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You have undoubtedly heard the phrase “Any business is good business.” As you probably already know, that is an over-generalization that does not necessarily apply to recruiting (or any business, for that matter).

As industry trainer Barb Bruno said in a recent FoxHire blog article: “When you think of all the work that goes into marketing your services, writing a job order, and working that order – it’s vital that you choose to work only job orders that have the best chance of resulting in a placement.”

Or in the words of Kenny Rogers in his famous song, “The Gambler” – “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” But how do you know when you should walk (or run) away from a bad direct hire job order? Here are a few signs to watch for:

  1. No urgency. The client should be able to give you a timeline for when they want the position filled. “ASAP” is not a timeline. Try asking a more specific question, like “What is the target start date?” or “When will you be available for interviews?” If they cannot answer those questions, there likely isn’t much urgency.
  2. Slow or no response: If your client has a habit of not taking your phone calls or takes longer than 48 hours to respond to requests, you may want to reconsider taking job orders from them.
  3. Numerous recruiters working the same order. If you are one of many recruiters tapped for this placement, you may just be spinning your wheels on the job order.
  4. Key decision makers are AWOL. It may be worth your while to ask if you will have access to the key decision makers or hiring manager. Sure, you will likely start with human resources, but if the person with the need isn’t involved, this could be a disaster waiting to happen.
  5. The client is looking for a purple squirrel. The client wants an entry level person with 20 years experience who can write in hieroglyphics and enjoys fencing in their spare time. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but we’re guessing you’ve had clients with expectations almost that outrageous. Instead of beating your head against the wall, maybe it would be best to say “Thanks, but no thanks,” – Unless of course they are willing to try someone who has MOST of what they are looking for (hieroglyphics but no fencing?) on a contract-to-direct basis. Then by all means, take that job order!

The thing is, with or without these telltale signs, you probably already know in your gut what is and isn’t good business. However, you also know that you need to generate income. What if you had a steady stream of income that allowed you to be more choosy about your job orders? This  isn’t a pipe dream. You CAN turn down bad job orders… if you are generating a steady income through contract staffing. When you have contractors, you are paid for every hour they work during the contract period. Therefore, you are making money even when you are not making direct placements. This gives you the freedom to turn down job orders that you know ultimately won’t be worth your time, leaving you the time to concentrate on good job orders that are more likely to provide a large direct hire placement fee.

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