Partner vs. supplier: which one fits you?

How you think about yourself can have a big impact on what you do and how you do it. If you start the day thinking you’re washed up and addled, you will tackle the day’s challenges in a way that is completely different than if you view yourself as at your peak and sharp as a tack. This is both pop psychology and the way our brains work.

There are limits, of course. I once had a friend – a very U.S. Caucasian – who really wanted to be Thai. He hung out with Thai friends, ate Thai food, had a Thai girlfriend, and eventually spent time in Thailand. Yet, at the end of the day, he wasn’t Thai. He no doubt internalized much of what it means to be Thai. But his Thai friends viewed him as their ‘crazy American friend’. Not as a fellow Thai.

So why does this matter? Because the way you think about your recruitment marketing business – your business ‘self-perception’ – has a big impact on the way your customers view you. If you simply say ‘we sell job ads’, then you’re just a supplier of job ads. As you know, there are plenty of those out there – I wouldn’t be surprised if I could soon buy job ads at the local convenience store. Nothing wrong with being a supplier – but you know what? You’re in a commodity market. You’re fighting on price with other suppliers.

But let’s say that you think of your business as a recruitment partner with your clients. You are working alongside your clients to find the right candidates for them. As a partner, you need to understand how the client works – what they really need – and then translate that into recruiting tactics. You may (or may not) be selling job posts – but those are only a means to an end. It’s unlikely you can be a successful recruitment partner simply by selling job posts – after all, ‘one size does not fit all’. In fact, thinking of your business as a recruitment partner forces you to come up with multiple tools and tactics for your clients. And that’s good.

Where does the Thai stuff come in? Well, you can visualize your company as a recruitment partner. But you have to back that up with facts. You’ll need to do the hard work to understand your client. You’ll need to offer tools that work. And you need to validate results. Just because you envision yourself as a partner doesn’t make it so.

It’s the start of the year – so it’s also a good time for a reevaluation of your business. Take the time to ask yourself the question: are we partners – or suppliers? A little introspection can go a long way.

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