It’s better to be friends – honest! – read on….     

In my 11 years running recruitment businesses in China (latterly my own RMG Selection) and almost 20 in the recruitment consultancy business I have encountered numerous ‘clients’ – that is to say – those hiring candidates via us, who seem to think behaving with explicit rudeness, dishonestly and lack of speed; with a sense of superiority and often with a lack of information is the way to show their importance and seniority. This is particularly true of junior HR in China.

I have also worked with some lovely clients. One German lady was a real pleasure to work for. One Frenchman became a very close friend, one Chinese lady became such a good friend that she came to my child’s 100 day party (a Chinese thing).

Here’s why behaving like the first group ‘Group rude’, isn’t smart:

  • You simply will not get the best service. People are programmed from birth to ignore or do the least for those who treat them poorly. It’s an automatic response. It’s a bit like me putting out my hand for you to shake it; you will reach out yours – automatically. The same is true of those that treat us poorly; we automatically give them less attention.
  • You will lose your company money. If you treat people like your personal slave, but maintain the contract/agreement with them, the chances are reasonably high you will end up paying them for something at some stage. For example, if my consultant is dealing with ‘x’ internal recruiter at ‘x’ company, after a while ‘x’ company will probably hire one of my recruiter’s candidates…………………….Now go back and think about your interactions with the consultant. If you had been more pleasant, time had been better spent, you respected their personal time rather than calling at 10pm, and you dropped the attitude, wouldn’t you have saved yourself time? Wouldn’t they be more motivated to work for you?
  • You will look foolish. One of the many realizations I’ve had in my time in the recruitment consultancy business is that those clients who act as per group 1 ‘Group rude’ and behave with a sense of superiority and lack of respect, do in fact demonstrate only 2 things: One, they are junior and trying to overcompensate for it; and two – they lack the experience and wisdom to know that if you treat people well they will treat you well. They also seem to believe that their behavior is invisible to those senior in their companies. It isn’t. How people behave is one of the fastest ‘markers-out’ of personality there is, and good recruiters establish senior level contacts, fast.

So that’s what you shouldn’t do, so what should. Here’s a checklist:

  • If you manage an external ‘vendor’ (we are called business partners in the west), treat them in a friendly, respectful mature way. Speak to them politely and courteously and don’t call them after hours unless it’s an emergency, they have a life too.
  • If they are working hard to help you, make sure you work hard to help them help you. The number of times I’ve spoken to clients who haven’t even read CVs they’ve requested when days before they were ‘in a rush’ days is too horrifying to even recall!
  • Give out information, and if you don’t know find out! Most if not all HR departments are not fully conversant with the nuances of each job in their company. How could they be? That is an impossible task. But equally, a recruitment consultant can’t do their job if the are not in possession of all the facts. Help them get to the facts, and do it with them – i.e. talk to the line manager(s) with the recruiter.
  • Pay their invoices. On time. If you make an agreement stick to it. The number of people (again a sign of lack of seniority) who think it’s ‘OK’ to renegotiate after a ‘deal’ is done is staggering. Don’t expect recruitment consultants to do their best for you, if you don’t honor their agreements. If there’s a genuine hold up in a payment process, first apologise for it, then explain it: I had an email from an HR VP this morning asking if an invoice had been paid – he could not have been more pleasant – I replied thanking them for the follow-up. This is what really senior people do.

Of course all of this assumes that the recruiter is intelligent, knowledgeable, and professional in the first place. But if they weren’t you wouldn’t be talking to them, would you?

In the west, recruitment has moved on. It’s no longer the domain of those who haven’t been to university, or those who are good at selling printers. It attracts intelligent graduates.

The relationship between HR and recruiters has also moved on too. It is all about collaboration and respect, not politics and posturing. Isn’t it about time China grasped this too? Think of the time it would save!

This article was written by Robert Parkinson, Founder & CEO of RMG. He can be contact by email via robert.parkinson@rmgselection.com or via +86 10 5896 2210 (direct).