CWS 3.0: May 9, 2012


Be the “A” Client to Get Suppliers’ Fullest Attention

The pendulum has swung once again to the candidate side, leading to fierce competition to attract, hire and retain top talent. Therefore, it has become more critical that clients not only align themselves with the right suppliers, but do all they can to motivate them to work hardest on their behalf.

Here’s how it works. Like you, your suppliers have lots of choices where to do business, too.

Because quality recruiting is labor intensive, they put their valuable time and effort where their return on investment is highest, taking into consideration how important you (as client) are to them, the fill ratio and revenue potential. This often translates into sending their “A” candidates to their “A” clients, leaving B and C candidates for the rest.

As a client, how do you know what group you’re in? You’ll know you’re getting the B and C candidates if:

  • Your positions remain unfilled for a long time.
  • You receive lots of inappropriate resumes, or perhaps few resumes at all.
  • Too many of your interviews are with weak candidates.
  • A lot of offers you extend to candidates are rejected.
  • You experience a high rate of terminations and resignations.
  • You receive minimal supplier support for handling problems and issues.
  • As a result, many of your managers are frustrated and try working outside your system.

So how can you increase your supplier performance and improve these results?

Many suppliers hold a meeting every morning to prioritize their daily workload. In our case, we call it “Reveille” — a 15 minute, stand-up meeting to set the day’s focus. Contrary to what clients think, it’s not based upon where we make the highest fee, but rather where we can maximize our ROI. Not surprisingly, this tends to be where our fill ratio is highest.

Here are the key factors that suppliers look at when qualifying and prioritizing client openings:

  • How prompt and responsive is the client to our individualized questions, submissions, feedback?
  • How clearly defined is the requirement and is it appropriately detailed?
  • How realistic is the requirement in terms of the supply of available labor?
  • How realistic and competitive is the budgeted billing and pay rate?
  • How many other suppliers are we competing with (or do we need to win the lottery to make a placement)?
  • How long has the position been open (too long and either the client lacks the sense of urgency or it’s impossible to fill)?
  • How successful is our prior history with the client and how positive and respectful is our relationship?
  • How well-received will the client’s reputation be with prospective candidates?
  • And finally in consideration of the above, WIIFM (what’s in it for me) — how attractive is the placement fee and terms of our agreement?

Figuring all this out may sound like a jury deliberation, but it’s actually quite simple.  Experienced, commissioned recruiters and salespeople quickly know which clients and requirements will yield the highest fill ratios. This is where they devote their “A” recruiting efforts.

To ensure your company is an “A” client with your suppliers and that they are working hardest on your openings, make sure your suppliers can favorably answer these questions and rank you highest when they each have their morning reveilles.

Gary Zander is president and CEO of Project One, an IT consulting company based in New York City. He can be reached at


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