7th October 2020

Who Do We Work For?

Where does our loyalty lie? With our clients or with our candidates?

This is a question I get a lot with family and friends. I know that certain people I work with are thinking about it, despite not asking me directly. I can see it from how they behave during my interactions throughout the process with them. When candidates or clients withhold information for example is clear to me. Often, I can tell, you can feel that something isn’t right. There are inconsistencies in their answers, lags in response times, or the debrief takes weeks. Don’t get me wrong, the latter of the three is not abnormal, however, when the expectation was set for a quick turnaround and then it takes much longer, we know there is something else going on.

Back to my initial question, who are we truly working for, the client or the candidate? The short answer for me is both. In my opinion, it goes hand in hand. My candidates often become my clients and I must be transparent and honest with them if I want to build a trustworthy relationship. At the same time, I have the responsibility to my clients to protect them and guide them in the best way possible. It is a difficult balance but it is critical to maintain this during the recruitment process.

One of the questions I’m asked often by candidates and friends is why would you have the best interest of the candidate in mind if the client is the one paying you?

It’s a good question and I often answer with a question…


What are they paying me for?

In my opinion, they are paying me to find the best talent in the market for that specific job function. They want this person to be there long-term, they want them to be excited to come into work every day and to be happy that they accepted the role at this company and not somewhere else. It’s in my best interest to educate my clients on how to do that.

If my client conducts a bad interview process or delivers an unappealing offer to a candidate, how does that reflect on the client? Typically, poorly.

It’s my job to ensure that I coach my clients through the process to ensure that they are reflected in a positive light and are constantly putting their best foot forward. Now understand, their actions are not malicious or purposeful but oftentimes because of a lack of experience with recruitment or with more sophisticated recruitment methods. I help them with the process, I explain the norms, I set up an infrastructure that’s conducive for them but also provides an exceptional candidate experience.

Some of you out there may say that this does not allow for the candidate to see the company for what it truly is, but try to look at it from a different perspective. Don’t you want to be at a company that is receptive to feedback or open to change? Don’t you want to work for someone who is genuinely open to hearing your ideas and implementing them?

Then this is a direct example of the company and hiring manager being able to do that. Without knowing it, they are showing their true colors and what the job would look like once this person steps into the role. Something to think about as you’re looking at a new job, has your recruiter gone through this exercise?


Now, how does this all play into my support of the candidate?

It’s all about relationships and expectation setting. Understanding who the candidate is, what their needs are, and what their expectations are. By doing this, I can bring this to the forefront of the hiring manager’s mind. I can advocate for the candidates and position it in a way that equally does not reflect poorly on the candidate. A large majority of the time it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. The way it’s received could make all the difference in actually getting to common ground.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are certain things you can’t ignore. You could try to sugarcoat things but it’s dishonest and generally, people see through that aspect so it is never in anyone’s best interest to mislead. If there is a red flag, I need to address it and I need to communicate it. However, my goal is to make the process seamless and transparent for both parties.

The most common example of the discrepancy of whom I work for is around compensation. What’s interesting is that when it comes to compensation, it’s a lose/lose for the recruiter. Candidates think that the recruiter is trying to get their compensation down because the client would be happier if the salary is lower. Clients sometimes think that the compensation is inflated because we will make more money if the compensation is higher. The reality is, neither of those is true for me.

Let me express how I look at it.

When it comes to the client, my focus is on delivering the best possible talent that fits the criteria that they’ve set out. Of course, compensation expectation is a factor I must take into account and appreciate, but I also don’t want to hold back a candidate that checks all the boxes but may cost them a few extra dollars. If typical compensation for the role is higher then what the client wants to pay, then I need to guide them on what is realistic. If they under-pay someone then longevity for that individual is unlikely more often then not. Eventually, they become unsettled about it, and when someone approaches them about a similar job for more money they will likely look at it.

However, when it comes to the candidate, I will try to set their expectations appropriately knowing what the industry typically pays but also where my client can get. My goal is always to try to get the best package for both the client and the candidate at a place where they are both happy. This gets the relationship off to a good start. The client feels happy that the candidate didn’t try to take everything they could get and the candidate feels like the client put their best foot forward to give them a competitive package that makes them happy. It’s a win/win. This only happens because I’m looking out for the interest of both parties because I know when I do, at the end of the day I’ll create a great marriage.

So, who do I work for? I work for clients and candidates alike. I put my best foot forward and offer the best service I can because at the end of the day it benefits everyone and I can work with my head held high.


By Mark Benmoise

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