Recruitment… Champagne or Razor Blades…

I was going to entitle this post Why Recruitment is like the Titanic… but I didn’t.  However, sometimes you do really feel like DiCaprio – you remember, the king of the world scene - standing on the bow of the ill-fated liner, fists pumped and happier than a pig in you know what.  But in the recruitment world you are always only one submerged iceberg away from disaster… in hindsight Why Recruitment is like the Titanic would have probably been a far more apt and accurate title…

I’m going to let you in on a little secret… the reason I didn’t go with the Titanic title is because I can’t stand Leonardo  DiCaprio… or Kate Winslet for that matter.  I mean apart from The Basketball Diaries, Romeo + Juliet, The Beach, The Departed and Shutter Island his resume is pretty awful. And Kate Winslet… well the less said about her body of work the better… Finding Neverland for instance stunk like six day old salmon in the sun…

But let’s get back to the topic at hand! Seriously, is there an occupation on the planet that saps more of your energy on a daily basis?  Frustrates you more than your ex-wife’s mother?! Or, takes you to dizzying heights of euphoria and the harrowing lows of despair – all within a 24 hour period?!?  No my friends, the world of recruitment is nothing if not unpredictable, rewarding and punishing – all at the same time…

There’s the magic placement that comes out of absolutely nowhere, the candidate that accepts the perfect new role you found them only to come back to you the next day to sheepishly inform you they have accepted a counter-offer, the perfect match where the whole process is completed in a couple of frantic days, or the placement that falls over within the guarantee period despite your heroic and fruitless efforts.

Recruitment is not a career for the feint-hearted, the risks are great, but the rewards can be greater!

Here’s an example of the recruitment roller coaster that happened in our office last month… Obviously, I am shortening the process, leaving out the boring bits for the purpose of keeping the narrative flowing blah, blah, blah, but I hope it makes sense…

‘Ring, Ring’… (That is an improvised sound effect for the telephone – I should have used my actual mobile phone ring tone…’Dark in the city night is a wire, Steam in the subway earth is afire do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do…’ but I wasn’t sure how many of you would recognise Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf, and I was a little afraid if you did, you may judge me…harshly…)

‘Hello Craig here.’

‘Hi Craig, Simon Le Bon here from ABC Recruitment. We had a great meeting with ‘Nick’ today, we really see him adding value to the team…’ This was the third meeting over two weeks. I was getting that feeling – you know the one. The one where you know the placement is going to happen…starts in your stomach and spreads… ‘We just want him to come back tomorrow for a rubber stamp meeting with the MD.  Ultimately the call is mine.  The refs you sent were great and I’ll be offering tomorrow.’

As you can imagine I got off the phone very excited.  I confirmed the time with the candidate.  Told him he was getting an offer tomorrow, trial closed him and all was good with the world…

Until the following day…

Nick texted me five (that’s right 5) minutes before the meeting informing me there had been an emergency and he wasn’t going to make it to the meeting. Needless to say I tried calling him immediately and couldn’t get through (I am unsure of his ring tone, but I imagine it is something like Denis Leary’s – I’m An Asshole).  I called the client to placate them – Simon Le Bon was very good about it and asked me to pass on my support to Nick.  I then texted Nick and asked him in the nicest possible way to elaborate on his emergency.  30 seconds later my phone ‘chirped’. It was a photo from Nick of a fire engine…

I replied, via text of course, ‘Was there a fire?’

30 seconds later…‘My house burnt down…’ This left me stunned to say the least. 

To cut a long story short we couldn’t get on to Nick for almost a week.  When we did he told us that his mother was going into have surgery in the following week and he needed to be there for her and to look after her dog and didn’t have time for an interview until after she recovered. Yes, (before you ask), I did ask him if he could attend the meeting before his mother went into surgery – Nick said ‘No.’ I informed him that the client may have reservations about lengthening the process and Nick told me that if that was the case he would have to ‘Walk away…’

In the end the client told me they were willing to wait, but in the interim I also found out from someone within Nick’s current company that he had in fact accepted a counter offer, there was no house fire and I suspect his mother was never really having surgery, or spending any time at all away from her beloved dog – not even one day…

My advice to you is that Recruitment will test you every day – so be prepared…  Someone once described recruitment to me as a daily dose of Champagne or Razor Blades. You don’t know what any given day will bring – it’s what attracts us to the industry, what keeps us engaged, and ultimately what drives some people away.

I remember when I first ‘fell’ into recruitment one of the questions I was asked during my interview was ‘Do you like roller coasters?’ 

At the time I thought ‘What a stupid effing question, everyone loves roller coasters…’ But I think I said something like, ‘I love roller coasters – the faster the better – and if you throw in a couple of loops I could ride one for hours…’

I remember the guy interviewing me sat back in the chair, brought his hands together, placed them over his rather ample tummy and smiled smugly….

Perhaps, what he should have asked me was ‘Would you like to continually ride a roller coaster non-stop for the next 18 years?’

I may have returned serve with my own question… ‘What, even while I am sleeping?’

And I can see him now, sitting back in his chair, bringing his hands together, placing them on his ample tummy and nodding almost imperceptibly – as a smug smile spreads across his face…

Craig Watson

Views: 2984

Comment by Tim Spagnola on April 26, 2012 at 9:43am

Love this post Craig as much as I love the 'Magic Placement'. It is so true that the world of recruiting is a daily test. Also why it is not for everyone. It is such a fluid process when dealing with people. For some of us that is the real excitement. I really enjoyed reading this, but must add that I'm saddened to hear of your dislike of Ms. Winslet. ; )

Comment by Linda Parsons on April 26, 2012 at 10:25am

Brilliant article. Especially as I feel like I'm on a rollercoaster with a packet of razor blades this week!


Comment by Sue Orr on April 26, 2012 at 11:05am

I love roller coasters.  That must be why I love recruiting as well.

Comment by Cindy Cremona, CPC on April 26, 2012 at 2:04pm

Love this - the honesty/raw humor almost more than the content.

Comment by Candace Nault on April 26, 2012 at 6:39pm

Nailed it perfectly...great post!

Comment by Craig Watson on April 29, 2012 at 6:27am

Thanks for the kind words folks!!  And Tim - don't be too concerned - Kate Winslet is still young enough to win me over... eventually... maybe...


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