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recent ERE survey showed that most employees gave their company’s recruiting department about a B- on average. Well, a B- might be a perfectly good grade on your multivariable calculus final exam, but for such an important part of a company’s growth, recruiting companies need to step up their game.

How do you go from merely good to great? There are two huge components that a recruiting firm can excel in to get a better grade: the speed of finding candidates, and the quality of the candidates. However, there is a third component that can elevate the firm in the eyes of the client: communication.

The Key to Client Communication

Effective communication with clients are often a big headache to most recruiting firms, but after speed and quality, it is arguably the most important aspect to providing great service to your clients.

The key to effective client communication boils down to one thing: managing expectations. If you order a package from Amazon with an estimated 2 week delivery, you’re going to be upset if it takes 4. Likewise, by being as accurate as possible when providing time estimates to your clients, you can manage their expectations to keep them happy.

Of course, to provide good estimates means you need to have good estimates. Here are three metrics that can help:

1. Know the average time-to-fill for the client

How long does it usually take to fill a job order for your client? Look at your last three months of placements and average out the length of their sales cycle. Breaking it down by stages (Internal Submission, Sendout, Interview) can be even more helpful when providing estimates. Knowing that the average interview phase takes 12 days can hugely inform your client of when it is likely to be filled.

2. Know how quickly different positions get filled

Do you know how long it takes to fill an admin role verses a senior role? While your clients might want every opening filled ASAP, you should consult your historical data to see how long each job order might actually take. Especially if this is a newer client, you can look at the time-to-fill of similar positions from your history to give an accurate assessment of how long they might be waiting as your team works the job.

3. How many candidates do they need to see?

Giving a client of sense of how much time they will be spending on interviewing candidates is another great way to communicate and manage expectations. Should they expect to hire after seeing three candidates or thirty? Knowing the ratio of interview to placement for your specific client means you can confidently illustrate that they should allow for X many weeks to interview Y many clients to ensure they find the right candidate. Knowing this ratio long in advance can help clients to properly allocate time and resources to a particular hunt.

Communicating with clients can be easy when you have the right estimates to manage expectations. Knowing your historical data can elevate your customer service and give you that A+ you’ve been looking for.

Samuel Clemens
Sam is founder and chief of product & marketing for InsightSquared. Previously, Sam was VP Product at HubSpot, VP Product at BzzAgent, and on the founding team at Elance.com. His background also includes venture capital with Greylock Partners, the Algorithms group at Amazon.com, and management consulting with Booz Allen Hamilton. Sam has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Applied Math from Yale. In his off time he dives shipwrecks in the New England area.
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