Working in a recruitment agency: How realistic should videos be?

There's an old recruitment joke that's been doing the rounds for years about a recently deceased HR Manager (insert lawyer, management consultant etc) arriving at the Pearly Gates and being given a tour of Heaven and Hell with a view to choosing where they wish to spend eternity.  Heaven was serene and pleasant but when the HR manager was taken to Hell she found herself stepping onto a beach of fine white sand, with deep blue water lapping at her feet and a bar with gorgeous waiter serving refreshing cocktails. 

Just beyond that she could see a luxury hotel and friendly faces welcoming her, many of them people she knew from her life as an HR consultant. They sat around, reminisced, laughed, swam and then as the bright golden sun disappeared below the horizon they all went into the hotel for an amazing meal. 

She even met Satan who was also very friendly, and not at all like the evil devil she had been led to believe he was. The evening was fabulous with more drink, jokes and dancing. 

The HR Manager tells St Peter that, on consideration, Hell is her choice. She was then ushered into the ‘real' hell and was horrified to find it was awful, nothing like she had been shown on the tour. After complaining to the Devil about this dramatic change of environment, the punch line is "that's because yesterday we were recruiting you, but now you're on the staff." 

This joke came to mind as I read a recent blog by New Zealand recruitment blogger, Jonathan Rice ROBERT HALF'S UTOPIAN RECRUITMENT BUBBLE in which Jon analyses the four minute Robert Half Australia video A Day In the Life of a Robert Half Recruitment Consultant and, superbly concludes ‘It is the utopian view of working as a recruitment consultant. A day of hard-nosed business and deal-closing, framed by runs along pristine beaches and zany co-workers, all fueled with frothy lattes and a well-earned end-of-day wine.'

(Let alone the big unanswered question about the good looking Robert Half video ‘stars', John and Carley, who run along Bondi Beach pre-work and have a drink together after work - are they a couple? Is this the subtle message of the video - work here and find a hot partner?)

Have a look at the video and see what you think. 

Is Jonathan Rice being too harsh? 

Is this all part of the game that any company plays; the game in which the ‘glossy brochure' image of working at said company is simply a sales tool to drive more candidates into the recruitment funnel. Then, once the candidate is ‘captured' in the recruitment process, there is a fair, realistic and thorough face-to-face explanation of what the job really involves. 

I had a quick look to see what other local recruitment agencies produce in the way of a ‘Day in the Life ...' Surprisingly it was hard to find too many other examples Australian-based recruitment agencies producing such videos. 

  • Hays have their generic global video Powering the World of Work which is very glossy and features people who appear to be Hays consultants in an age bracket that would not be regarded as typical in most people's experience of Hays consultants.
  • Madison Group in New Zealand have a much more casual attitude portrayed in their work for us video (with 13 different shots of food and/or drink) which could leave you wondering how much time might be left to do any real work of the type that justifies your salary.
  • Ambition's video promoting their Academy in Australia features fun in the office, consultants jogging and a bunch of existing Ambition consultants talking about their job (if you listen very carefully you may be able to occasionally hear an Ambition consultant who doesn't have an English or Irish accent).
  • Kudos to Michael Page Australia because their work for us video was notable for the absence of consultants in exercise gear, having fun or drinking and I counted at least four Australian accents in their 90 second video. Although, on the down side, there was no explanation of what a consultant actually does each day, just sound bites extolling the virtue of the Michael Page career options and the colleagues that you work with. 

I couldn't find any other Australian examples from my cursory run through a YouTube search. 

One thing that was conspicuous by its absence from all of the videos that I looked at, was the stark reality that setting and achieving activity and results targets is a critical part of being a successful recruitment agency recruiter even though sales-type euphemisms of the ‘work hard, play hard' variety abounded. 

Yes, Virginia, recruitment agency recruitment is a sales job, no matter how you dress it up. If you don't like being held accountable for delivering results then please don't waste our time by applying for a job in our industry. 

One thing that was conspicuous by its presence in the videos was the overwhelming focus on young, pretty and handsome consultants as principal on-screen representatives for each agency (to be fair there was a variation amongst the five in this area, with Madison being least ‘guilty' of this and Hays not too far away). Any person over the age of 35 is sent a clear message, intended or not, that these recruitment agencies are not exactly encouraging your interest or your job application. 

What responsibility do recruitment agencies have to accurately represent a recruitment consultant's job in ‘A day in the Life ...' or ‘Work for us' video? 

You can read Jonathan Rice's view (and the often amusing, reader comments that follow) here

I believe that there is room in these types of videos for a successful recruiter to share the challenges that they experienced when they started as an agency recruiter, how they overcame these challenges (and what help they received from their employer) and the longer term benefits (career and financially) that have accrued to them as a result of their willingness to work hard and overcome the challenges of the job. 

What do you think?


Views: 383

Comment by Linda Ferrante on April 3, 2014 at 1:21pm

I hadn't seen the video or other articles until reading your post and that video sure did take me back to my agency recruiting days!  Although, to be honest, NO ONE had time for a morning run and NO ONE went out to get coffee for the group.  LOL. We were always at our desk recruiting or in an interview.  Candidate lunches were the norm, with client activity reserved for our Account Managers.  

I think the video supports the upper echelon in our office, not the grunts (recruiters).  It did provide a bit of nostalgia for me, but that's it.  I don't miss those days, and wouldn't trade them at this point in my career for anything.  I thought the training was great, and I met some great people whom I'm still friends with today (and I'm still in the industry, 15 years later). 

Overall, I can see where recent grads would be excited about the video.  It's the non-finance grads' wall street, if you will.  There is always the down side, though, which isn't shown in the video.  Not making your numbers, someone quitting (or committing suicide and the client is more focused on replacing the employee, but this person was someone you developed a relationship with, yet you need to put that on the back burner and find the replacement).

Ahhhh....I don't miss those days.....


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