For the Rookie Account Manager: Qualifying a Job

One of the toughest responsibilities for new account managers in the recruiting world is ensuring your recruiters are spending their time wisely. In other words, are they focusing their time on jobs that will make both of you money?

Qualifying a job is always a tough task for an account manager. Some of the ideal questions we ask ourselves can only be answered as we move deeper into the process with the client. Here are a few qualifiers that all account managers should be able to answer when they put a job in front of their recruiters:

Realistic Job — This one is easy. From the outset, an account manager should be able to tell if the job order is realistic. We’ve all seen job requirements that are describing someone that doesn’t exist. Spend time with the hiring manager discussing the job description in detail and really focus in on what is crucial and what may not be as important. Educate the hiring manager on realistic candidate availability in the market.

Fees — Has the client agreed to pay your fee? Have they signed an agreement? This is a cardinal rule for account managers. Getting too deep in the process without discussing fee structure can lead to the loss of respect around the office, and get you in hot water. New account managers are often so excited to get a job order that they often overlook this step. Once the process has started and you and your recruiters have invested time in recruiting for the position, it is often much harder to back away from the search if issues with fees arise. Get this step taken care of up front. Open and honest communication is key.

Priority — How long has the job been open? Do they really need to fill it ASAP or is this a position they can do without for a while? This question is very important and will likely answer a couple of the other questions on this list. If the manager doesn’t really need this person urgently, he won’t be as responsive and the process will take much longer. All of this is not good news for the recruiting agency, and will lead to wasted time and effort.

Process — How long will the interview/onboarding process take? Time kills all deals! Account managers and recruiters know that the longer the process takes, the harder it is to make a deal. Dig in around their interview/background process. If your client has no sense of urgency around the interview process, your chances of making the deal have just significantly decreased. Educate your client and make sure they understand that candidates in high demand won’t wait around for extended internal processes.

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Competition — How many other vendors are working on this position? Are they willing to share this information with you? Did everyone receive the job order at the same time? Knowing who you are up against is important. If you are one of many agencies taking a shot at the job, you might want to de-prioritize it or back away altogether. Make sure that you are honest with yourself and are willing to turn down a position if you don’t have some sort of exclusivity or understanding of your competition.

Mutual Respect — Does the manager understand and respect the service you provide? Are they willing to return your calls and give you feedback in a timely fashion? With new clients, this qualifier can sometimes only be known after the fact. It is important to set expectations up front, so that when your recruiter is asking you for feedback on a submittal or interview you can get an answer quickly.

There are other factors that can be added to this list, but these are a solid foundation to qualify a job. Some of these qualifiers will have to be sacrificed along the way for a new client or client you know does a large volume of business. However, if you can’t answer a number of these questions, you should probably continue searching for your next deal.

Gordon Kelly is technical account manager at UDig, a staffing firm specializing in the tech sector. UDig is headquartered in Richmond, VA, with offices in Washington, DC and Raleigh, North Carolina. UDig was named to Staffing Industry Analysts' list of the fastest growing staffing companies in 2012.

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