Recruiting Stars - What's the Reality?

Have you ever been in desperate need of money quickly?  I recall a situation in college when I needed cash fast.  In some of my dad’s parting words as he and my mom dropped me off at college, “Don’t get into anything I can’t get you out of.”  In other words, don’t get into trouble because you will be on your own to work it out.  As the situation unfolded one night, I heard those words echoing in my mind and knew I had to find another resource. 

The details are a bit sketchy -- to protect the innocent of course.

It had something to do with being in an “establishment,” watching a well-known (at the time) college band (I was dating the “hot musician” who was the lead singer & acoustic guitarist) when just after midnight the ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) paid a little visit to the “establishment.”  They quickly made their way to the table where I had been enjoying the evening.  Long story short, I was cited and tried before a judge.  Thus, you can understand the desperation in needing cash quickly in order to retain an attorney.

Knowing I couldn’t ask my parents for help, already working to pay my college expenses with no extra cash and freaking out because I was president of a very visible university organization, what was a girl to do?  

TV, stereo, rowing machine and anything else that was not nailed down was put in my car and off I went to hock it all.  Lacking experience and uncertain as to what to expect, I made a list of five pawn shops in the area.  As I drove to each one, they all appeared the same: shady locations (I'm not talking about trees blocking the sun either), dirty parking lots, unkempt stores and scary looking proprietors.  I walked out each time wondering what in the world I was doing.  Finally, I surrendered.  I pawned it all and obtained just enough money to take care of my legal situation.

Like many people, my perception of pawn shops was very negative.  Often times, people have negative perceptions of recruiting and think it is a not a reputable form of livelihood.  Perception is reality for some people, especially if they’ve never had a real experience with a particular situation or person.

Since perception and reality can both be changed (although not easily), why not do it for the better?  Rick Harrison, owner of a pawn shop in Las Vegas and one of the stars of the History Channel’s number one show Pawn Stars, has done just that.  Harrison knows his industry and represents it well. 

Watching Pawn Stars it’s amazing how Harrison seems to know so much about the items that are brought into his shop.  He is a voracious reader and has been since he was a kid.  He has many interests and a vast knowledge of the pawned items.  As a recruiter, how well do you know the recruiting industry and your specific niche? How do you gain more knowledge?  Do you keep up with current niche market information?  Do you read as much as possible about the recruiting industry and all the changes taking place (at least technologically)?  Do you attend seminars/webinars and other training each year?

Although Harrison is well versed in many items laid before him, when he isn’t certain about the authenticity or value of an item he calls in an “expert” in the subject matter to review and advise.  Do you know the “experts” in the market in which you sell? Who do you call on in the industry when you need advice? Can you recognize the authentic candidates and relate their qualities to your clients?  As for value, do you know what your candidates are worth?  More importantly, do you know your value?

Pimps, gamblers, avid collectors and billionaires are among the clients of the Pawn Stars.  Each utilizes pawning services for various reasons.  Can you name the different sectors of your clients and why they utilize your services?

As for negotiating, Harrison claims he never throws out the first figure.  He doesn’t know what his client thinks of the item’s value. Therefore, if he drops the first amount he feels he is only negotiating with himself.  When a client asks what your fee structure is do you immediately retort with a percentage? Worse yet, do you drop your fees from the get-go for fear of losing the order?  Or do you answer their question with more questions to determine more about the situation and the urgency of the placement? Do you convey with confidence how and why you earn your fees?  You’re increasing the value and profitability of your client’s business by the service and people you provide.  You're enhancing a candidate's career with a better opportunity and higher compensation so they can live life in greater ways. You have knowledge, skill, and expertise and need to be compensated accordingly. Know your value and be proud of your worth!   

So, how's your poker face?  Do ya know when to fold 'em? Opportunities come in varying degrees of profitability which includes no profit.  Pawn Stars make no excuses as to why they’re in business – to make money.  No matter how much they like or want an item, they don’t hesitate to walk away if the deal isn’t right for them.  Knowing and believing in your value makes it easy to walk away from a deal that will shackle or rob you.  Prostituting your services and fees not only leaves you feeling used, cheap and usually overworked but denigrates the recruiting industry.  So keep your clothes on – you’ll make a lot more money. 

Recently on Pawn Stars a man needed a $20K loan. He brought in his extensive Match Box Car collection, valued the same.  (Note to Husband: Jon, please go to the basement and get your Match Box Car collection and track along with my Barbie Dolls and camper.  It's time to cash 'em in baby!) Corey and Rick Harrison explained what happens if the payment is not made in 120 days and attempted to counsel the man on reducing the amount of the loan. Elevate your level of service by consulting. Educate, advise and when necessary redirect your clients and candidates.  It’s your responsibility to do so.  Whether they heed the advice is another matter.

Pawning and headhunting are both age old professions. Rick Harrison is doing a good job improving the perception and reality of the pawning business.  Does your work reflect well on recruiting?  Help keep the perception and the reality of our industry stellar – like the stars we are.


The College Girl and the Establishment Owner were found not guilty. Establishment Owner graciously paid all attorney fees in the end for College Girl and himself. College Girl’s money was then refunded by attorney. College Girl repaid loan, received all items from pawn shop and told her parents the tale.  Years later, College Girl married the “Hot Musician.”  They continue to live happily ever after as Rock & Recruiting Stars.  The end!


Views: 3108

Comment by Stephanie on January 30, 2012 at 2:46pm

I really enjoyed your article, especially since I'm in recruiting and my husband owns a pawn shop (and his favorite TV show is Pawn Stars of course!)

Comment by Candace Nault on January 30, 2012 at 3:32pm

Great post, love the analogies and thoughts behind setting ourselves apart from every other recruiter.  Thanks!

Comment by Tina Guth on January 30, 2012 at 6:05pm

@Stephanie -- Wow you all must have interesting lives with some great stories to tell! Glad you liked the article.

@Candace -- Every profession has people in it who add value or diminish it.  I just want to do the best I can to represent my profession well because I think what we do is valuable.  Set yourself apart in a great way!  Thanks for reading and glad you liked the post.

Comment by Tim Spagnola on February 1, 2012 at 11:24am

As a huge fan of Pawn Stars (not so much Cajun) this post was awesome. Thanks for taking the time Tine to acknowledge my request.

@Stephanie like Tina said I bet you can share some interesting stories about the people you both deal with over dinner ; )

The poker face is so key when it comes to Rick's success and one of those things that I feel recruiters need to learn and adopt over the years once they have more experience. Unfortunately it takes getting burned once or twice to feel more comfortable using your poker face, but as you point out Tina to be successful at your desk you need to know when to fold'em and that applies to candidates and clients.

Comment by Tina Guth on February 1, 2012 at 12:39pm

Tim, I'm glad you liked the post! A recruiter needs to be able to read faces, voices and between the lines.  I agree it does take some experience to know when to walk away from a situation either with a candidate or client and realize there are better things to come. 


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