On the job: Professions divided by a common language

HR Hartley our irascible weekly columnist, speaks his mind

There’s a scene in the film Tootsie where Dustin Hoffman in female persona
is told by the object of his affections that all she wants is a guy to be
straight with her about finding her attractive and wanting to, shall we say,
progress things. A few scenes later Hoffman, now back to being male, does
exactly that and gets a drink in his face for his efforts. I may a get a few in
my face after this.

What brings this movie to mind, you ask? As HR professionals we are
responsible for recruitment and the one thing we need to get that particular
job done is candidates. But watch the face of any HR person when the call is
announced as "X from Y Recruitment for you" – it drops.

While the temptation to make my fortune as Ben Affleck’s body double is
always there, I feel more comfortable in the knowledge I could make a far
larger fortune training recruitment consultants to talk to HR people. Let’s
face it – we are two professions divided by a common language.

I recently got into a debate with the owner of a recruitment business who
blanched at the number of recruiters I work with. He went on to:

a) Say he could help (pah!)

b) tell me what I was doing wrong (always a winner) and

c) say he had the perfect people for my business (of course he knew nothing
about what I was looking for).

I take the view that I work with a larger number of recruiters because I
want to access a wider range of candidates and if that takes more work for me
then so be it. I get handsomely rewarded!

Still, I suppose I have to raise the question: What have we HR recruiters
done to help consultants help us? Well, we’ve erected a mass of barriers to
ward them off – preferred supplier lists, receptionists, voicemail, choice afternoons,
out and out rudeness… They all prevent the genuinely good from representing the
genuinely great to those in the need. If we’re to find a way towards best
practice, maybe the first step forward is to share more information on
suppliers, and put together a benchmark that cuts through the "we do it
differently" marketing so adored by recruitment consultants.

We could even communicate to our suppliers the best ways of how we like to
work to get the best job candidates. That would allow them to minimise their
opportunities for regularly winding us up. We could even start a debate that
could end up with the phrase "recruitment consultant as business
partner" in common use – imagine that!

Where does this leave me? The usual place at 7.30pm on a Monday – my desk,
pondering two questions: how can we as a profession sort this situation out?
And , if there were no recruitment consultants would my advertising work
better? But don’t get me started on advertising…

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