What if headhunters were to treat candidates like customers?

Tracy Short & Co treat candidates like clients.jpg

Candidates are often disappointed by the service they receive from the executive search and recruitment industry. And when service doesn't meet expectations, the complaints begin.

But does it really matter if a candidate is disappointed (after all there are plenty more fish in the sea)?

Well of course it does. After all, candidates aren’t just for Christmas!

Our clients don’t want candidates to have a bad service because that would reflect poorly on their brand. And we know that happy candidates can become valuable clients in the future.

So what’s happening?

I put it down to a rising trend in transactional recruitment.

Headhunters may blame the fact that they are working under more time pressure with high targets in a competitive market. But poor training, a lack of genuine relationship building and an inclination to think of people as a mere commodity, has driven a sales- rather than service-orientated approach.

Then there’s a misunderstanding about who the customer is…

In retail, for example, it’s clear that the customer is the person who makes a purchase. In executive search and recruitment there are two types of customers: the paying customer (the Client) and the non-paying customer (the Candidate).

So why not treat them both the same?

Call me old-fashioned (I dare you!) but in a service industry shouldn’t we aim to give all our customers the best possible service – both clients and candidates? Good customer service doesn’t cost anything either – it’s mainly about treating people properly and having integrity.

Here’s how customer-focused headhunters work with candidates:

  • They understand that recruitment comes with responsibility and treat their candidates with respect and dignity.

  • They have a consultative approach to candidates as well as clients.

  • When they meet a candidate they communicate next steps and manage expectations.

  • They appreciate that time and effort have been invested into the meetings attended and give their candidates feedback.

  • They keep their candidates ‘in the loop’ so the candidate knows that they haven't been forgotten.

  • They tell their candidates when they didn’t make the shortlist or that they weren't successful at interview stage. They know that this is professional behaviour and they want to avoid embarrassment in the future by ensuring proper closure and sign-off.


Tracy Short & Co offers executive career coaching, recruitment & talent services, and exclusive networking meet-ups.

Tracy has a unique approach to career success – a fresh alternative to traditional career coaching and executive headhunters.

Get in touch to find out how I can help you or your company.