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Recruiter Tips: Positioning Exclusivity to Candidates

Positioning Exclusivity to Candidates
Every now and then you find a rockstar candidate sitting across from you during an interview. You know they’re top notch. They’ve provided some really thorough responses during your ‘grilling’ and overall they’re just damn impressive.

Far too often what happens though, is that the interview ends, pleasantries are exchanged, hands are shaken, the obligatory promises to keep in contact are made, and your awesome candidate walks out the door … quite possibly straight to a meeting with another recruiter – perhaps even your direct competitor.

If a candidate impresses you that much, you just can’t afford to let them slip away so easily.

As recruiters, we are trained from early in our careers about the power of ‘selling’ exclusivity to our clients – about the importance of having customers who will only brief us on a particular role, or at least give us a few weeks’ head start before they will brief another recruiter on the same opportunity.

So what about exclusivity on the other side of ‘the equation’?

Trust me – there’s just as much ‘power’ having an A-grade candidate who only wants to be represented by you, or who is willing to at least give you a few weeks’ head start before they will meet with any other recruiters during their job search.

The ability to work exclusively with a candidate can make all the difference to your chances of getting them in front of your clients … and ultimately placing them!

This exclusivity needs to be secured during the initial interview.

Unfortunately “Hi … I interviewed you a few days ago. I think you’re a great candidate so is there any possibility that I could ask you not to send your details to any other recruiters for a few weeks?” won’t cut it!

Oh … and in case you’re wondering … there’s an art to gaining commitment from a candidate to work with you exclusively.

I used to refer to it as my ‘script’ (you’ll soon see why), and I’m happy to share this script with you. It definitely worked for me. So hopefully it can work for you too!

Specialisation

If you expect a candidate to work with you exclusively, then it’s up to you to let them know that you’re a specialist recruiter in their space. It’s all about trust and credibility so you must be able to demonstrate that you appreciate where they’ve come from in their career and that you understand exactly where they want to go.

Career partner

You also need to make it clear that you don’t just want to help them get a job. You want to be their career partner. You’re not just out to put a bum on a seat and make a fee. They need to understand that you genuinely want to help them with their next career move, but that you also want to help them with any future career moves they decide to make. Again it’s about establishing trust and credibility.

Reputation

Nobody is going to agree to work with you exclusively unless you can demonstrate previous results in successfully placing candidates of a similar calibre into a similar role to the one they’re after. Have your facts ready and be ready to rattle them off. Recruiters afraid to blow their own trumpet? Never! Remember it’s not about you being impressed by them. At this point in time it’s about your rockstar candidate being impressed by you and your success rate.

Insights

This ties in with ‘specialisation’ outlined above. You not only need to know your facts about the recruitment industry (what’s the market really like right now?). Naturally you also need to know about their industry (after all you’ve claimed to be a specialist). What are the trends in SEO right now? What’s the engineering market like? What’s happening in the legal sector? What has the impact been from the recent changes in local HR or financial services legislation? I’m sure you get my drift.

Process

If you’re going to position exclusivity, then your candidate is going to expect to know exactly what they’re going to get in return. Whilst you would never guarantee that you’ll be able to place them, you must be able to clearly and confidently talk through your process. Let the candidate know how often you would contact them to keep them updated. This is where you could suggest a period of exclusivity of say 3 or 4 weeks.

Target clients

Ask the candidate what companies they would ideally like to work for? During the interview make a list of the target clients that you will commit to speaking to. Again you can’t ever guarantee you’ll get them an interview. But they will be able to quickly tell how genuine you’re commitment is to at least representing them to their employers of choice.

True story: Whenever I used to meet an A-grade candidate, if they didn’t have to rush back to work, I would pop back to my desk and actually start calling some of the companies on their target list while they were still in the meeting room!

Credibility? Tick! Exclusivity? Definitely!

So there’s your S.C.R.I.P.T … I hope it helps you gain a head start when you next come across that needle in the haystack.

Paul Slezak

Cofounder at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for 20 years. Follow me @paul_slezak.

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