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March 3, 2024

Types of clients you should avoid as a recruiter

John Kim
Co-founder @ Paraform

As recruiters, our job is predominantly focused on finding, managing, and negotiating with top candidates. And because of this we often overlook the other side of the recruitment coin; finding the right clients. Working with the right type of client is just as important as working with the perfect candidate.

Having a direct line of feedback and operating side-by-side with a hiring manager who’s equally as invested in you as you are in finding the perfect client will elevate you.

Just ask Devashree. A recruiter on Paraform who sourced a world-class candidate, submitted him to the hiring manager, and got him hired in just under 3 weeks. It was the only candidate that she submitted for the role. The hiring manager outlined a perfect brief that enabled her to do a quick and easy job.

But there are many clients out there that will waste your time and drain your energy. Luckily, we can choose who we want to work with.

Here, we'll outline the types of clients you should avoid as a recruiter.

Commitment phobic

Some people like to window shop and consider all options before they make a purchase.

This isn’t wrong in itself but be wary of dealing with clients who take too much of your time while they make a decision. Many hiring managers just want to see what the process is like when working with an outsourced recruitment team while they try to fill the role themselves.

They usually put out a few feelers first, respond to different recruitment agencies, and come back if they feel the role is unfillable.

Fee hagglers

Not every company is going to see the value in recruiting a top candidate and believes recruitment is a liability instead of an asset to building a dream team.

They will try to save as much money on recruitment fees and aim to get top-notch service for cheap. If a client says anything along the lines of “We only have a budget of $5,000 to outsource hiring” and wants to hire a C-level/founding candidate, then they aren’t serious and don’t value recruitment.

No feedback

If you’re working to fill a role on a contingency basis, it’s super important that the hiring company gives you all the information you need to go out and find the right candidate.

If they’ve been active in the beginning and during onboarding but then give you minimal feedback on candidates that you’ve submitted. It’s time to drop them.

Price hunters

Like window shoppers, there are many clients out there who want to compare all recruitment options before going with the cheapest one. They may message or get in touch with you first to check “what your rates are” but have no intention of proceeding any further.

If a client messages you first and only wants to know your rates, it sometimes means that they have another recruitment agency that they’re considering but want to know what a going rate is before pulling the trigger.

This happens quite often, so think twice when you get those emails.

The resume stealer

Some clients have absolutely no intention of hiring at the moment but will have an ‘open role’ in order to collect resumes of top candidates.

Then, at a later date when they’re serious about hiring, will contact those candidates on file for an interview. Time will have passed and they won’t have any legal obligation to pay your recruitment fee. Sneaky.

You can sometimes tell if a client does this if they keep rejecting your candidates before the interview stage with conflicting feedback.

The mind changer

Sometimes, there will be clients who are serious about hiring but haven’t quite defined what they’re looking for. They’re not at fault, but this can take up a significant amount of your time speaking to the wrong candidates while they figure out what it is they need.

For example, some tech clients will say they want a senior full-stack engineer with Python experience on the back end and React experience on the front end and then change requirements midway to one back-end engineer, and one front-end engineer.

Or, they’ll be open to someone working remotely, but then change requirements to someone working from the office.

It’s important to work with clients who know exactly what they want in a candidate, you can be flexible but set boundaries as it will cost you a lot of time.

No wiggle room

You’ll come across clients who are stubborn and unwavering in their ways. Some clients have missed out on hiring the perfect candidate because they didn’t want to offer the $75k that the candidate was looking for and only wanted to pay them $74k or didn’t want to offer the perfect candidate with 10+ years of experience who aced all the tech tests a job in the end because he didn’t have a master’s degree.

There are some pretty ridiculous stories out there.

You can ask a couple of questions during an onboarding call to figure out if the client is the type you should avoid:

  • What are your non-negotiables?
  • Is there anything you’d give wiggle room to?
  • What type of personality do you want in your organization?

Although you can’t always tell off the get-go who’s going to end up being a bad client, the above clues should help you get a feel. Happy hunting!

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