Tips for Clients

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Tip to Clients: Introduce Prospective Candidates to Office Culture

Happy New Year to all of our amazing clients! We look forward to our partnerships in the New Year as there will be many talented candidates looking for the next step in their careers. It is truly an exciting time!

Clients play a really important role in garnering candidate interest in their agencies/companies and roles at hand. They can often make or break an interview situation as they play an essential role in representing their agencies/companies and positions in the most positive and favorable light. In my dealings with candidates, I have realized that culture, environment, and vibe is very important to them as they explore new opportunities. It is not just the roles and responsibilities of the job that they take into careful consideration but the essence and vibe of the office.

Often times candidates love the client(s) with whom they meet but are hesitant about an agency/company even after multiple interviews as they have not gotten a true sense of the agency/company environment. Interviews tend to be held in conference rooms or offices—behind closed doors- where it is basically impossible to get a sense of the vibe of the office… candidates wonder what a typical day is like at the agency/company…. Is it chaotic or calm? Do employees communicate via email or in person? Is it a casual or more corporate environment? These are intangibles that make a huge difference as candidates decide whether or not an opportunity is right for them.

That being said, if a client is really interested in a candidate, they should go beyond the standard conference room interview and make the effort to show the candidate the agency/company culture. This can be done in the following ways–

1)      Give candidates an office tour. A client can certainly save this step for a second or third interview as it does take time to show someone around, but it is a great way for candidates to see how the office runs and feels on a typical day.

2)      Take the time to describe the agency/company culture during the interview. What sets the agency/company apart from others? Is it a more fun loving or serious environment? What is the quality of life? By doing so, clients will also be able to avoid hiring candidates who do not fit into their agency/company on this level

3)      Clients should also get a sense of the candidate beyond the resume by asking questions about personality in order to see if there is a fit beyond skillset. By asking these questions, the candidate will also gather a lot of information about the agency/company culture

I truly think this is critical advice for clients. Just as clients review a candidate’s total package, the candidates do the same—and candidates want to really get a sense of where they will be hanging their hats for the next period in their careers.

New Year…..New Job!

Happy New Year to everyone! The Melanie Andersen Agency is very excited for a new year as this means a fresh start and a new outlook on the job hunting front. The start of the new year is always a really great time to reflect on the previous year’s happenings from both a career and personal perspective. What were you proud of last year? What excited you? Are you ready to make a career move and, if so, what is your ideal next step? A new year is a wonderful way to wipe the slate clean and start over as well as learn from the previous year’s ups, downs, twists, and turns.

Despite our country’s overall economic issues, 2012 was an extremely active job market. The Melanie Andersen Agency was briefed on new roles constantly on both the marketing, advertising, and PR front and the range of functions and level of experience was very diverse. We anticipate 2013 being an even more active market and are so excited to work with existing and new clients and candidates on new opportunities.

The Melanie Andersen Agency is not a typical recruitment firm. We take great pride in truly partnering with both clients and candidates to ensure a perfect, long-term career match based upon skillset and personality. In 2012, we increased our candidate pool greatly and made strong connections with A LOT of talented candidates. We anticipate being able to help a majority of them find great new agencies/companies/positions in this new year. On the client front, we made great ties with new clients (a handful of innovative start up digital agencies, for example) and maintained relationships with clients who are very dear to our heart (you know who you are!!).

So….. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2013!!! Here is to a great 2013 filled with happiness, success and an exciting job exploration with the end result being an incredible new career opportunity.

Interview Scheduling Etiquette for Candidates

Throughout the interview process (which often entails multiple rounds) there is a lot of back and forth between recruiter and candidate in order to schedule candidate interviews with the client. There are often cancellations on both the client and candidate end and the hope is they are not last minute (ill save that for another blog!!). Here is an example of improper interview scheduling etiquette on the part of a candidate.

One of our clients provided availability to offer up to the candidate for a third round interview. During this particular interview, the candidate was supposed to meet the President of the agency. It should be a given that senior members of the agency have quite limited avails and their time is very valuable and should be treated as such— especially by a prospective employee. The client offered these avails and the candidate took days to reply. The President had been holding this time slot for him and was informed last minute that he could free it up because the candidate could not commit.

This really looks bad on the part of the candidate. It comes across as flighty and disrespectful and sends a signal of disinterest and lack of commitment or care. Even if the candidate is very busy during the day with his or her current job obligations, replying to emails regarding client interviews is extremely important and should be made somewhat of a priorty as it affects other people’s schedules and can also affect impressions in a major way.

If a candidate has chosen to explore an opportunity, timely replies regarding scheduling interviews for new opportunities is expected.

Why Clients Should Always Keep Recruiters Informed of Changes to a Role

I love our clients and absolutely enjoy working with each of them as they are all very different in terms of culture, approach, and needs. I have learned that communication between recruiter and client is extremely important, especially as it pertains to the particular role on which the recruiter is actively working. Miscommunication or lack of communication can be detrimental to the process of finding a great candidate for the role. Here is a good example–

I was briefed on a particular role by an agency and the position entailed managing three particular brands. The brands were awesome and a major reason why so many candidates expressed interest. While I always stress that candidates should join an agency for the agency and not a particular account, the account does matter– especially when garnering candidate interest in a position and for initial discussions between client and candidate. Accounts being managed become even more important to seasoned candidates who are more focused in terms of category expertise.

In this particular case, there was a handful of candidates very excited for the interview with this agency as the accounts were quite appealing and in line with their interests. However, during the interview, the client switched gears and discussed entirely different accounts which accounts which were night and day from the ones mentioned in the initial brief. The result was confused and disappointed candidates who also felt they had been misled by me and were caught off guard during the interview.

As a recruiter in a fast paced and quick changing industry, I realize that staffing needs can evolve and change from one moment to the next- and that’s ok. However, clients should take the time to inform their recruiters of any changes to a brief so recruiters can update the candidates and also shift gears in terms of the search pool if necessary. Again we do stress that accounts can come and go so candidates should pursue an agency for all its offerings and not one of its brands, but the reality is that accounts are very important to candidates also.

This is one strong example to prove my point but the overall lesson is that open communication between client and recruiter is extremely important and can only help to improve and streamline process.

Clients: Do Not Scare Off Candidates

I get briefed almost daily on new roles by clients who are eager to find unique talent who can fit in at their agency from a skillset and cultural perspective. One would think that clients would put their most positive and enthusiastic faces forward when interviewing potential candidates for a role. Surprisingly, this is not always the case—I know—isn’t that hard to believe?!

Clients should not candy coat an agency to the point of lying. It is important to be transparent with candidates about agency challenges and cons so the candidate does not walk into a situation that was falsely represented on their first day of work. That being said, transparency is one thing but a full on warning and complete negativity is another. Clients need to be very careful to not let their bad days, awful client meetings, rejected creative ideas, or any other “bad” situation affect the way they represent the agency to a candidate during an interview. Clients should represent their agencies in the best light, balancing honesty with a really solid and positive pitch for the agency culture and role itself. Of course some clients have more passionate and creative personalities but they need to be sure to temper them when interviewing candidates.

It makes it very difficult as a recruiter to work on roles for clients who do not “drink the kool-aid” of their own agencies. It is also unfair to candidates as they walk away feeling dejected and doubtful when a client makes the interview more of a warning than an invite.

Improper Client Etiquette During an Interview

While we always stress candidate etiquette throughout the interview process, it is also very important to stress client etiquette. Interviews are truly a two way street– of course the client is assessing the candidate from a skillset and personality perspective, but a candidate is also making assessments of the agency or company, the role itself, and the overall vibe in the room. For this reason, it is of utmost importance that a client also makes a very good impression on the candidate.

This morning a very good candidate went on an interview with a great new client, and I was truly hoping they would click. Unfortunately, the candidate called me and said the client was totally distracted throughout the interview– no eye contact, on her laptop the entire time, and barely any question asking… This was a complete turn off to the candidate who felt like the interview was really a waste of time– and her schedule is too busy for a time wasting meeting.

This is a perfect example of how a client can lose a great candidate at first contact. It is very important for a client to give full attention to a candidate during an interview and to show interest so as not to make the candidate feel as if the meeting was pointless. Even if the client is having the busiest day of the year, it doesn’t matter.

This might seem like interview 101 but this error is quite common among clients and should be corrected so great candidates do not walk away with a bad taste in the mouth and choose to withdraw from the process.

A Breath of Fresh Air

I had a great morning today… Not only because Melanie and I made a wonderful match between a great candidate and client but because both were so easy and nice to work with! Both had a clear idea of what they wanted throughout the process and they were honest and forthright from the start. It obviously feels very fulfilling as a recruiter to “fill a role” but when it goes without a hitch due to both client and candidate cooperation and respect there is really no better feeling!

Client advice: Be realistic about salary

Clients want to find and hire amazing candidates but they need to realize that talent of this caliber usually comes at a cost.

Let me caveat this by saying I fully realize that clients have budgets and must respect these numbers in order to run their companies successfully. However, they should also keep in mind and make an effort to match the “going” rate for particular levels of experience.

Example- if an advertising agency seeks  an Account Director but the budget is only 90k (purely hypothetical) they should be open to senior account supervisor candidates or quite junior ADs–  who can grow into an account director role and whose salaries are in line with the position to start. It is unrealistic to expect to attract a seasoned account director when this type of salary is being offered.

Clients who are offering a salary that is not in line with the level of experience they seek are going to have trouble finding that amazing candidate for the role because –

1) That awesome candidate is most likely not going to take a paycut for the role and frankly shouldn’t.

2) No matter how promising the role is, the qualified candidate will not consider it in most cases because the company cannot match or exceed current salary.

3) It often makes the company look bad when they appear to be lowballing great candidates (even if this isn’t the intention) Recruiters are very knowledgeable about salaries in their respective industries and companies should take their advice when it comes to establishing a range for a role and negotiating offers to candidates.

Obviously companies shouldn’t break the bank in order to make an offer but they should be realistic and fair when establishing salary ranges for particular roles.

Interview cancellation and/or rescheduling etiquette for candidates and clients

There is proper etiquette for candidates and clients to follow when canceling and/or rescheduling interviews. It is bound to happen- a candidate wakes up with the flu or a client gets stuck with a last minute internal meeting– and the interview has to be cancelled. This is totally understandable, especially in these creative industries where schedules change and firedrills occur all the time.

However, both candidates and clients should do their bese to give as much advanced notice as possible and try not to cancel at the last minute as it can leave a bad impression on both parties.

Often a candidate has taken time off from his or her current job for the interview so a last minute cancellation could jeopardize his or her current role. Also when a candidate cancels last minute, it unfortunately can imply irresponsibility or rudeness in the client’s eyes.

The bottom line is that these last minute cancellations are often unavoidable. However, both parties should do their best to give advanced notice and proactively reschedule so momentum isn’t lost and interest is maintained.

The Importance of Client Feedback Following Candidate Interviews

It is much appreciated and very important that clients provide feedback following candidate interviews. As a recruiter, this feedback is really critical as we can help candidates to improve their interviewing skills through constructive criticism. Also it is always very encouraging to provide positive feedback from a client, even when the candidate has not been chosen for the role. This keeps the candidate interested in the company should future roles open and also boosts his or her confidence for future interviews. Clients should feel completely comfortable providing feedback to us, even if it is negative, as we relay it in a very eloquent and constructive way to our candidates.

Client feedback is also very helpful as it gives us even clearer direction in terms of the ideal candidate skill set and personality for the particular role. There are often very slight nuances that set one candidate apart from another or that make a candidate the perfect fit for an agency/position, so this type of post-interview feedback is critical to conducting the most thorough and accurate search on our end.

I realize that our clients are extremely busy on a daily basis so do not expect pages of feedback on each candidate. However, it truly is helpful to all parties throughout the process to be frank and forthright in terms of feedback on candidates that interview for specific roles.

Many thanks in advance to our clients who take the time to download us following interviews and help to guide us as we find the PERFECT candidate for the role!