The recruitment processes used to be much more transactional. Whilst repeatable processes, KPI-driven sourcing and fast-paced systems used to be at the heart of the industry, transactional approaches just don’t cut it anymore.
Instead, client management skills and building client relationships are becoming more and more important in modern recruitment, as agencies and independent professionals start to devote more time to developing personal connections with their clients to deliver more personalised recruitment solutions. This is an approach that we have been using for years and that we feel benefits both the client and the recruitment agency because of the efficiency and quality of the hires it leads to.
In this article, we share advice on why investing time in client relationships is so worthwhile for recruiters and offer tips for clients to get the most out of their recruitment relationships as well. We also highlight what we’ve learned about this approach from our time in the electronics and embedded systems industry and how this has influenced our unique and successful approach as an agency.
The Importance of Client Relationships in Recruitment
The relationship that recruiters have with their clients is one of the most important aspects of their job. Alongside being good at sourcing candidates, assisting with recruitment and selling themselves and their services, recruiters also need to develop and maintain relationships with all of their clients to retain their source of work and offer a more effective service.
This is important for several reasons.
The first is that successful recruitment is all about the quality of client and candidate relationships over the quantity of them. By taking the time to get to know your clients, properly understanding their businesses and requirements and building trust and effective communication, the quality of recruitment help you can offer will majorly improve.
Building client relationships also leads to a better understanding of their business; the workplace culture, their future goals and aspirations, their place in their industry sector and any specific skills or background that candidates require because of this. In turn, this leads to much better hires, as recruiters are able to put together a much more detailed brief about what the company is looking for and the kind of candidate that will thrive as part of the business.
When you’ve been working with a client for a while, and have built a strong professional relationship with them, you’ll also be much better equipped to deal with more nuanced recruitment requests. You’ll be better placed to work with a client to identify exactly what they need, whether this is a contract hire, a new role altogether or a more experienced candidate, and source candidates that you know will meet their specific requirements.
From a reputation perspective, it’s definitely worthwhile to focus on building and maintaining client relationships that are meaningful, as this tends to lead to much more effective recruitment and a better overall experience. Clients that have worked with a recruiter that they genuinely like and trust will be far more likely to recommend this recruiter to others, helping to grow your client base and publicise a positive image.
What are the Benefits for Clients?
Having successful professional client relationships benefits everyone involved. As a business working with a recruiter or a recruitment agency, you’ll get so much more out of the partnership if you approach it intending to build a professional relationship instead of paying an agency for its services.
One benefit of this approach is that you gain long-term recruitment support as your business grows. By investing in building a relationship with a recruitment agency, you know that you’ll have experts that you can rely on to find new team members, advise on the best way to expand your employee base, and also help you adapt your recruitment strategy based on changing trends.
Perhaps the biggest benefit for businesses is that the quality of recruitment you get with a trusted recruitment partner will be so much higher than that of an agency or professional who doesn’t know much about your company. When you’ve worked with a recruiter for a while that understands your specific requirements, knows the kind of person that flourishes in your business and has established an effective recruitment process with your team, the candidates they send your way are going to be better and the entire recruitment process will be much more efficient.
This efficiency that comes from strong client relationships also means that you get much better value for money. When a recruiter knows the specific kind of candidate a company is looking for, time doesn’t get wasted on having to screen and interview unsuitable candidates and new employees often settle in much faster as well, cutting both hiring and interview costs.
Finally, a benefit of building a relationship with a recruitment agency is that you will benefit from specialist recruitment support. Having worked with your business for a while, an agency will understand your previous hiring challenges and successes and be able to offer much more personalised solutions to any problems that crop up or big changes that need navigating, offering far more value than a recruitment agency that isn’t aware of your past.
What We’ve Learned from Our Approach to Recruitment
At KO2, we’ve been working as recruiters in the embedded systems and electronic engineering industry for over 20 years, which has taught us about the importance of client relationships and how recruiters need to offer a more personal approach. It’s no longer enough to simply get a job description from a client and go off to try and find a suitable candidate; we take the time to build meaningful connections with our clients so we understand their requirements perfectly.
When we are recruiting for our clients, we look at the skills a candidate has but also the culture of the company and whether this will be a good fit for their personality. Instead of simply trying to match what is on a job description, we operate as an extension of the client’s HR department and ensure we understand their workplace and existing workforce before we look for a new employee to join it.
Our niche has always been that we specialise in recruitment for embedded software and electronics roles, which has allowed us to gain exclusive knowledge of this industry sector and the work that takes place. We build more trusting relationships with our clients because we understand the technical specifications of their roles and can talk about what they need from a candidate’s background, as well as being aware of industry trends and changes that they may need to respond to.
The core of what we’ve learned about how to build relationships with clients is all about value. We value our relationships with clients and we can offer them more value because of the time we take to learn about their business and understand their position in the industry.
How to Build Strong Client Relationships
The keys to successful client relationships involve effort from everyone. Here’s our advice for both businesses and recruiters about how to get the most out of a partnership so that everyone is happy.
If you want a fruitful experience working with a recruitment agency, the best thing you can do is to establish your expectations from the beginning, and then continue to define these expectations for each role you’re hiring for. When a recruiter knows what you’re expecting from a professional relationship and what you’d like to get out of their recruitment services, they will be able to offer a much more personalised experience and you’ll both benefit from being on the same page about what is expected and delivered.
Be Specific About Roles
A recruiter can only find the right candidate for a role if you’ve told them the kinds of skills, experience and attributes that you think the ‘right’ candidate will have. Whilst there may be instances where this exact employee cannot be sourced, or the recruiter may suggest other candidates that they feel would be right for the role, this makes it much easier for sourcing to be more targeted and helps the overall recruitment process to be more effective.
Share Culture and Vision
One of the best things that a business can do to develop a successful recruitment partnership is to share details of its company culture and overall vision, including things like goals, growth plans and targets.
Letting a recruitment agency know about the key elements of your company culture will help them to find candidates that fit this culture as well as have the right skills and experience, leading to better quality and longer-lasting hires. By sharing details of your goals and vision, they’ll be able to offer a recruitment solution that develops alongside and compliments these goals, alongside gaining a better understanding of your company overall.
As a recruiter, one of the keys to successful client relationships is to think long-term with every partnership that you approach. This begins right at the start, when you may just be reaching out to potential clients to offer your services, where building a relationship and sustaining communication should always be more important than winning a client straight away.
Your relationship with clients should be viewed as an ongoing partnership that benefits from learning the most effective approaches and understanding exactly what the client wants from a recruitment agency. Whilst this strategy takes longer to come to fruition, you’ll end up reaping more benefits for longer.
Prioritise Regular Communication
Part of sustaining a successful client relationship is regular communication. If you want to stay on top of what’s happening in a company, what kinds of roles might need filling or what future plans for recruitment are, checking in with your clients every week is the best way to keep on top of their situation and also make them feel more supported. Speaking to a client regularly also helps you get to know them better, deepening your professional relationship.
Advise on Relevant Trends and Solutions
Part of how to build client relationships involves being able to offer uniquely valuable advice so that you’re seen as an essential part of a business’s recruitment and growth strategy. One of the best ways to do this is to keep on top of relevant trends and developments and advise your clients on these, demonstrating your insight and providing value they wouldn’t otherwise have had.
This also extends to keeping track of trends in their industry sector, if you don’t do this already as part of your agency’s wider strategy, so that you can offer more personalised insight and demonstrate relevant knowledge.
Offer Equal Help to Every Client
One important piece of advice for recruitment agencies is to avoid spreading yourself too thinly in one area and offer equal help to every client, depending on the services (and time) they’re paying for of course. Professional relationships take time and effort to develop, but you want to make sure that this effort is being applied everywhere so that you have equally satisfied clients and gain a reputation for going the extra mile with everyone you work with, not just trying hard with some companies but failing to deliver this for others.
A personalised approach to recruitment is always going to yield the best results, especially in today’s recruitment climate where many candidates are prioritising ‘culture fit’ over other aspects of the roles that they apply for. Managing client relationships long-term requires putting in the time to learn the specifics about each business and the kind of employees they’re looking for, and we’ve seen for ourselves how effective this can be from many of our successful client cases.
If you’re looking for a recruitment agency that will work as an extension of your business and take the time to learn exactly what you’re looking for, KO2 is a perfect choice. Find out more about the recruitment services we offer in the electronics and embedded systems sector, or get in touch to speak to our team directly about how we can help.