Move or Miss Out

By Sharon L. Florentine (The Ladders.com)
Name: Kathleen Steffey
Title: President
Company: Naviga Recruiting & Executive Search, Tampa, Florida
Years as a Recruiter: 15

“It used to be an employers’ choice out there,” said recruiter Kathleen Steffey. “Clients had the upper hand and could take their time making sure they found perfect candidates, whether that meant keeping candidates ‘on hold’ for weeks or asking them to return for more and more interviews.”

That’s no longer the case. Candidates are finding they don’t have to tolerate employers’ “bad behavior” and often have a few opportunities from which to choose, said Steffey, president of Naviga Recruiting & Executive Search, a Tampa, Fla., executive-search firm that specializes in recruiting nationally for sales and marketing professionals. Some employers find it a hard pill to swallow.

It leaves executive recruiters in the unenviable position of pressuring clients to take their advice, which could alienate them from customers, or risk losing the candidate and the commission altogether.

“If a client’s not pulling the trigger on delivering an offer, or they’re keeping a candidate on hold for too long, that person is now able to jet out of there and find something else — they’re not as starved for opportunities as they once were,” she said. “And that’s a trend we find ourselves coaching our clients on.”

Doing so, of course, requires finesse and the ability to walk the fine line between being consultative and being pushy. Steffey instructs Naviga’s recruiters to err on the side of “consultative” and simply present clients with as much information as possible, allowing them to draw their own conclusions.

“First, I really stress that my recruiters find out from the candidate the exact level of interest in that particular company and position; to ask thorough questions to gauge what they’ll do if they get another offer,” she said. This vetting process helps Naviga recruiters find out if candidates would be willing to give a company a few extra days if it could mean getting an offer, “and that helps us — and helps our clients — to understand where their interest lies and where best to expend energy.”

“If we’re in the process of presenting candidates, the client may express particular interest in one person,” she said. “Over the past year or so, they’ve been able to say, ‘We need to interview a number of other people as well,’ and that’s not necessarily the best approach today.

“We make sure they know if the candidate has a number of other interviews scheduled and that they could very well accept an offer from another company.”

By presenting as much information as possible not just about the candidate but about that person’s prospects and other competing offers, Steffey said clients quickly understand that the market has changed and that “if they don’t make their move, they might end up missing out on a great hire.”

6 thoughts on “Move or Miss Out”

  1. I happen to believe that is not true.Stop putting Executive recruiters as knowledable.It is about bucks and not qualifications.After 25 years of dealing with them( I prefer not to use them) It is a meat market business.Insult the client and the prospect.

  2. I don’t believe you are addressing the problem of ageism.

    Many highly qualified candidates are passed over due to there age—of course that is never mentioned as the reason you don’t get the offer but common sense rules in certain cases (or when you get the truth from others close to the company)

    I find employers more selective than ever and the pond is so stuffed with fish they don’t even need a rod.

  3. Great advice, Kathleen!
    I, too, have observed my clients taking their time when hiring sales professionals and I have also found that the consultative approach helps them feel more confident with making a decision.
    Sometimes, with tire-kickers, it helps to put some science behind information you and they have gathered in the interview process. Profiling helps with this.
    I don’t usually “hard sell” when commenting on a post or article, but the product that my company sells, “Profile Sales Assessment” is an amazingly cost-effective tool to gather the data and facts needed to back up a decision to hire or pass.

  4. I was surprised to read Ms. Steffey’s comments. Was this interview done 3 years ago & sitting on a shelf? I’ve been ‘on vacation for the past 18 months courtesy of W’ and have found the job environment to be 180 degrees from Ms. Steffey’s description. Companies often have a 90-120 day window for acceting applications, then a 14-28 day window for review & the 1st round of interviews. Then another 14-28 days for the 2nd interview. Another 14 days for an offer & any negotiation…you’re looking at a minimum of 4+ months & often upwards of 6 months.
    Right now I’m excited just to get an interview…extactic when a 2nd interview is scheduled. Multiple offers or even talking to more than 1 company at a time is unheard of.
    The environment Ms. Steffey describes occurred during the dot com bubble but died along with it.
    If she can get me more than 1 offer in the next week please have her contact me asap.

  5. You go Kathleen,,,,making yourself quiet a name it appears. I like your Naviga website. Hope you are doing well

  6. I’m confident in saying that this is not the dot com bubble I’m referring to-I’m talking about the state of business now, compared to last year! Things have changed.. and clients are hiring.

    BG–don’t blame you for having this perception of recruiters.

    The perception/problem with recruiters is part of the reason I went into business in 2002 after being on the corporate recruiting leadership side for years. I would deal with the type of firms you’re describing, as they were my vendors.

    Most firms are solely focused on numbers and burn/churn in order to get that placement.

    Me (Naviga), however? Not the case.

    ;–) Good day!

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