catching baseballRecently, I wrote an article called “What do you do when you finally get a job order?” where I argued that this critical question needs an answer if a third party recruiting firm or staffing agency is going to succeed.

I loved receiving feedback on the article, and I thank everyone who took the time to comment or to share their thoughts with me directly. However, the comments I received almost universally were followed with, “So, what DO you do when you get a finally get a job order?” It seems that readers of want more than a thought provoking question, they want answers!

Initially, I purposely avoided answering the question, because the answer will be unique to your niche, book of business and positioning in the marketplace. There are, however, three things that you must ask yourself when you “finally get a job order” that will help determine what you do next.

1)      Did you take a thorough job order? Seriously, did you? No, I know you think you did, but did you really? Did you qualify the job order as an “A” search? This is perhaps the most important question you can ask. Asking this question helps you determine if you have an “order” or if you have a “lead.” And how you treat an order is probably vastly different than how you treat a lead. It realistically takes a minimum of 20 minutes to take a full and complete job order. If your client is uncooperative in spending the appropriate amount of time with you, or otherwise has unrealistic expectations, you are better off prospecting for an “A” order during your prime marketing hours than you are matching and sourcing candidates to a cold lead. Remember, if you are going to be successful in this business, you need to be selfish with your time and by asking this questions, you are essentially asking, “Is it worth my time to give up my new business development activities in order to work on sourcing and matching candidates for this specific position?” Be honest with yourself. Many a young recruiter has failed out of the business because they spent too much time chasing every opportunity to place a purple squirrel that they could sniff out, and not enough time developing and fostering relationships with real clients with whom they could truly work with and partner. With that said, I’ve made a lot of placements over the years on cold leads. It’s just that the sourcing and matching is done in off hours, but that’s a story for another article…

2) What does your client expect? How did you sell your services? This really gets to the heart of why I don’t simply answer the question with simple “do this and then this.” It really depends on what your client values in your services. Essentially, the two answers to the questions of “what do you do when you finally get a job order” are either, drop everything and start to work the order (matching, sourcing, presenting candidates) or continue marketing/new business development and put together a plan of attack for working the order later. Both answers are equally valid, as long as you are honest about what your client expects. Many temporary staffing agencies position themselves based on the value of quick response and fast fills. They should probably put any new order up as an immediate priority. Other search firms present their services as valuable based on match and quality. Those firms might be better off continuing with new business development and formulating a plan to work the order once they complete their marketing plan for the day.

3) What is your business model? Do you work both the client and candidate side of a desk? Do you have someone who is dedicated to sourcing candidates? If you rely on a partner to fill orders while your primary goal is business development, then great, get your partner involved as early in the process as possible so that you can move on to prospecting for more business for her to fill. If you run both sides of the desk, consider the cost-benefit analysis of forgoing new business development to work on this order. In addition to some of the questions already laid out, you should ask: Is this truly fill-able? What is the relation of fee/gross margin to difficulty? Is this a volume account or key target account? How many other firms am I competing against? What is my client’s urgency?

Let’s face it… it’s hard to get a job order. So when you get one, you want to make sure you ask yourself the right questions so that you can respond in the most effective manner and give you the greatest odds of success. The next time you get a job order, before you jump up and down and celebrate, as yourself, 1) Do you I have a job or a lead? 2) What are my client’s expectations for filling this position? 3) How does my business model dictate I act next? If you answer these questions honestly and thoroughly, then I’m sure you’ll know what to do next.

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