Thursday, January 17, 2008

Recruiters: Finding the Decision Makers

Working with Decision Makers is crucial for Executive Recruiters. They can okay our fee without talking to anyone else. Also they will act quickly when it's time to make an offer. They are able to bend the rules to make a deal happen. If a candidate is not quite right they let us know why so we're able to get another candidate who is the right fit. I love the Decision Makers because they make the recruiting process efficient.

As with all my advice, this happens to be what works for me. If you have a different approach and it works for you that's great. Be creative and experiment. I prefer instant gratification and will take the easiest route to making a placement whenever possible.

I shoot for the highest level of management I can talk with when entering a new company. With a national or international company I try to understand their regional and local goals and then locate the key Decision Maker who is responsible for delivering results within that company. I stay away from HR departments.

Example: If I wanted to place a mechanical engineer into a firm I knew had about 150 employees I'd ask for the CEO. The CEO's secretary can be a wealth of knowledge and I'd build a relationship with that person. I speak with authority and expect cooperation from whoever I talk with and usually get it. The CEO may be the Decision Maker and if not will direct me to a department manager who has a hiring need. It's aways a plus to say, “Bob X asked me to talk with you.” It's an endorsement with implied approval.

If I wanted to place a candidate as a pharmaceutical sales rep I'd most likely call the division or regional manager in charge of sales. That person knows the corporate projections, goals, budget and trouble areas where they are falling behind expectations. If I can solve someone's problem I know there is a very good probability I'll get through to the right person.

For a few years I placed Loan Originators and supporting personnel, (Processors and Closers), in the mortgage industry. When I made a successful placement with a Branch Manager I would then call the Regional Manager after the candidate started work and started to perform well. Knowing I already had a good track record I would introduce myself an the Head Hunter who placed candidate X three months ago in their North Office, etc. and ask about their production goals. Getting a new job order was easy and allowing a Regional Manager to take the credit for exceeding their production goals guaranteed future searches.

I prefer to lead into a new search conversation by marketing a candidate I have on hand. When the employer shows an interest in interviewing that candidate, I advise the client that my business is to make sure they get the right person for the job and not the most available one. I ask them if I can first ask them about the ideal candidate to fill their open position to make sure my presentation candidate is the correct person to send them or if I need to send someone with slightly different credentials.

From there the depth and scope of my questions lets my client evaluate whether or not I know my job. My questions put them at ease and begin to establish trust that I am the Recruiter they need to solve their problem. My questions show I understand their problem and letting them do 90% of the talking about what they require and want in a candidate gets them excited that a solution is at hand. Before you know it we are two-thirds of the way through the job order and I'm ready to discuss the fee for this search.

If you are unsure that the person you're talking with IS the Decision Maker ask, “Who besides yourself has input into approving my fee?” or “Who besides yourself will decide if a candidate I send over will be hired?” or “Who besides yourself decides if an offfer will be extended to a candidate I present?”

Sometimes people want to elevate their authority. If you allow that to happen, when you do send over a great candidate that should be hired, there will be a delay in the offer because your contact is scrambling to get your fee approved by the real Decision Maker. This can blow a placement.

The goal is to make placements, fast. Make sure you're talking with the Decision Maker or you lesson the chance of a successful placement and are wasting YOUR time.

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