There’s nothing worse than putting forward a shortlist of great candidates to your client, only to have them all knocked back because they’re, “just not quite right”.
We’re in a skills drought, so finding candidates that tick every single box these days is really rare.
Therefore, it’s in your client's interest to be more open to considering great candidates who don't always fit their criteria perfectly if they want to move the hiring process forward.
So, how do you convince your clients to be more open minded about your candidates?
Educate your clients on the market
No one knows your market better than you – you know exactly what sort of candidates are out there and what's unreasonable to ask for. However, your clients won’t always be fully aware of the external factors involved, so it’s up to you to inform them.
To give them a clearer picture, share your market knowledge with them and back it up using data from your CRM. It’s always best to manage your client’s expectations early on, but don’t be afraid to go back to them later in the process if you discover certain skills have become sparse.
This way, you’ll educate your client on the latest challenges in the market and open up the conversation to discuss whether certain aspects of the brief are really necessary.
Which leads me onto to my next point…
Revisit the brief
Sometimes, clients don’t realise just how difficult they’re making your job by making the window of eligibility they put forward for a new hire so narrow. In fact, it feels like purple squirrels are becoming a standard request nowadays!
But more often than not, you’ll find that there's room for manoeuvre if you revisit the brief, as many of the requirements will be listed as ‘must-haves’ when they’re actually just desirables. This job ad for Adidas is the perfect example of this – can you really expect to find a candidate that can fulfil 90 requirements?
I feel for the recruiters who had to fill this role!
So if your clients are rejecting your candidates because they don’t match the requirements to a tee, revisit the brief with your client to establish what the real must-have attributes are and which requirements could be changed to desirables.
By doing this, you’ll help your client realise what skills a candidate really needs to have in order to do the job. It’ll also give you a clearer, more realistic brief to work with and might even convince your client to interview a candidate that they were previously unsure of. It’s win-win!
Warn them they’re missing out on top candidates
As strange as this might sound, often the candidate who ticks all the boxes and appears to be the perfect fit can be the worst fit.
In today’s market, candidates want the chance to learn and develop skills in the workplace. Therefore, a new hire with all the right skills has probably outgrown the role before they even start, and they’ll be looking for something new pretty quick - leaving your client high and dry (and potentially you too, if they leave before the rebate period is up!).
A real top candidate is someone who’s capable of doing the job but has lots of room for development, as they’ll grow within the company and have a lot more to offer in the long-run.
So if your client is dismissing candidates because they want someone who’s already 100% qualified who can hit the ground running the minute they walk through the door, they could be missing out on the kind of loyal candidates who are brilliant for business.
It’s likely your clients will be measured on attrition rates, so conversations like this can be really convincing.
Highlight the benefits of looking beyond CVs
One of the reasons candidates like working with recruitment agencies is that they know you have the skills to sell personal traits and transferable skills that don’t always translate so well onto paper when they’re creating a CV.
If your client rejects a candidate who you’re confident can do the job, push back and highlight their soft skills and transferable experience. Often, you'll find it's candidates with strong soft skills like resilience who will go on to grow and develop within a business.
To really convince your client to invest in these candidates, go the extra mile by asking your candidate if you can request an informal reference from their old employers about their soft skills. By doing this, you provide your client with tangible evidence of your candidate’s personal traits and soft skills – which is far more convincing than your word alone!
These are the kind of conversations that can lead to retained contracts with clients, as you'll be demonstrating you really know your market. We've got a great eBook that will help you start pitching (and winning!) retainers with your clients. You can download it below!
Joanne is a Senior Growth Specialist at Firefish. She loves bringing on board new recruiters who are looking to recruit smarter.