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Six top tips for great relationship management

Relationship Management

We talk a lot in recruitment about how we treat our candidates and clients and how we ensure that their needs are met. To be honest, this goes far beyond recruitment, it permeates into every facet of the business world and beyond.

As an Affiliate Account Manager at APSCo, managing relationships forms the majority of what I do. I am sure, for many of you, the same applies. Despite only starting this role in August, I’ve known some of my clients for many years from my previous experience within the recruitment sector which has undoubtedly helped me when building relationships. It’s helped me to remember that long-term relationships are not created overnight. One vacancy does not build a relationship it is just the start.

In my role, the c130 clients I work with all have multiple opportunities to get involved with what we do. In your case, this could be a few vacancies for the right candidate or several businesses you’d like to talk to about that candidate. Talking through the many different options can lead to lots of questions and sometimes high expectations. The candidate may believe that they have lots of positions to choose from or the client may want to interview seven or more candidates. So how can you manage that relationship to ensure that both parties benefit?

  • Listen to understand – not to respond: Rather than going in with a set idea (I’ve got this job you are going to be perfect for) take your time to listen and understand what they want. Understanding what your candidate/client wants, why, and the impact this will have on their life or business is crucial.
  • Explain the process: I explain my role, what I do and how we will work together. Don’t assume everyone knows what you will be doing.
  • Set realistic expectations: Know what you can and can’t do. If I have a client wanting the world on a stick, knowing how to say that they can’t have it in an assertive but friendly way is important. Explaining what they can have and when that is likely to happen helps them to understand the relationship and sets the right expectations offering moving forward. At the same time, being able to offer some reasoning and an alternative is also a good idea. If you don’t know, say you don’t know. There is nothing worse than being told you can do something only to be informed a few days/weeks later that you can’t.
  • Stick to your word: If you say you are going to call someone at a particular time then make sure it happens. It’s very simple to do what you say you are going to do, but this is something which seems very difficult in the recruitment world, mainly because we are all very busy. There is always another vacancy or another candidate to be working on, and this always seems to be urgent. Calling a candidate to tell them you have no news doesn’t seem like a priority but should be! Imagine waiting a week longer than you expected to hear back about your dream job! I would argue that whatever the outcome, without contact, the candidate will not feel supported throughout the journey.
  • Be organised: My administration isn’t great! I know I tend to rush to get the job done so that I can get onto the next thing, I have to consciously slow myself down. I am sure a lot of the consultants and managers in your recruitment business are the same. There is only one way for me to do this. Being organised. It goes against my natural inclination, but I know if I don’t have everything in order, I won’t be providing the service my clients have come to expect. Providing the best possible service is something I pride myself on, so this goes hand in hand. So, whether it’s setting follow-up calls, diary reminders, post-it notes, sending yourself emails, to-do lists, spreadsheets – whatever works for you then find it and stick to it! It has taken me a long time to get to the point of being organised.
  • Harness Tech: If you are running a recruitment business where the admin is an issue there is so much technology out there to help your consultants. There are systems which automatically log calls onto the CRM and set reminders, those which automatically format CVs and send terms, systems that automatically send through reference checks, so your consultants don’t have to be administrators. I wish I had some of this technology when I was a recruitment consultant!

Ultimately recruitment is a people business – and people buy from people. Get your relationship management right, and you won’t go far wrong!

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