LinkedIn is full of damnations of the dreaded recruiter. The money hungry, abominable creation of the gig economy, a skills shortage and the growing demand for top talent.
I'm not going to launch into a defence of recruiters - this is a much hashed out, tired topic of LinkedIn. Plus, words are cheap.
But I will say that not all recruiters are phone-wielding, avaricious beasts of hedonism. I, for one, enjoy watching old episodes of 70's Poldark with my Nan and spend way too much money on books.
Although I suppose I do conform to the stereotype by being completely gripped by this season of Love Island and enjoying a pint of Guinness on a Friday. I also quoted Steve Jobs in my bio on Camino Partner's website (I really should change this...).
Recruiters are not the caricature that is painted of them on LinkedIn (and if in your experience they are, then you're working in the wrong recruitment business).
That being said, working with recruiters can be challenging. You need to be able to get them to buy into you, be able to push back where necessary, empathise with them whilst also riding with the ups and downs.
So, I thought I'd draw up a little advice for finance professionals either struggling to build relationships with sales staff, or finance professionals looking to transition into the recruitment sector.
We've all sent a text before in which the tone has been misconstrued. It's the beauty of language. For example, if you say "she said she did not take his money" and put the emphasis on a different word each time, it completely changes the meaning.
This same communication barrier can cause rifts between finance and the sales team. Emails can be misinterpreted and tone misread. Do I add an emoji? Do exclamation marks make me seem cheery or manic?
The easiest way to counteract this is by getting out amongst the business. Introduce yourself to not only the key stakeholders but the sales team. Find out their frustrations and talk them through yours. If they know the face behind the email signature, it's a lot easier to understand future text tones.
Become a partner to the sales team. Improve and tailor your service and take feedback to see how it has progressed.
It's like Will Smith says in Hitch "60% of all human communication is nonverbal body language, 30% is your tone. So that means 90% of what you're saying ain't coming out of your mouth."
Great film by the way.
One of the benefits of recruitment is the fun (and sociable) culture. Take advantage of this! It's a lot easier to build relationships with people if you were tied to them in the three-legged race in the last company sports day.
Ensure that your finance team is integrating with the sales team too. You don't need to force anyone to be best friends (although, obviously it's nice if you're pals with your colleagues) but it's healthy to partake in team building activities, so you should encourage this.
Whether it's white water rafting, bowling, axe throwing (would highly recommend) or just having a meal!
Don't be a yes-person. If you disagree then push back against them in an emotionally intelligent way. Recruiters can be headstrong and stubborn (and also very persuasive, hence the career choice) so you need to have a strength of character to be able to tactfully push back against them.
Part of this is also around educating. Often, recruiters won't have your technical knowledge and it's about being able to get them to understand your point of view and why something needs to be done a certain way. Explain it to them and then show them the benefit to them.
The easiest way to get recruiters to fully buy into the finance department is by having the buy-in on the board/senior management. This trickles down.
If the board highly values the finance department, this is generally mirrored by the rest of the business. This is also the case vice versa. If you think that the senior management team is hindering the improvement of the perception of the finance department, then a conversation needs to be had.
You need to focus on creating a value-adding service and building strong relationships between sales and finance. You need to form a positive attitude throughout your finance team towards sales and encourage other stakeholders to do vice versa.
It takes two to tango, and it certainly takes two to create a robust working relationship. So, make sure that the effort is also being put in by the sales team to help to shape this.