4 Time-Wasting Prospects to Avoid in Recruitment Sales

One of the most important skills you’ll ever develop as a recruiter is how to identify the clients who aren’t worth your time and effort. As any successful sales person will tell you, disqualifying prospects is just as important to your recruitment pipeline as filling it up with opportunities.

So, who are these prospects to avoid and how do you identify them?

The Mole

Hand holding a stopwatch (time wasting prospects)Moles are prospects who act like they’re really interested in your candidates, then at the last minute, they suddenly tell you they’re not interested. These kinds of clients leave you vulnerable to backdoor hires as they’ll take the information you give them and try to source the candidate themselves to save cash.

How to identify them:

They probe you for as much information as they can get on a particular candidate, to the point you’ve told them everything except the candidate’s name and phone number!

If they’re really bold, they’ll even ask you to send over the candidate’s full profile before terms have been agreed and kick off when you send those over before you send them a CV.

Essentially, Moles are exactly why you should never send a CV before you have your terms signed!

The Bargain-Hunter

These prospects make you work harder than any of your other clients. They want everything for the cheapest price they can wangle and expect extra services for free.

As if that’s not enough, they also stack the odds against you by having loads of recruiters working on the same role, meaning you never really have a chance to fill their job anyway.

How to identify them:

They ask about fees before you’ve even really begun your conversation and tell you straight away that they think your fee is too high in comparison to other agencies they work with.

Don’t devalue yourself – this client doesn’t value the service you provide, so why should you take their low-ball terms seriously?  

The Bad Employer

Why recruiters quit These are the clients who are constantly working with multiple agencies at once because they treat their staff like rubbish.

They have a really high staff turnover because they have so many open jobs to work. But in reality, whilst this might sound like a cash cow, it just means your candidates will leave before the rebate period is up and you’ll have to give your fee back.


Clients like this aren’t just bad news for your candidates – they’re bad for you too.

How to identify them:

When you’re negotiating terms of business, these clients will normally demand a long rebate period with a full refund. This is a sign they’re trying to minimise any damage caused when unhappy staff walk out the door, but it also means you’ll end up filling their endless jobs for free.  

If you’re constantly seeing job ads appearing for a lot of the same roles ask yourself, “why aren’t they filled?”. Or even better, speak to your candidates – the industry never lies and word will travel fast if there’s a Bad Employer on the market.

The Squirrel   

These prospects say all the right things, agree terms, give you jobs but don’t interview any of your candidates. They aren’t really looking for new recruiters to work with – they’re just using you to stock their database with CVs that they can use once your terms have expired.

And while they’re at it, they’re using your terms to make sure they’re getting a good deal with the recruiters they’re actually working with.

How to identify them:

Unfortunately, Squirrels are tough to spot early on because initially, they’re very forthcoming. It will feel like they’re giving you everything you want, but they’ll also withhold certain details like how their internal recruitment process works or how long it takes.

This is because Squirrels want to drag the process out as long as they can so you continue to send them great candidates… that they have no intention of hiring through you.

The trick to spotting Squirrels early on is to start by sending just a couple of profiles over to see if you get any engagement. If they reject your candidate for no good reason (or the client is avoiding giving feedback but asks for more CVs), this is a good indication they’re squirrelling away your candidates for another day. Don’t fall for this!

If you want to build strong and amicable relationships with clients, our eBook can help you do that by showing you how to sell retainers in recruitment. 

Recruitment Retainers

Alan McFadden

Alan is the Associate Director of Growth at Firefish. An agency recruiter in a former life, he loves helping recruiters find ways to recruit smarter.

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