The 6 Critical Warning Signs That Shout Out You’ll Never Fill This Job Order!


The recruitment sector is changing. According to the latest data, there are over 40,000 recruitment companies now registered at companies house in the UK.

Many of these started life recently as sole traders. This could even be one of your big billers that left and set up on their own!

As a consequence of this, many recruiters are feeling the pressure and agree to takes job orders which they really shouldn’t.

It’s no wonder then that the majority of companies fill less than 50% of their vacancies. I understand that sometimes it’s easy to think, ‘just this one’, or ‘I am sure I have seen a few people on the database who could fit this’.


This is one of the key reasons why recruiters struggle in the contingency space.

With underperformers, they often spend too much of their time on activities and jobs that don’t get results. As a recruitment manager, if you can train consultants in looking out for warning signals to decide if this client is worth working with, then you will save days and days of wasted effort.

So, today I want to give you a few lightbulbs which will hopefully point you and your recruiters in the right direction about which roles to say no to; so you then know when to say yes.

Katy and I have a combined experience of well over forty years in the sector and know all the signs of jobs to avoid. We have honed it down to 6 classic red flags you must avoid.

1)     The client has been recruiting for the position for three months or more.

This is an immediate red flag. It means that either: the client cannot decide on the position, the position keeps changing or there aren’t suitable candidates for what they are looking for.

The word Unicorn often springs to mind here!

The chances of a consultant being able to fill a position like this are slim. It would be better for them to discard that job and work on something that is shorter term.

2)     If more than six people have been to second interview stage and the client has still not hired.

Alarm bells should be ringing if you uncover this fact. This is a red flag because it shows that the client is unlikely to make a decision, regardless of how many qualified candidates you send. If after seeing that many people, they still can’t make a decision, then it is unlikely that they ever will.

3)     The client is not planning to hire anyone in the next four weeks.

This typically indicates that the client won’t make a decision soon. Rather, spend the next four weeks working with clients who are hiring now. In our experience, four weeks move to six and then eight, and before you know it, this role has moved into the next quarter.

4)     Does the client have more than one agency working on the job?

 If this is the case, the consultant should discard the job and focus efforts on jobs where they are the only consultant working on the role. This increases their chances of success. You don’t want to be competing against other consultants for the same jobs. It turns into a ‘scrap’ and doesn’t serve either the client or you.

5)     Any job that doesn’t have a job brief or date to fill.

Once again, the likelihood of a client hiring when the job brief is not very clear is slim. Instead, work on jobs where there is a complete and detailed brief, and the role needs to be filled by a specific date. The urgency is critical; otherwise, this client becomes the nightmare client who doest answer emails or phone calls; which leads me onto the final point…..

6)     Any job where the client does not get back to them.

In other words, if there is no feedback after putting forward candidates or trying to set up interviews, then this is an indication that the client is not serious about filling the job. There is a clue in our name; we are recruitment consultants, lack of communication is also a sign of lack of respect, which indicates less than a great experience for all concerned.

When consultants are aware of these six red flags, they can avoid working dead-end jobs and spend their time being more productive. They can find and work assignments that have a higher chance of delivering results, too, which means more consistent placements and revenues for your organisation.

Warm regards

Nicky Coffin

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