People say you should never do a sequel, then some smart ass in the back turns around and lists off every great sequel ever made… Godfather Part 2, Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back, Sharknado 2… etc. The list goes on. However usually a sequel is just a bunch of hack writers who have no creativity trying to cash in on the success of the first film, exactly what I am doing to do…

Disclaimer: I am not saying Recruitment is the hardest job in the world, there are tons of jobs that on a physical and mental level are much tougher. I am purely giving those people who just started in the industry (unlucky) or those people who have been stuck in it since faxed contracts a gentle reminder of why we hate our jobs some (most) days.

People buy from People

Usually the second or third “catchphrase” that will ingrain itself upon your already broken soul.

After weeks of your immediate Manager spewing fourth what worked for them back when the Database was an old Intel 486 (For you young’uns it was an old stack PC with a floppy drive. You would usually take your Database with you when you left…) Anyway after you learn “Just get on the f*cking phone” and probably “Cry in the toilet in your own time” this is the next thing you learn.

It would usually come around the time they realised that the laminated script card (Why was it always laminated? Paperless offices didn’t exist yet, did people try and burn them?) they gave you to work from you was not working. So they went to plan B, make you use your own personality. Then if you fail its all your fault, not the script. They will still try and make you work in their style. Just adapt and takes the good bits and drop the bad parts when they are not listening to your calls.

Middle Managers

Whether you work for a big multinational or a small niche recruitment agency at some point some bright spark will be promoted to a Middle Manager role (Or worse they hire from outside.) I have yet to meet a good one.

A Middle Manager is basically the person between the Big Manager and your Team Leader. They act as a buffer. Not sure what they actually buffer though. They don’t bill, they take the information your team leaders collate and then email it to their Boss. That’s about it. In some rare cases they might get involved with telling the Office Manager to order printer toner. If you are someone that has hired before these are the people that Consultants eventually have to go to when you negotiate the standard terms of business;

“Well our standard terms of business are 30%, so if you want to work to 18% I am not authorised to agree that so let me speak to my Director.”

Heard that one before?

Now they need to trot off to Middle Managers office and beg to reduce terms because its the only client that is remotely interested in working with them, and the consultant is convinced they will fill every role. The Middle Manager will then go through a checklist of reasons why you can’t reduce terms. This is why they get paid the big bucks. Their job is to keep their job. So when the Director gets kicked in the nuts for the office not hitting their KPI’s, the Director then kicks the Middle Manager, who then kicks your Team Leader who then kicks you. Which leads me to the 4th saying you will learn “Shit rolls down hill.”

If your manager is not fighting your corner and throws you under the bus every weekly huddle then its probably time to look elsewhere.

Not enough time in the day

After the last blog my old colleague I had drinks with reminded me I had forgotten something (beer has that effect apparently.)

A lot of people think recruitment is 10-12 hour days where we just ring people. Got no jobs, well I am sure HSBC have loads of them, let me call then and get some. Right done that. Now lets get some candidates. Log on to a job board, ring some, send them to HSBC. Job done.

That is the view by some people based on the tripe they post on LinkedIn. Where as the Sales Cycle is a lot longer, a lot more complicated and the work does not end with a placement.

As a new(ish) recruiter you are expected (beaten with a stick unless you do) to be a full 360 recruiter.

  • Every Candidate you speak to… Get leads for new clients/jobs (Recruiters are always angling for information.)
  • Stay on top of your clients… Feedback on CV’s, keeping them warm, even if you have no roles be speaking to them.
  • Referencing… Get those references, make sure you meet them for ID requirements, general admin. Can throw financial checks in here for FS institutions as well… If you have had to do this you know how lengthy screening can be… Some pedantic clown is telling you a bank statement is 1 day short of the 3 months required… Get it again.
  • Hit your KPI targets. Done your financial target for month? Nobody cares, you still need to 80 calls a day, 10 marketing mails a day, 3 client visits, 7 candidate registers, 8 interviews, 4 offers, 2 placements etc… Every week.
  • Manage your candidates. Send feedback, keep speaking to them make sure you know where they are interviewing etc.
  • Write job adverts for every role you have, because your Middle Manager wants the world to see you have loads of jobs for some reason…
  • Chase everything and everyone. I have spent whole days just chasing feedback/candidates/screening/clients/rpo/payments/PO numbers (bloody PO numbers!)
  • Forecasting. Being called by your middle manager 50x a week asking for an updated forecast. Wanting to know if that deal you said had a 1% chance of dropping into this week will drop. Writing spreadsheets to justify the existence of someone who you honestly wish didn’t.

The above is just a few of things you need to do daily. However all have human factors that can stop them from being immediately resolved. They end up going on a list of things you need to do. That list builds up and things get forgotten. It happens, nobody is perfect. Yes it’s a job, and everyone has responsibilities. However if you drop one ball someone is going to be annoyed, and could be the difference between a placement or you getting fired. Which leads me to the 5th phrase “Always be juggling them balls” or “Keep spinning those plates.”

Recruiters who don’t work for the same company as you are inherently evil

For years I was brainwashed into believing every recruiter who does not immediately work for me is a thieving, lying, useless Recruiter who wants to steal your Clients.

In some cases this can be true, however not all. I remember going to Christmas parties in London. You would end up in a Bar and run into another Recruiter Christmas Party. It would deteriorate into a scene from Westside Story. Two Recruiters in colourful suits, posturing, showing off their watches and arguing over who has billed more. It wasn’t hard to jump to the conclusion that the outside recruitment world was horrible and I had got lucky to be working with a bunch of sane people.

I guess it was a way for Management to force you to be competitive, hence increase your billings (Or never leave.) However you end up becoming very introverted about your work and not willing to ask for help or find best practise. You then end up with a list of recruitment firms you will never work for, purely based off other peoples experiences and misgivings. I can list 7 Agencies I would never work, only 3 of them are based off reasons I can remember (Walking out of an interview with an aggresive owner of a very large recruitment firm when I refused to give him a list of my current clients springs to mind.) Another global firm I would never work for (employ 1000’s of staff) purely because I went to a briefing at Credit Suisse 10 years ago and two of their recruiters spent 20 minutes asking dumb questions…

“What would you like your candidates to be wearing at interview?”

“So its a C# Developer role with Credit Derivatives experience at 95k? Would a Grad with Java knowledge be ok?”

Even the Internal Team became exasperated and told them to stop asking questions, which leads me to “There are no dumb questions, just dumb people asking them.”

Remember not every recruiter is a soul eating, vacuous child in a flash suit with a fake Rolex they bought from a chap on the market. You can reach out to people for advice and knowledge sharing and sometimes they will help… If they have time.

If you are new to Recruitment and you have yet to hear any of the above sayings then you are definitely missing out.

Tim Chattaway – Recruiter, being replaced for the Prequel.