After nine months back at the coalface of recruitment I recently shared my thoughts on a few of the changes since the early 2000s. Fortunately, I have also found that many things haven’t changed either. Many of these are reasons why I still love this industry so much. As promised, here is my light-hearted look at how recruitment hasn’t changed…
1. Recruiters love talking about “the good old days.” While no-one wants to go backwards in their career, recruiters always look back fondly. Everyone remembers the first few years of starting their desk. The first deal, the first bonus, the first incentive lunch/trip. And even the stuff that didn’t seem too funny at the time you can now look back on with a wry smile on your face; the first client meeting in which you had zero idea on what you were doing, the first candidate offer that your boss had to salvage, and the first time you called one of those strictly off limits line managers from the branch’s top spend account…and then the phone rang from the Head of HR! It wasn’t funny at the time, but well worth a good chuckle now.
Outside of the actual job there was all the soft intangibles; being part of the new intake for Rookie School, the Friday gang that would grab a Kirin and a Prawn Sandwich at the Corney & Barrow, or having your manager cover your early morning hangover absence because you were “on a visit.”
Everyone loves the good old days. That hasn’t changed. And the last 9 months back on the tools? Well they have felt like the good old days again. While no one has had to salvage the deals or cover me for not being in on time, it has been overwhelmingly exciting. Lots of firsts, lots of fun and lots of purpose.
2. We make a difference to people’s lives: Yes, we get “recruiter bashed” on LinkedIn most days, (albeit – anyone noticed this seems to be less so as of late?) but in anyone’s life there are always three big decisions. 1, Getting married. 2, Buying a house and 3, Changing job. Changing job is a massive decision and one we cannot underestimate.
While I have only actually ever changed job once in my life, I know that one or two of my internal moves had me sideways for a while. “Closing a deal” is clearly a thrill, and most of us certainly don’t do it for free, however helping someone change their life for the better is something we should feel immensely proud of. And that must never change.
3. Lasting relationships are rewarding for both sides: The last article sparked a few comments on still needing to build lasting working relationships. Creating 10-year memories? Know – like – trust? Business Partners & Trusted Advisers? The Rings of Destiny? ABC lists? Suspects, Prospects, Customers, Clients, and Partners?
I have sat through, plagiarised and delivered a fair few workshops on building relationships over the years and they all still ring true.
Old adages such as “I’ve never had a job called in from a client I have never met” are largely true.
Looking at your fill rates on jobs with clients that you’ve worked with for years does not lie either. I recall meeting up with the first candidate I ever found a permanent role for a good 10 years after placing him, and it was hugely rewarding to see he had kept that age stained, dog-eared business card in his wallet for all those years.
In today’s age of technology related communication, you still can’t email a handshake, and why would you want to? No-one likes staring at a screen all day so toasting a good piece of recruitment with the customer over a cold beer or glass of red is one of the best parts of the job.
4. When clients or candidates don’t call you back, it feels rubbish: In fact, it feels like that time when you were fourteen and your boyfriend/girlfriend was avoiding your calls (it only happened once – honest!) Now admittedly, recalling back to when I was fourteen is going to be harder for me than for some, but I remember that waiting by the phone feeling. Please ring. Please ring. But it doesn’t.
How long until you phone again? Do you leave a message? Do you send an follow up email? If anyone has seen the voice message scene from Job Favreau’s character, Mike Peters in “Swingers” you will know what not to do.
I remember my formative years learning the trade. Influencing clients and candidates was a dark art; tact, diplomacy, EQ. Knowing how to point our positive and negative consequences of confirming our next call. And while I have managed to avoid the “Black Hole of Recruitment” – you know that evil place where CV’s get emailed to and then never spoken about again – I have experienced the client or candidate that promised to call you back, and then goes AWOL on your ass. I get it, sometimes your customers time frames are just not on the same as yours, and while I completely understand it… when clients or candidates don’t call you back, it still feels rubbish!
5. Despite getting your head kicked in, you still come back for more: We all know recruitment is tough. The highs, the lows, the roller-coaster rolls on. This is one of the only roles where your product (apologies trusted candidates) changes its mind and can leave you high and dry. If you work in a commission-based environment then you have probably totted up the salary and more specifically, the fee, well before the bonus comes in.
When that counter offer rears its head or the other offer that they had interviewed for weeks ago arrives out of the blue….it hurts. And it’s not just the deal falling through that hurts. The other agency’s candidate getting offered on your “3 of 4 at finals cert,” the killer CV having been sent through to the Hiring Manager already, or the client explaining a new policy has come in and you are off the PSL. It simply pours “having your head kicked in!” So how is it that you leave on any given day thinking “wtf am I doing?” only to have a beer/glass of something x 5, share the war stories with your buddies and wake up the next morning raring to go. “Let me at ‘em…watch out city…here I come!” Even after twenty years in the industry, I still get that feeling, and that is what I love about recruitment.
Clearly the industry evolves, and yet other habits die hard. One thing we can all be sure of though is the rate of change in any industry is only going to speed up. Next week I’ll let my brain wander a little bit and predict the top 5 changes that are coming our way. In the meantime, what habits have you seen remain since yesteryear?