Partnership…or partnershit?

pshipAs those of you that regularly tune in to this blog will know, one of my biggest gripes with the recruitment industry is the over use of certain buzz words and phrases. You see them commonly appearing in job adverts and on LinkedIn updates, often churned out by unimaginative recruiters who have just picked up the latest lingo and repeating it without much meaning behind it….”hot job”; “employer of choice”; “warm desk”; “work/life balance”.

The one that seems to be getting more and more airtime these days is partnership.

“We are partnering with a well known firm who are looking for a …”

“We work in close partnership with our clients…”

If you genuinely have that relationship with your clients then fair enough. But, is what you have really a partnership? In most cases I suspect probably not.

A partnership, in my eyes anyway, generally involves two parties who have given some sort of commitment to do something together. Going into business with someone; getting married / co-habiting / waiting for the idiots in Canberra to allow you to; Kim and Kanye; John and Paul; Chas & Dave…

If you are given a vacancy alongside four or five other agencies, is that really a partnership?  If your client isn’t returning calls or emails promptly, is that really a partnership? If you are not allowed to talk to the hiring manager, or offer guidance and advice, is that a partnership? If your client isn’t holding you accountable, is that a partnership?

I think most recruiters would quite rightly say no. But that doesn’t stop a lot of them still calling whatever it is they have, the p word.

So what? What does it matter?

It probably doesn’t in most cases. Sure; when  it turns out that in fact you have minimal information about the role and clearly no influence in the process, any discerning candidate will realise they are not actually dealing with a partner at all, but just another bullshit recruiter who will say anything to get a candidate. It’s not a good look and bad for business….but that’s not going to bother some recruiters!

But, you probably will be bothered when ‘your client’ that you are supposedly ‘partnering’ with takes you off their juicy PSA you enjoy, the one that was worth a lot of money, because they are fed up with you falsely representing your relationship with them (being on a PSA isn’t necessarily the same as having a partnership).  Yes this happened…..and possibly worse to come…. but I’m not allowed to tell the full story (it’s a legal thing!)

Don’t get me wrong. There is room in the industry to recruit outside of a partnership model. Not every client has to be a partner and you don’t have to have been retained or be exclusive every time. In my business a chunk of our revenue comes from opportunistic fees with clients where there was no real partnership in place. No problem with that.

But if you don’t have a genuine partnership please stop calling it that. And if you obviously realise that there is some value in using the p word then here is an idea…..go and get some real partnerships instead of pretending you do.

Luke Collard


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