Is there such a thing as an ideal client?

By Mark Senior – Henley Research International

Is there such a thing? To put this in context most of our clients are pretty good and some are excellent.  And we’re not about to start a beauty parade for fear of upsetting someone… Recent discussions here resulted in five key components which invariably characterise our very best clients:

1 A great briefing – not just a Job Description and a few pointers but a face-to-face or telephone conversation that truly brings the search and the role to life. Why is the role vacant? What is the culture like, what sort of people work there? What is the search territory – sector, geography, company size, ownership profile and so on? What are the candidate ‘need to haves’, ‘nice to haves’ and disqualifying characteristics?  A good briefing not only ensures there is a clear understanding of the job in hand, but can also be highly motivational in ensuring the researcher feels real ownership of the success of the search.
2 Realistic candidate expectation – it’s important that both the client and the researcher(s) buy in to the anticipated deliverables for a search. Every search is different and a combination of factors determine how many “great fit” candidates will result. For the most attractive roles (great company, great location, great prospects, package etc) we may be able quite efficiently to get up to say 20 great candidates.  For other roles that figure may be fewer than three. The key issue is that client and researcher(s) are aligned in their thinking, otherwise disappointment will result.
3 Sensible timelines – we’ll move as fast as we possibly can, but we need to agree sensible, achievable timelines. Whilst name identification can generally be done within a few days, it is the process of approaching candidates and having dialogue with them that invariably takes a little time. A client intent on unrealistically short deadlines will miss out on some of the most talented candidates.
4 Prompt, clear feedback – even with realistic timelines, time is almost always of the essence and therefore our best clients are those who constantly provide early, constructive feedback. This is most important when we submit candidates to them – it ensures we are on message (or perhaps need to adjust slightly) as we continue the search, but also (critically) means we can get quickly back to a candidate and let them know the next stage.
5 Outcome communication – and finally, a good client will always let us know the results of a search, whether the role was filled and whether we found the successful candidate.  After all the effort we put in, it makes such a difference to know the outcome.

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