Recruiters: One Ugly Question That Can Save Your Life

True story. Pete is a dear friend of mine. After eight years in recruitment, has decided that he’s had enough.

He’s had enough of the hours.

He’s had enough of the chasing.

He’s had enough of the competition.

So Pete (yes, let’s call him ‘Pete’) is becoming an author. No, he’s not writing about recruitment. Or CVs. Or interview techniques. He’s writing a book about travelling. Vietnam, to be precise.

“Pete,” I stutter, still trying to making sense of it all. “You’re a top recruiter. Everyone, especially your clients, think the world of you. You’ve chalked up more achievements and awards at your firm than anyone!”

Pete smooths his mocha’s cream with the bottom of his spoon, his expression completely empty. “Well, uh...I didn’t really ever like recruiting. And to tell you the truth, I don’t really know why I went into this business in the first place.”

Dear readers, I can tell exactly you why our friend Pete spent eight precious years in recruiting. Pete’s father happens to be one of the industry icons from the 80’s. It doesn’t take a Freud to work out what went on there.

Several days later, as part of filming our Innovate CV TV career advice interviews, we spoke to marketing and advertising extraordinaire, David Roth (CEO of advertising massive firm WPP's The Store). We asked David what he thought the first and foremost piece of advice he would offer those thinking about a career in marketing.

“Do you really want to get into marketing?”

Now David’s answer, I’ll admit, didn’t initially strike me as...well, enlightening. But it only took a moment, given the context of my recent conversation with Pete, to appreciate this pearl of wisdom.

Until now, Pete, he had been running on the thrill of achievement and success. But honour and glory (and all the glittery things that go with it) can carry a person only so far. And after eight years, Pete had reached a point where he didn’t know why he was getting out of bed in the morning.

I have been blessed to meet some remarkable personalities in our industry. One 29 year industry veteran, his face alight with enthusiasm, bellowed: “Do you realise how we change people’s lives? Their families? How we change the companies that we send our clients to? Do you understand that what we do as an industry has a material effect on the local and global economy! We’re transforming the world!”

This man has thrived for 29 years in this industry because he not only believes his words; but he breaths them.

There’s just too much work and stress in recruitment. Without a passionate appreciation for the human side of the industry, you won’t survive, let alone thrive.

If only Pete asked himself all those years ago, “ you really want to get into recruitment?”

Views: 331

Comment by Debbie Ruston-TheSuccessEducator on August 4, 2010 at 11:37am
Excellent article! This holds true in any career path one chooses to follow. It could be working as an employee, or running your own business....if you are not passionate about what you do and have a sense of purpose for jumping out of bed every morning, every day will seem like a lifetime. When you are following your true passion, something that absolutely makes your heart sing, every day is a joy and it never feels like work....I encourage anyone reading this post of Adam's to sit down in a quiet spot and really get authentic with yourself.....take inventory of what you are currently doing and why you are doing it. If it is not out of passion and joy, then it is time to search within, find out what truly makes you feel fulfilled and take a bold step to create the life you want. It is simply a choice to step outside of fear, limiting beliefs and past conditioning, to create the life you do want to be living. Well done to Pete for following his dreams!
Comment by Peter Legge-Wilkinson on August 5, 2010 at 1:06am
What a great article. I can really empathise with Pete given I have migrated from contracting into recruiting through the back door. I often ask myself this question! I can honestly say I enjoy meeting people (mostly) and placing candidates but I hate dealing with idiots (if you know what I mean)! I love the freedom that this job gives me. I'm still finding my way through the woods and this article is very thought provoking.
Comment by Mitch Sullivan on August 5, 2010 at 3:07am
The guy who said that recruiters are "transforming the world" is talking utter nonsense.

I mean seriously, if recruiters are running around believing this sort of crap in order that they can look at themselves in the mirror every day, then it's little wonder the industry has the kind of macho-driven sales culture that annoys the majority of people that come into contact with it.
Comment by Navid Sabetian on August 5, 2010 at 4:19am
One of the main problems with this industry and one of the main reasons people give up on it is money.

Some people are lured into this profession thinking its the fastest way to the riches and that it's one of those work hard drink hard fun things to do. What could possibly go wrong?

People don't realize that there is a price tag attached to this fancy feast and unless they are happy to pay it they will sooner or later are going to be out.

I go by the belief that I use all my knowledge, education and experience to help those clients and candidates who choose to work with me to improve, get better, make more money or get a better job or increase their production/profitability.

Does what I do revolutionizes the human race and how we do things? Who knows

Does it help those who choose to work with me to improve on their situation? Hell yeah

In the end money is just a bi-product of me helping a company hire better people and become more competitive.
Comment by Charles Van Heerden on August 5, 2010 at 6:19am
I had lunch today with an ex-recruiter and he told me that got out of it as just became too transactional. Even though he had a good list of clients, his business reduced by 50% during the GFC as his clients had a recruitment freeze. He branched out into leadership coaching and has not looked back.

He summarized his experience as a constant chase - after a while (20 odd years) it just became too exhausting and he is now enjoying more work/life balance. Some would say he has earned it!
Comment by Dina Harding on August 6, 2010 at 12:53am
A nice read, Adam! I agree completely with @Debbie 's comments, and appreciate her detailed elaboration on being authentic with yourself, pursuing passion, embracing change, facing fear and moving forward. When we do that, growth and enlightenment occur, leading to fulfillment and greater happiness. I will add that, above all else, the 'human element' is THE most important piece in this profession (the same as it is with almost every other facet of what we all do in life). It's really all about people serving people. Thanks again for sharing this with us, Adam :D
Comment by JR Fent on August 6, 2010 at 1:55pm
Adam, I hate to be the critic in the mix, but I really didn't like your article. I found it hard to read and really didn't feel that you drove your point home very well.

Do I believe you have to be passionate about your work to be an excellent recruiter? Certainly. But that's the case for any profession. Are we doing it to change the World? "NO!" In fact, "HELL NO!" This is not about locking arms and singing frickin' "cum-bay-ya". Reality check - we do a really tough job and if your personal motivators are not first on your list - you will fail and be miserable while you're on your way out.

You can still do your job with integrity and honesty - but have realistic reasons for doing the hard things we do. Our personal goals have to be big so that we overcome the challenges.

Create a recruiting profession that allows you to live the life you want, have the things you'd like to have, and provide for your family in a way that you're proud of. Protect you stature and profession by having a high level of integrity and follow-through. Then be genuine and compassionate.

Past that - Thanks for trying. Keep writing! But find someone to debate your points with you before you post. You can have a pretty interesting debate and get feedback before someone like me (or Mitch Sullivan) gives you grief. Cheers man!
Comment by 01. Lonnie McRorey on September 6, 2010 at 6:07pm
@Mitch Sullivan- Totally agree - Everything makes an impact. Sounds to me that this article was carefully written to render a higher topic response rate. Nice marketing practice..LOL
Comment by Adam Lewis on January 2, 2011 at 4:59am

Apologies to everyone for not replying sooner! I usually get emails when there are replies to any of my blog posts.


Mitch, you need to take this veteran's comments in perspective. While he's not pretending that recruiters are finding the cure to cancer, he is making a point that recruiters make a significant impact in orgs that do
change the world.


And of course, recruiters impact individuals in ways that need no explanation.


I applaud his enthusiasm. And given how fashionable it is to be cynical today, his views are wonderfully refreshing. Good for him, his employers, clients and candidates.

Comment by Adam Lewis on January 2, 2011 at 5:01am
JR Fent - you disagree? I'm glad you voiced your opinion! That's what blogging is all about. Great, isn't it?


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