Top Tips on How to Manage New Client’s Expectations in a Candidate-Short Market


We all know that managing our clients’ expectations in relation to the current market is key to having a good relationship with them and avoiding disappointment (or worse – losing a client!). 23% of agencies are failing to meet their clients’ expectations and over 16% are facing client retention problems! These numbers might be a bit scary, especially that going into the market shift, we can’t afford to miss out on clients. With the industry being so unpredictable at the moment, business owners are hesitant to make any changes or spend more money. It’s your job to make sure they feel like your services are a necessity.

Don’t worry, we’re here to help – we put together an easy guide to prepare you for those tough conversations.

1.     Start with explaining the market – you’re the expert

This might seem obvious but knowing your niche and being aware of what’s happening in the industry is your biggest asset. Especially these days, when the market shifts quickly and changes might feel sudden and unexpected, a lot of clients are tentative to make big decisions. Showing them that you can predict what will happen and are equipped to deal with it will paint you as the industry expert that’s realistic and trustworthy. So don’t be scared to talk about the challenges – this shows you’re not going to pull wool over their eyes when things get tough.

2.     Make sure they understand current salary expectations

It’s no secret that with inflation and all the prices going up, candidates’ salary expectations will also change. The salary budget increase for both 2021 and 2022 stands at 3% compared to previous years and nearly half (49%) of employees feel underpaid – which means they are more inclined to leave. You have to address this early on, so your clients avoid disappointment and can adjust their salary ranges. Again, this not only shows you’re realistic about the market but also builds trust between you and your client. If a client wants to hire somebody with 10 years of experience, and an amazing skillset and is only willing to offer £25,000 for it, it’s worth letting them know it’s probably not going to happen.

3.     Talk about counteroffers

In a candidate-short market, counteroffers and fighting for top talent aren’t anything new. This means that your client has to be prepared to adjust their offer if they really want to work with a chosen candidate. It’s not just about informing them of the other offers – if you want to be seen as an expert, a go-to person that they can trust, you need to bring solutions.

4.     Update them on the candidate pool

It’s important that your client knows what the choices are. If you recruit in a certain niche, you have insight into available candidates that they don’t see – so be honest about what they can expect. Using your CRM to be able to let them know what candidates may be potentially available or what potential matches you have access to through your talent pools is always a good way of you giving them a peek into their options.

5.     Communication

It is important to make it clear to the client that you are going to include them in the recruitment process: Give them the right opportunity to express their thoughts and participate directly with you on the project. Being transparent within your communications paints your as a professional and a trustworthy partner – a great foundation for a long-lasting relationship!

If even after following all those steps your client feels unsure about your abilities, you should simply walk away. Over-promising and under-delivering is the worst that could happen to you as a recruiter trying to make their mark in the industry – so run from situations that might potentially lead to ruining your reputation! One client is not worth it.

2 men on a winning plinth new clients

Paul Briman

Growth Specialist Paul was a Principle Consultant in the tech sector before joining Firefish. He loves changing the way agencies recruit with software.

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