I was having a chat with one of the truly awesome agency sales/recruiters I know. I mentioned her banter wasn’t up to par, and she replied with (and I copied this straight from our text, by the way):
My banter is worn out from being on the phone with [name removed to protect the guilty] today, hammering home the client/candidate control idea. I tell him that we don’t have control, but we disagree.
Having been on the phone with the same guilty party, having had the same discussion with the man, I knew just what she was saying. You might have the illusion of control, but it is a diaphanous as the most transparent negligée. What you can have, in fact, what you want, is an open honest relationship without any games!
One of my problems with the current thing we call capitalism is that it doesn’t allow for the idea of a trade as opposed to a sale. Someone has to profit, which means someone has to lose. I am a big fan of the works of Robert Anton Wilson – he talks about it, via the guise of Hagbard Celine, in the Illuminati! Trilogy:
In the same mathematically reciprocal way, profit implies loss. If you and I exchange equal goods, that is trade: neither of us profits and neither of us loses. But if we exchange unequal goods, one of us profits and the other loses. Mathematically. Certainly.
So, first you’re saying, wait, didn’t this start out about Client/Candidate Control? Then, you’re saying are you some sort of Hippie Pinko Commie Socialist Liberal? The answer to both those questions is maybe. My point is we aren’t selling a product, we are offering a service. Our expert level skills are the “product” doing something someone else cannot. We get paid for the search, for the process management and for the delivery on the Start Date. (Oh, and 90 days after on average). Who profits? Ideally everyone, from the candidate who has a new opportunity, to the client who has someone to perform needed tasks, to you earning your commission and/or salary. There is nothing wrong with profit when a service is what’s for sale as there is nothing tangible, noting physical that we can define value by. There are many things wrong about how some people try and make a profit on services though. Which is how we get back to the idea of control, both client control and candidate control. If you are “losing control” of either side, well, you have already failed. You aren’t offering a service, you’re pimping a product. You aren’t giving equal value, you’re selling a lemon and calling it a Cadillac. We deal with Human Beings, not Automatons.
With that in mind, what can we do as the middle person, to make sure everything goes smooth? Easy like Sunday morning is far different then CONTROL. Here are a few things I suggest:
- To Thine Ownself be True: With clients and candidates always be yourself. We all have different masks we wear, we are all our own Zelig, that’s is part of being someone who can live in society. However, try to be as close to who you REALLY are, as you can be. It won’t get everyone to be your friend but personal connections make the difference, not just in recruiting, but in all relationships. Plus, Bullshit Stinks and is very noticeable in mixed company
- O this learning, what a thing it is!: Listen and Learn, then look it up and come back with questions. You are hunting a skill set you have never touched before… Call someone whose resume matches and ASK. Admitting ignorance is the first step to gaining knowledge. Plus, who doesn’t like to talk about their specialty? Hell, I love it so much I write a monthly column for free!
- I have cause, and will, and strength, and means To do’t.: This is a hard one for me, personally. It is something I struggle with on every call. Ask those tough questions where you are afraid of the answer. How does it stack up against what you have now? How do you feel about taking 10k less? How do you feel knowing that the entire board of directors was just indicted? How do you feel about adding 20 minutes to your commute? We all think we know the answers… We are all afraid of the answers…. Yet, get it out there. Get your red flags out early, they’ll be there if you ask or don’t ask. Ignorance of a problem doesn’t make it go away
- Knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven: That line about looking it up in number 2? Something I have noticed is that not everyone understands that everything is now out there… and that everything that isn’t will be out there someday. Just ask Brownie, Pippa Middleton or anyone left at News Corp. Be aware of all the negatives and positives of your openings, your clients and candidates. You can be sure everyone else involved will be googling it. If you address it upfront and clear the air, it is not going to pop up and bite you.
- Nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so Let us keep with the looking it up theme: Because you can find positive things to talk about as well… It’s a dual edged sword, friends. It’s also the best tool to help do the first thing on the list. I am lucky (or cursed, I don’t know anymore) with an insatiable curiosity, so I can always find a way to connect on a personal level.
I am more than happy to go on in this vein for some time, but it really boils down to while you cannot control anything, you can try to have the best knowledge so you can confront any challenges when they raise their head. The best way to know these challenges is to make your relationships transparent, honest and clear. That will give you the answers you need to guide and steer, but never mistake it for the illusion of control.
“A Journey is like Marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” – John Steinbeck