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Being able to determine the quality of a search assignment before you "work it" is more critical today than any time in the past decade. Since there's more competition for fewer search assignments, you might think the opposite: "I've got an assignment. Quality isn't as important." Not true. As many of us have learned the hard way, time is our most precious resource. Determining quality up front equates to increased earnings in a good market.
What if you were to take on a search assignment that wasn't a quality one? You could spend weeks, even months, before finding out that: 1) the position was put on hold; 2) an internal candidate filled the job; 3) the company found the choice candidate through another source; 4) you're really looking for a "needle in a haystack"; 5) the company isn't financially stable and can't pay your fee; and/or 6) another reason spent your valuable time, which could have been used to work better assignments.
To identify the quality of a new search assignment,
1. Ask the Right Questions up Front
Great. You've developed new business. Now it's time to take a search assignment. Before you begin with learning the position details, think "WIIFIM" (pronounced "wiff-em"): Ask the "What's-In-It-For-Me" questions to determine the quality of the assignment. Here are the most important questions to ask your client first:
The thinking behind the WIIFIM questions is to learn: 1) the true desire to hire, 2) the timing to hire, 3) your potential competition, 4) the client's "selectivity," 5) where the client is in the hiring process and 6) the priority qualities the client is seeking in the right candidate. The answers to WIIFIM questions will greatly assist in resolving whether you have a workable assignment.
2. Monitor Progress Closely in the Beginning
OK. It looks as though you have a fillable search assignment. Continue to watch how the hiring manager responds to you in the initial stages of your working together. Try the following:
Responses from your new client are telling signs of the need to hire and the speed to hire. The client's actions will give you a strong indication of the priority to fill the position as well as what you may expect going forward throughout the hiring process.
3. Consider How You Obtained the Assignment
In addition to the first two points, think about how you originally obtained the search assignment. Is it from a past client, a current client or a new client? This will correlate with whether you have a quality, workable assignment.
Are you working with the hiring manager or human resources? Search consultants usually prefer working directly with the hiring authority.
Determining the quality of a search assignment as quickly as possible is critical to ensuring you will be using your time wisely. Once the client is engaged and shows interest in working with you, ask WIIFM questions up front. Then monitor progress carefully to see how the hiring manager responds to working with you. Also consider how you obtained the search assignment in the first place. Is the open position public knowledge? In the end, if most of these parameters don't fall in line, you may want to cut your losses and go on to the next assignment. It's much more efficient to spend your time developing new quality search assignments than spinning your wheels on sub-par, lower-quality ones.
Mike Ramer, CPC, is a national trainer for the search industry. For more information, please visit The Ramer Group.i.
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