There have been a lot of talks at recruitment conferences over the past years, discussing the “inch-wide, mile deep” premise of becoming a true expert in your chosen market place. Focusing in on a specific sector, knowing all the main players and developing an extensive network is key to achieving this.
I’ve personally worked with many recruitment companies in over 50 different sectors. Within each of these sectors, there can be as many as ten different divisions.
So what do you do when a good client of yours, asks you to place someone that’s outside of your core business?
It’s happened to all of us at some point or another. Your client has a position that they’re really struggling with and “we know it’s not quite what you do, but could you help us out here?” It’s hard to turn them down and of course you want to help.
So what prompted this post?
I write and deliver development programmes for managers and consultants in the recruitment industry. At the end of last year, I needed a team-building event for 8 consultants for their graduation day afternoon. In the past I’ve arranged and organised these myself, but the company was based in a more remote location and so I called on some experts to source something suitable for me.
A Director that I’d coached a few years ago had moved on to working with an events company. They’d already arranged some amazing experiences for me including a 7-day classic car rally from Kent to Venice and VIP tickets for Drake at the O2. She was more than happy to help me out again.
Her first suggestion wasn’t suitable as it was going to be mid winter… and I can’t stand the cold, but the next ‘Spy School’ could be held inside or outside. I chose the inside option and the amount was within my budget, so it seemed as if this would work. She suggested a museum location and I was happy.
They used a third party to supply this experience and although there was a 11 page PDF and a 6 page briefing document, it didn’t really share what we were likely to experience. I asked a few more questions, but trusted her.
Needless to say, the reality was nothing compared to what I’d thought we would experience.
The outcome was 3 teams of three, sitting around separate desks and answering about 100 questions on someone’s mobile phone – either through their knowledge or just googling it! There wasn’t anything related to the museum at all, so we could have all stayed at the most amazing pub/restaurant (The Bel & Dragon) where we’d had lunch before walking to the museum.
I was already on the phone to complain to the third party before the end of the event. Their response… “Sorry, we don’t have a record of your booking. I suggest you email the company you booked it through”.
The events company deal in high-end, quality experiences and this just wasn’t what they normally do.
So what are the likely outcomes?
- Your client now thinks less of you
- They’ll question the level of service that you’re able to offer in the future
- The trust that you had built up, has now been reduced considerably
- They may now think about giving that other company (that’s been offering the world for the last year) a try
- They won’t forget it
Practice what you are going to say to a client, when you’re put into this situation in the future. You don’t want to be caught off guard and then end up agreeing to work on a position that you know you can’t fill.
Offer to do some research and find a suitable supplier that you’re willing to vet for them (you may also want to act as the client contact in this case and work on a 50/50 split placement). Your client will appreciate that you were part of the process that got the position filled successfully.
If you do end up taking the role and not filling it, then make sure that you explain why to your client. Be honest. Let them know that you messed up and put a plan in place for next time they’ve got a non-core position that they want you to work on.