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How Recruiters can Troubleshoot Client Relationships

As a recruiter, your relationships with your clients are vital to your success, but sometimes it can be quite hard work. In this article we’ll look at how you can troubleshoot your relationships with difficult or “problem” clients.

Issues you might have with clients

Managing clients can be one of the more challenging aspects of a recruiter’s work. Remember, your clients don’t necessarily deal with recruitment all the time – that’s why they need you – and this can mean they don’t understand what you need from them at every stage. Common issues include:

  • Vague requirements – the client does not provide enough detail to allow you to find a suitable candidate

  • Slow responses – the client is slow to respond and provide feedback to candidates throughout the process

  • Unrealistic expectations – the client’s expectations are too high or the requirements are impossible to meet

  • Inconsistent clients – the client can’t make a decision, or changes their mind at short notice

Be clear about your expectations from the start

Often the issues you may have later on in a client relationship can be traced to your handling of the client in the first few calls, where expectations are set on both sides. The client needs your help to fill the roles, as much as you need the client’s business, so don’t be afraid to ask detailed questions, and let them know what you need from them if you’re to do a good job.

In particular:

  • Make sure you have all the information you need about the job, and the team the candidate will be joining.

  • Explain to the client why prompt feedback is important

  • Determine how committed the client is to using your services, and help them realise that they need your help.

  • Set realistic expectations about the market for the skills they’re looking for.

Always keep your promises

Most issues will be more difficult to resolve if the client doesn’t fully trust you or your advice, and we decide if we can trust people, on a very basic level, by comparing what they say to what they do. Therefore, if you say you’ll do something and you don’t, or you promise something you can’t deliver, you lose more than you might think.

In terms of your client relationships, there is almost no way back from a broken promise, even if it appears to be trivial.  

Be persistent and patient

Remember your clients are working under their own pressures, and recruitment is a small part of what they do – that is after all why they need a specialist like you. It will take time to build a trusting relationship with new clients, and persistence and patience will usually pay off in the long term.

But know when to walk away

When you’re sure you’ve tried everything to make a relationship work but it’s still not working, you may have to think about walking away. This will go against the instincts of many recruiters, who will be reluctant to turn down business however problematic it is, but for a successful recruiter the lost time may not be worth it, and if the relationship has broken down, you’re probably not doing a good job for them or making much in fees in any case. In this situation it’s better for you and them if you both look elsewhere.

If you have questions or if we can help in any way please call our expert team on 01296 468483 or email

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