to future business.
Which takes me to the last step in the process…
Step 5: Create your next opportunity
For every phone call that ends in a rejection, make sure you take the time to turn this into an opportunity.
Even if the client says ‘no’, make sure you’re still using this conversation to find out a bit more about the company to update your CRM with: What roles do they find hard to fill? What type of candidates have been successful at the company in the past? What are their plans for future growth and hiring?
This can reveal some great new opportunities where you or your colleagues in other niches could add value. And if that doesn’t work, at least you’ll be creating a warm client lead for when the next great candidate comes along.
The eBook below has everything you need to know to have positive conversations with prospects every day .
Growth Specialist Paul was a Principle Consultant in the tech sector before joining Firefish. He loves changing the way agencies recruit with software.