Candidates… or Clients… who’s more important?

candy11I posed this question on LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago, and sat back like a disinterested vegan at a butcher’s barbecue to watch the ensuing fallout go on… and on… and on.

At the time of this post being published there has been 26 likes, 28,889 views… but most importantly 106 comments.

That’s right… 106 people took the time to respond, based on their experience, views and prejudices.

Even more interesting is that I gave two options in the question… candidates… or clients, and there were four different responses?! Trust recruiters to complicate things! Please see below, my state of the art pie chart to illustrate the responses as a percentage.


Recruiters – Oh please! If you are so self absorbed to believe you are really the most important piece in the recruitment puzzle you are delusional, egotistical and just plain wrong. Yes… you create the magic… but what good is a conjuror’s show with no audience and no props? Simple facts are that people in our industry who believe they are more important than either the candidate or client don’t belong in our industry… It’s your belief in your own self-importance that drags us down as a group. Humility is often a forgotten trait in recruitment… I just reminded you… so please don’t forget again.

candy22Both – Ok, I get it… They are co-dependant… chicken and egg and all that. But I fail to see how anyone can’t make a call on this. A call based on their market… in their location… in their specialisation. Don’t forget the question is… who is more important? Not who is the only important… poor grammar I know… don’t judge me.

For those of you who are sat/sitting on the fence get off! The only possible outcome is splinters and the prospect of a nasty case of haemorrhoids. Make a decision that makes sense in the current market and develop a strategy around it. So to those people I ask again… Who is more important… Candidates… or Clients?

Candidates or Clients – Now we’re getting down to it. It’s quite simple really… ask yourself a couple of follow up questions.

  1. Are you a specialist and an expert?
  2. Is it harder in current conditions to source and engage candidates, or develop clients?
  3. Are you working primarily contingent, exclusive or retained?

By answering these questions you can drill down on how well you know your market & specialisation… where you should be focusing your energy… and how competitive or relationship driven your market is.

For example, if you are in a highly competitive market with an oversupply of candidates… like… say… you focus on Graduate Finance Roles you would answer Clients right? I mean you have access to candidates… the same candidates your competitors and clients can find. So your focus needs to be on developing and strengthening great client relationships…

On the other hand, if you were a ‘Big Data’ recruiter in the current market, candidates are King… and should be treated that way… you know… allow them to open parliament… sit in the royal box at Wimbledon… eat spitchcock and caviar for breakfast and all that…

What I guess I am saying is that there is no correct answer (unless you say recruiters or both… then you are wrong). The balance between the power and importance of client vs candidate shifts. And this shift is dependant on how well you know your market.

So, the smart people may have just skipped all the rambling above and jumped to the juicy summary below…

It’s simple supply vs demand. If demand exceeds supply your candidates are more important… if supply exceeds demand the importance lies with the client.

Know your market… read the trends and plan accordingly… The End.

Craig Watson


One thought on “Candidates… or Clients… who’s more important?

  1. Steve Craig on Reply

    No clients means no business … ergo no recruiters and no candidates. It’s a pretty simple equation I reckon. Anyone who says the candidate is more important has no “skin in the game”.

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