Indulge me if you will – if only for a second. I have a real quick, super simple exercise I’d like you to try. Remove one of your shoes. Untie the laces, unbuckle the strap… it doesn’t really matter (so long as they’re not slides/ slip-ons 😊).
Now, I’d like you to put one of your hands behind your back and attempt to put your shoe back on – in full.
How’d you go? To those that were able to successfully tie their laces or do up the buckle – well, kudos to you! But if like me you found this task all but impossible to achieve don’t fret – it was a purpose driven exercise merely to highlight that like tying your shoes – “it takes two hands to clap.”
And just like in business – by working together we achieve success. Meeting in the middle.
Which got me to thinking – As recruiters, how do we define partnership?
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard or read the phrase “we partner with…” but I’m curious to better understand how the recruitment industry perceives the term partner and where they draw the line. For mine it is a genuine coming together of two or more parties all working toward a common goal. Vulnerable, open, passionate, driven. Their own personal agenda set aside for the greater good of success. Win-win if you will.
But for so many the perception of a partner is often not the reality. How many of us out there have used the phrase only to realise that said partnership is very much one-way traffic. This partnership is on their terms (almost always with you reducing your fee), the conversations always seem so one sided – “I’ll call you when I need you” and sadly on too many an occasion our ground work, screening, meetings, preps, submissions, candidate management, constant badgering (bordering on harassment) chasing feedback, time slots, paperwork and so on goes unrewarded and ultimately impacts negatively our own market brand “oh, sorry – no longer needed/ on hold/ filled via other means.”
And yet we refer to said clients as a partner?
Susan Ward’s “Why Business Partnerships Fail” published in October 2019 states that one major reason business partnerships fail is through a differing level of commitment between parties – often it is one person who over commits for fear of loss or over acceptance. Sound familiar?
One of the most difficult things to do in recruitment is to say no.
Too many of us undervalue ourselves – accepting the role we play and often selling ourselves short simply to maintain the perceived partnership with a specific client or brand. But why? Being a doormat is certainly no partnership – and yet for some reason the wider recruitment industry accepts this as the norm. To be called on only when the client is desperate, and yet set unrealistic expectations, to have our meetings cancelled last minute over and over because something ‘more important’ has come up. To reduce our fees, increase guarantees and continuously compete with dozens of other providers – all taking the same opportunity to market with their “partner client.”
And how do we respond? Sadly, for the most part it’s with an “OK. No worries. Here if you need me.” Content in our master/ slave arrangement to maintain the status quo with our beloved partner.
As I said one of the most difficult things to do in recruitment is to say no. It’s also one of the most powerful. So why don’t we challenge the status quo?
Next time your client pushes back on your 14-day payment terms for contingent staffing asking for 90 days because “that’s the policy” don’t just accept it for what it is. Pause, take a deep breath – and educate. Speak with them (not at them – and there’s a big difference here).
A true partnership should very much give you an opportunity to open up the lines of communication by talking through (as per my payment terms example) how you run a fortnightly pay cycle for your contract staff – with contractor care and well-being at the very centre of your core focus. Outline that we are working at ensuring we are taking care of the very people working to deliver the work for them. Candidate satisfaction being an integral piece to the very framework that makes up our DNA. Be brave. Be curious. Be honest. Be strong. But whatever you do try not to sell yourself short. You are a representation of something much bigger. Don’t tread all over them, but certainly don’t move backward. Meet in the middle. Hold your own and Own it.
If you can achieve this give yourself a round of applause. It’s the first steps toward a genuine partnership.