The Customer isn’t Always Right!

I frequently hear people say “the customer is always right.” That may be true in your line of work, but not in mine. In fact, many times I have to help my clients see what they seem to miss entirely. It is very often the case that my client fails to grasp the gravity of the situation. If I take the approach that my customer has all the right answers and I am merely here to feed their appetite for more candidates, then I am failing them as a search consultant. The smart ones get it, while others may think by challenging their perceptions of things, I am merely looking out for myself. Again, they would be wrong.

Search is a complex endeavor and if my client questions my motive then everyone’s problems are multiplied. Trust is the essence of any consultant-client relationship. If I have not established the credibility with my client such that I can challenge their views or opinions, then I need to re-think my approach. Clients are just people, and they all possess biases that inform their opinions about things from people to the way things should be. Sometimes they make assumptions about people who are factually inaccurate. It is the job of a Search Consultant to advocate on behalf of their client, even if it means disagreeing with them. Early in my career, I was afraid of disagreeing with my client. If my client expressed a concern about a candidate, I would instinctively and without hesitation agree with them. It was often after some thought and consideration that I would think, “that was wrong. I should have said, this or that.”

Many people are adverse to making big decisions so they subconsciously create obstacles, hoping to avoid costly hiring mistakes. One of the most common scenarios is that a client will say “the candidate didn’t seem energetic or interested enough.” or “I just didn’t see the fire in the belly!” This is most often the case of a mistaken assumption. There are stages to a truly passive candidate’s interest, and it starts with mere Curiosity. The first call/interview is actually purely a fact-finding mission and the burden is on the interviewer to capture their imagination. After this interview/exploratory conversation, the individual’s interest will either flat-line in which case they are not a fit, or it will begin to increase. Too often, the client assumes that because the candidate didn’t dazzle them in the first call, that represents a low energy level and intensity on the job. More often than not, they would again, be wrong.

To avoid this scenario, inform your client ahead of time about the level of motivation of the candidate. Is she actively seeking a new job? If so, she would be expected to sell herself. If not, then sell her. This is just one example of ways to help your client be right, before they get it wrong. If you can’t convince your client to see the value of your perspective, then you’d do well to find a new client.


Helping the Unemployed Secure Their Next Job

Admittedly, my blog was never meant to be a resource for job seekers. My focus is on the Executive Search space and recruiting. However, I am struck by what I often see as executives who seem lost in a quagmire while trying to find their next position. This is especially true when they have been let go for whatever reason. I find all too often that the individual loses their achievement drive and stop believing in themselves. They feel dependent upon a recruiter to help them find the next best thing. The longer that this process takes, the more disjointed the individual seems and more desperate they often become. My heart goes out to these folks as I have seen many of them struggle for several months in a strangely awkward place. They seem lost! Their confidence is shaken and it is as though they have forgotten who they are and what got them to where they are.

Once in a while I must exhibit some tough love to these folks. When I do, it usually looks something like this: “Listen my friend, you need to turn your search up side down and quit looking to others like me to be your answer. You are a successful executive who has managed to make your own success. You’ve got to dig deep to remember how you did it the first time and ignite that passion once again. You have to quit expecting another to advocate on your behalf. You must make your own success! Quit being passive and merely talking to recruiters and friends. Go outside your comfort zone and attack your job search with the intensity and vigor that you would if “finding a phenomenal job” WAS your job! Be your own consultant and advocate. Knock down the barriers in your job search just like you would if someone was paying you to do it. There is no better display of your passion and will to win. If you can’t do this on your own behalf, who else can?”

Sometimes, extreme times call for extreme measures. I don’t like being “that guy!” But, sometimes, I feel that it’s just what they need to hear in order to crank up their engine again and motivate them to snap out of it. If I’ve done this for you and it helped, great! If I’ve done it to you and it didn’t help, at least I tried. Godspeed!