Recruitment is a 3-way thing: The triangle of trust

When people try to explain the importance of relationships in business, recruitment, and various other sectors, the ‘triangle of…’ or triangulation is often used as a way to show how each party must work with one another to bring about a desired result.

In education, we talk of the school-student-parent relationship being all-important. Health, we speak of the triangle of care. In business, the term ‘triangle of trust’ is often heard.

And recruitment is no different, because recruitment is a 3-way thing too.

In recruitment, the three key parties are: the agent, the client, and the candidate. It is only when all the lines of communication are clear and open between all parties that the paths of the recruitment journey will remain direct, unblocked, and ultimately lead to the end goal of a happy client, candidate and agent.

Trust is a key aspect of this 3-way relationship. When either trust or communication breaks down, the potential for hiccups along the way is greatly increased, and damage is done to relationships.

From an agent’s point of view it can sometimes feel that the triangle is neither an equal partnership, nor a particularly fair one. So, if a candidate fails to show up for the final stage of an interview, the client might see this as being the agent’s fault. Similarly, if it transpires that a candidate does not possess a specific skill set, once again the finger of a blame will often be pointed at the agent.

The situation that the agent finds itself in in regards to the client can also be a tricky and complicated one. For instance, within the ‘pod’ of the client, there could be various other people that could impact and influence decisions, whether it’s a line manager, team leader or internal recruiter or HR.

If the goal posts are moved by either the agent, candidate or client then the whole thing breaks down. With the potential of various stakeholders having involvement on the part of the client, it only takes one person to take a different view or approach to potentially put a major spanner in the works.

So, what can the agent do to improve the situation? Well, on one hand the answer is probably not a lot – the agent will always be the most vulnerable in the 3-way recruitment relationship. It is the nature of the industry and the nature of the process. However, this doesn’t mean the agent is completely powerless.

It all comes back to the matter of trust again.

Trust is achieved when others have faith in you and a firm belief in your ability to do what you have said you will do. It’s about people having confidence in you. With confidence, comes reliance – if you are consistently seen as being reliable. Trust, of course, is something that is earned.

All parties need to contribute to the triangle of trust. The client should do all they can to ensure that the agent has one key point of contact, if possible. The candidate needs to be trusted to be honest about what their skills are and what their motivation is. Both the client and the candidate have their part to play, but for the agent’s part if they can establish trust, when things do go awry occasionally (as they inevitably will from time to time), long-term damage to the relationship will be less likely to occur.

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