#FearlessRecruitment – Telling a client/stakeholder “No!” can you, will you do it?

This is one of the biggest lessons I had to learn in life.

It really sucks, you know it isn’t what they want to hear, you can tell them yes and put off the inevitable, or you can just tell them no.  I know many people that go for the middle option, faking it until they (hopefully) make it, it’s the consultants creed right? It’s scary to say no to a client, you need to be fearless and do your job!

This is where common sense needs to come in… the simple fact is that as the Recruiter you have to Manage expectations on all sides. You need to live up to the “Consultant” part of your title and actually “CONSULT!”.  I had a boss once who asked me “Dan, why do you always argue with me?” “You know you aren’t going to win!”  He was quite surprised when I told him that I didn’t care if I won or lost.  It was my job to let him know about the risks he was taking with the decisions he was making.  I wasn’t making the decisions, that was his problem.

Another conversation “Dan! The GFC is on, why can’t you hire me 100 people by the end of the month, there are people being laid off everywhere!” – that was a tough conversation, but manage expectations we needed to do.  Our process only allowed a small percentage through the process, whilst we could ramp up the volume in the process, the change would not be that great.  Quantity versus Quality was my main argument there.  He begrudgingly agreed to that one.

It will work in your favour, your credibility will go up if you have the strength and conviction to tell people as it is (I am a big advocate of tact though).

Once upon a time (a long long time ago)….. in a land not that very far away……I was a young Consultant in my first ever gig, I joined a team of 5 looking after one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) IT Contracts in the country at the time. This was going to be the land of milk and honey. Everyone will blow budgets away, it was a coup for my company to get on the panel.. We had over 200 open reqs a any one time across Contract and Permanent roles, life was flat out, life was fun… success will bring that. However, one day I get into the office to find out that all 4 of my other team members (incl leaders etc) had resigned, leaving me holding the baby as it were. (insert first ever stress freakout here)

I knew the account, I knew the people… but it was just me… 23 years old running the largest account the company had. This surprisingly raised a number of eye brows with the client. The words “We are your largest account… why do you have some kid running it? Aren’t we important enough to warrant someone of experience and standing” (Yes I was in the room) We were part of a competitive panel of 7 agencies, all getting the same work, we were now ranked in the lower half.

This is where I learnt something. Of those hundreds of requirements, the client didn’t expect us to fill every single one. However the expected us to report to them what they wanted reported and the wanted constant feedback. They needed feedback, good or bad, for the closing date of every requisition (They were managing expectations internally too!). I made a decision there and then. I was going to focus on delivering on our expectations, even if it meant that I would call the procurement or HR people and say I had no one for that role, and it looks unlikely that there would be. I was amazed at the kudos that bought me, within 6 months we became the number one supplier. All because, (I believe) we listened to what they wanted, we delivered on personal undertakings and built strong one on one relationships and worked those relationships to expand our knowledge and inside client knowledge.

My point? Deliver on what you say you will, (don’t under promise – over deliver) you will gain respect from clients and candidate alike…. and that is what we are after in this industry. Therefore, set realistic expectations, say “NO” if you need to, in a timely manner. This business we are in, whilst challenging, is not Rocket science. I’ve been fearless in this way ever since. Are you?