Recruiters… low will you go?

how lowI tend not to get too bothered about most of those annoying things that are sent to challenge us recruiters. People turn down jobs. Clients make crazy decisions. Stuff happens. It is not that I don’t care…I just accept that there are some things that are out of my control and there is no point wasting emotion on them. I save that for shouting at the TV when my team is playing…because that definitely helps!

However, when a client tries to negotiate my fee at the end of a process and then tells me “I am standing in the way of him being able to offer my candidate a job because of my fee”…I get a little hot under the collar.

Let me get this right Mr Client. We agreed fees at the very start. You signed a document saying so. You happily met my candidates and never once mentioned the fee again. A few weeks later you now want to offer one of them..…but also want to negotiate / re-negotiate / take the piss. And you have the brass to tell me that if I can’t do something about the fee then it will be me standing in the way of this guy getting a job!

Where is his justification in doing this? Well, there isn’t any. But that is not his point. Mr Client thinks that he has me over a barrel. Surely I will see that some sort of fee is better than no fee. Add a little emotional blackmail on top of that and I will have no choice but to crumble and agree.

Most recruiters out there would have experienced something similar. And it raises a vital question for every recruitment business….especially at the moment.

At what point are you prepared to walk away and just say no?

When you have already done the work, it is tempting to rollover and just accept a reduced fee…something is better than nothing, right? Take the money and run. Even if you are dealing with a more honourable client who understands that negotiations happen at the start, dropping a percent here or there to get the gig is tempting. When your competitors are dropping their pants at any opportunity just to work with a client, you might feel you need to do the same to keep in the game. In a competitive market place these things might be tempting…but then so is that last drink on a big night out….and that rarely ends up well.

It makes little long-term commercial sense to keep lowering your fees. In my experience, once you start doing this then it is a slippery slope. You open yourself up to more of it in the future and it is hard to build a credible reputation. But the main reason I say no is not a commercial one. I say no because some things are just not worth it. If you are the sort of turkey that has the brass to say I am standing in the way of a guy getting a job because you won’t pay the agreed fee, then you don’t deserve my hard work or the awesome candidate I found you. And I don’t want to go home at night and have to scrub myself with pumice stone to feel clean again.

To complete the story, I called the candidate, explained that my client wanted to offer him the role but didn’t think he was really worth the $867.00 that he was trying to knock off the fee. Suitably unimpressed, he called the client to pull out of the process. “If you don’t think I am worth $867.00 then you are not the right employer for me”. That was nice!

A lot of people who use recruitment agencies see it as a buyers market at the moment. DIY solutions like LinkedIn, internal recruitment teams and other pressures mean that clients potentially have more power at the negotiating table than ever before. How much depends on how much you let them have.

So, do you have a line in the sand that you just simply refuse to cross?

Luke Collard


6 thoughts on “Recruiters… low will you go?

  1. Mel on Reply

    Great blog/vent 🙂 Good recruiters are worth every single cent of the fee charged, luckily good clients usually realise that, this one though sounds like one that should be sacked.

  2. Socrates on Reply

    I suppose I’m fortunate that this has never happened to me, although clients have often negotiated at the START of the process. I think if ever a client tried this, I’d be trying to find out why – if he’s in business himself, he wouldn’t like it being done to him. Surely he must understand that in the long run, he will end up with no suppliers and no customers if he consistently does this. It’s a matter of basic trust between individuals. You have to honour your agreements.

    On the other hand, maybe something has happened, perhaps he’s being pressured by his boss, or perhaps the business is under a financial cloud. If he came clean to me about this, I might be tempted to try to work something out.

  3. Michael Knight on Reply

    From your latest update, I have two clients this year state from the beginning that they can only afford xyz, They have been both reasonable amounts – not great, but worthy to work on.
    I have found if you are able to get this type of response true client , recruiter relationships are forged.

  4. Mitch Sullivan on Reply

    If you work as a contingency recruiter, strong client/recruiter relationships are rarer than rocking horse shit.

    All this kind of stuff is par for the course. You’re in the trading business.

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