Recruitment Consultant Series Part 2: Qualifying – Working on the ‘Good Stuff’


Following on from “So You’ve Become a Recruitment Consultant, What Does That Really Mean” and we pick up where I finished off last week – the realisation that we can all be ‘busy fools’.

It’s easy to get distracted by a job with a big salary or a candidate that initially looks amazing. The problem is that they aren’t the pre-requisites to making money in recruitment. A candidate with a great CV and top notch skills will not make you money if they are not motivated to move into the position that you are offering them. Similarly, the big salary might be because no-one else has been able to find a candidate either.

I’m going to tackle qualifying from three different angles – the candidate, the role and the client; any one of which could cause the placement to fall through.


Spend 10 minutes in a conversation with them in order to qualify that they meet your standards. You are aiming to establish the following answers?

1.     What is their minimum bottom line salary?

Push them down as far as possible. Psychologically, they’ll be thinking that’s what they are going to get offered and when you offer them more, they will take it more readily.

2.     What are their motivations to make a move now?

Ideally you would want 3 – 5 motivating factors, such as location closer to home, a company that values me, an opportunity to learn new skills, a new challenge in my current market etc. Money is one, but you need a lot more for this to be an ideal candidate otherwise they will take a counter offer.

3.     How motivated are they?

Are they ‘tire-kickers’ just having a look around or are they really dedicated to the job of finding a new role?

4.     What have they done so far?

If they are committed to this process, then they are likely to have updated their CV, looked for roles themselves, maybe applied to companies they wanted to work for, contacted other agencies etc. the exception to this is if they heard 30 minutes ago that they were being made redundant.

5.     What could possibly stop them from taking their ideal role?

You need to know now before moving forward as to whether there is something that they are aware of that will mean they wouldn’t accept your role. This can be a spouse’s interference, a counter offer from another consultancy or their present company, a health condition, or even as I heard recently, the fact that the candidate’s dog would have to go into quarantine when they came back from their assignment abroad!

6.     Why would a company choose them over someone else looking for the same salary?

They need to have marketable qualities to sell to your clients, preferably 5 outstanding points about their achievements and accomplishments to date. It is your job to establish what they are, but it’s helpful for the candidate to come up with them as they’ll then remember them when being interviewed.

Once you have your answers you can now decide whether or not to interview them. The key is question, question, question.



Whether you call it a vacancy, assignment, booking, job, placement or role, taking an effective one is the same for all. The more detail you have, the better match you will be able to make with a suitable candidate. Understanding not only the day to day duties, but also the opportunities that will be available now and in the future and everything you can about the company, as well as what are the characteristics of the ideal person, and it will be so much easier to sell to your prospective candidates.

The key is to find out very early on – is the client committed to finding the right person for this position? If they are unwilling to give you 30 minutes (this time will get less the more you work with the company) to establish all of the information you require, then how much of a priority is filling this position to them?

Working on minimal briefs from the client means that you will make bad matches and the client will not value your service, which means you will struggle to earn your fee. Why should a client pay you for badly matched candidates that they could have found themselves?



It’s easy to get distracted by a client giving you some business. It’s not easy to get new clients on board, so when they approach you, it’s likely you’ll jump at the opportunity. Stop! Is this business that you want associated with your own brand?

Whether it’s a new client you are trying to convert or one that approaches you, it’s important to establish some criteria of the business that you want to partner with. There are occasions when taking positions from a company with a reputation for treating their staff badly or having a high turnover, will actually damage your business and reputation in the long run. It might be a positive initially that they have a high turnover – lots of opportunity for us, right? Wrong. In the long term your own placements will also leave and are unlikely to thank you if it was a bad experience and therefore won’t return for you to place them again.

The aim would be to have the discussion with the client, be honest. In the past, I have been able to turn around the reputation of the company by working with them. It’s worth a conversation, but if not, then it’s time to walk away.

Determine your own criteria for the type of companies that you want to work with and then go after the ones that fit those criteria. Don’t waste time with companies that are going to ruin your reputation. It’s down to you to make the right choices, don’t rely on your IT systems to qualify the information that you receive.

Next week we’ll look at key tips for interviewing candidates.



Angela Cripps
Angela Cripps
ANGELA has 25 years of experience in the recruitment industry and calls herself an industry advocate - anything that raises standards and Angela is likely to have a link to it somewhere. A professional trainer for the past 15 years, her LinkedIn profile shows she currently works for industry bodies. As a select member of our BizProphets "thought leadership" Panel, her expert insights afford industry participants the tools necessary to master the art of recruitment.

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