How to Tell a Client You Don't Have Candidates Right Now

There’s a war for talent going on, so it’s not unusual to find yourself in a situation where you’re avoiding a client like the plague because you can’t find the candidates they’re looking for.

If this sounds like you, don’t worry – you’re not alone!

The important thing is that you take control of the situation so you protect both your client relationships and your reputation too.

If you’re ever struggling to find candidates for your clients, follow these steps…

Step 1: Set up a call with the hiring manager

how to tell your client you dont have candidatesFirst of all, you need to face the music! Dodging your client’s calls just because you can’t face telling them you don’t have what you promised is only going to piss them off and make them think you can’t do your job.

So, set up a call and get ready to clearly explain why you’re struggling to source the candidates they’ve asked you to find for them and the challenges you’re facing in recruiting for this role.

Your client will appreciate the honesty and it’s likely they’ve been struggling to recruit these candidates too, so they should understand your predicament.

Step 2: Use data to cover your back

This is your area of expertise – no one knows your candidate market better than you do – so it’s up to you to educate your client. Gather data and market insights that clearly explain why you don’t have a candidate shortlist for them yet.

You should be able to find these stats easily in your CRM. Show your client solid figures that demonstrate how many candidates you’ve contacted or screened for the role and why they weren’t a good fit.

This is all about showing how much time and effort you’ve already dedicated to sourcing for this role and educating your client on the market.

Don’t be afraid to tell them the candidate they’re looking for simply doesn’t exist (if you’re certain they don’t). At this stage, they basically have two options: wait until that non-existent candidate magically appears or go back to the brief…

Step 3: Go back to the brief

List out the road blockers you’re hitting when approaching their brief to show them why, based on the market data you hold, the candidates they’re looking for are so tough to find.

At this stage, you should feel confident enough to convince them to be a bit more open minded about reviewing candidates that don’t tick every one of their requirements.

The aim here is to try and convince your client to be a bit more flexible so this opens the door for you to sell in your candidates with transferable skills – or at least give you a fighting chance to find relevant candidates when you start your search again.

Step 4: Manage expectations from the start

Over-promising and under-delivering is one of the easiest mistakes you can make when taking on a new job. To prevent yourself from ending up in this situation again, it’s so important to manage your client’s expectations from the very beginning.

You know what’s possible in your market, so don’t make any promises you know you can’t keep. Don’t be tempted to say you can find a unicorn just to get a job on – it will only come back to bite you down the line.

Our Ultimate Guide to Sourcing Candidates will help you reach hard-to-find candidates in talent-short markets. It’s full of tips to help you catch that illusive candidate you’re searching for so you’ll never have to hide from a client again!

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Joanne Causer

Joanne is a Senior Growth Specialist at Firefish. She loves bringing on board new recruiters who are looking to recruit smarter.

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