My background, before my move in to the world of legal recruitment, was the life of being a solicitor in private practice. I was a Litigation lawyer at a large, well-known regional law firm, and I had become used to the adversarial world I lived in, where it was me against them and ultimately there was going to be a winner and a loser, or so the theory goes. Looking back, the peculiar challenges of what was a very argumentative day to day working experience coloured every aspect of my approach to my work. It became the norm to see things in black and white, to be adamant about my view and completely dismissive of theirs. After all I was always right, so they were always wrong.
So, by contrast, one of the fantastic things I realised about the life of a recruiter when I started over 12 years ago, was the idea that everyone was actually on the same side. Everyone wants the same outcome so there is the very real prospect of everyone working together and ultimately winning together. A world of good news and happy phone calls. After all, the client wants to fill the vacancy, the candidate wants the job, and we want to help, facilitate, and of course in turn get paid when successful. When everything works well there really is a sense of everyone being happy, even if discussions on the money side of things (salaries needed to get a deal over the line and our fees) can be tricky at times. Generally speaking the client will love us and appreciate all our efforts and expertise, the candidate will be super-excited and just occasionally will despatch a very nice bottle of wine as a small thanks, and I manage to once again reassure the bank manager that he doesn’t have anything to worry about, for another month at least.
Now in reality, it is never quite that easy of course. I get that. Sometimes it isn’t a happy phone call at all, sometimes it’s a disappointing one. Far from everyone winning it may be an instance where everyone loses, as the client still hasn’t filled their problem vacancy and the candidate has hit the crossbar rather than secure their dream job. But we were all still in it together weren’t we, it was a team effort, all striving for the same successful outcome whether we get there or not? That’s a world away from my previous life as an adversarial litigation lawyer.
I was thinking about this the other day after attending a long meeting with a client law firm, who shall remain nameless of course. The overstretched HR Manager was as ever very pleased to see me, but the recruiting partner also in attendance was a little more difficult. At points it seemed I was being classed as and treated like the enemy. I found myself having to remind them that they had called me in relation to their ‘very tough to fill’ vacancy, not the other way round. I am proud of our team and our many years of experience. We provide a 360 service and we are well known in the market for getting to know the firms, the teams, and the individual Partners, so ensuring we can provide the best, expert advice. And lest anyone forget, if the client doesn’t successfully recruit for their vacancy as a result of our help, they don’t pay us a penny for all our hard work on their behalf.
I guess I was trying to explain that we are all on the same side. I want what they want and I’m trying just as hard (sometimes harder). So many of our law firm clients get this, but thinking of the few that perhaps don’t quite get it, here is my ask.
It’s a simple plea to everyone I am going to talk with today, tomorrow, next week and next year. Let’s try and work together, with respect and professional courtesy, because it really does work better for everyone that way.
Candidates – be honest, tell me everything I need to know, open up and let me understand what you’re looking for. Try and return my calls in the same way as I’ll return yours, and understand that I’m trying to help when I advise you that your salary expectations are potentially unrealistic and could prevent you from securing the dream job which will move you forward in your career.
Clients – work with us, let us talk to the Partner or better understand the team, and come back to us on candidates we have been able to identify for you with the same urgency we put in to finding them for you in the first place. Please do share feedback good and bad so we can refine the process and manage the relationship with the candidate who seems to tick ‘nearly’ all the boxes, and remember we are here to help!
More than ever, we understand our clients need our help and some genuine experience and expertise on their side. In the current market conditions finding good quality candidates is so difficult. We are working in an acutely candidate short market, and simple supply and demand means there is fierce competition as a result with not enough great people for everyone. The law firms who are tending to ‘win’ at the moment are the clients who work closely with us and who see the relationship as a business partnering arrangement. Now, of course, I would say all of this wouldn’t I… it just happens to be true!
Here’s to a strong end to 2016 and a successful 2017, helping happy clients grow their businesses, helping candidates develop their careers, keeping my boss happy and drinking the occasional very nice bottle of wine.
Matthew Goodwin: 0117 917 1872 or firstname.lastname@example.org.