Long Disclaimer: I do not condone any of the stories below, nor do I take responsibility for any of the people involved (I am to fugly to go to jail.) This is a satirical take on some horrible secrets I have seen in Recruitment… Just because I have seen it, doesn’t mean I did it…
Lots of different people, from different places, with different sensibilities view Recruiters in surprisingly different ways. The one thing they can all get on-board with (apparently) is that we generally eat our candidates souls… with a nice bottle of Chianti.
Recruiters usually fall into two categories: Trained and Not Trained.
The funny thing is most of the people with an outside view don’t actually know what the murky world of recruitment looks like. I read a few articles recently about the “secrets” of recruitment, it was very light-hearted, and even I wrote a few blogs recently about how hard our job can actually be. Even my better half (she might read this), sometimes moans that all I seem to do is go to nice restaurants and bars and come back stinking of Alcohol (regret) and Cigars (shame.) Yet she is the first to moan when I answer work calls on my birthday when we are at the theatre… (Hope she doesn’t read this.)
Now I actually want to talk about some things I have seen over the years, I must confess the last 3-4 years have been rather sedate. Perhaps that’s due to me getting older and not hanging around with the young’uns as much. You see there is something about seeing a 18-21 year old getting an extra few grand in their pay packet that suddenly makes them think they are on a footballers wages. Until the last week of the month where they suddenly start skipping lunch everyday, and call in sick 1-2 days before payday…
So lets look at some real dirty secrets of recruitment:
Once upon a time…
One of my first memories of Recruitment was one of my first interviews to get into recruitment… The 2nd question was:
“How much alcohol do you drink on a weekly basis.”
I started out by being vague and saying a few units a week. However the answer they were looking for was a lot. Being 21 that was pretty accurate. However after entering recruitment that probably went up to about 6-7 pints a day.
Alcohol has been and will be a problem in Recruitment for a long time. It’s one of few rare jobs where going out with clients and having drinks is still tolerated, even encouraged (Especially in IT & Finance). It’s like the lesser paid brother of a Broker.
Recruiters aren’t all wealthy, when starting out it usually quite the opposite (Especially trying to keep up in rounds when everyone else is taking home 10k a month.) However they do mix with a lot of people with considerable spare cash. So they do get drunk, often, and usually miss the last train. Having keys to a building with minimal security and used to people coming and going at late hours can be handy.
Now back before Uber the only other option was a black cab (expensive.) So I remember several colleagues (maybe myself… it’s hazy) who slept in the office over night. I even know a few chaps who basically lived in the office all week due to one very large bender…
Probably the worst things I have seen though…
Coming into the office in the morning and finding items of women’s unmentionables in one of the interview rooms… Then said woman arriving the next day to pick them up… She did not work for our company, nor would she say how she came to leave those items in our office.
Walking into the office very early one morning to find a Consultant doing his best Tony Montana impression… It was 7am…
Male Dominated Offices
In some Recruitment sectors it was heavily male dominated. It became very much like a scene from wolf of wall street. Lots of pranks, lots of stress balls being thrown at each others heads, and lots of abuse (bullying.) It was part of the job.
(Side note, I remember helping with an office move at the weekend. So many wires… Anyway whilst we were boxing everything up, moving tables etc. We probably found over 200 stress balls from varying different umbrella companies. I still have stress flashbacks to that first day in the new office… They never saw it coming, it was a massacre.)
So its probably rather pertinent that we just had National Women’s Day. However I recall numerous times that we had to hire a new Receptionist… oh dear lord the Myspace stalking went to new levels.
“Anyone got any fit single female mates who want £17k a year?”
That was pretty much the briefing and the job spec.
The Senior Consultants would be dusting off the Rolex’s and Breitling’s in anticipation and fighting in the halls over who would take her for lunch on her first day. Office Drinks was painful to watch.
If people think that we still don’t have some people that request “Good looking Women” for jobs then you are living on a different planet.
I would say Recruiters should have a better understanding of how hard to working world can be for women compared to men better than most… So if you do get requested to find a buxom blonde for Mr CEO do tell them they are unethical swine. They will probably go elsewhere and find a recruiter who will… But hey do you really want to work with these sorts of people?
Which leads me nicely too…
It happens. Even though HR don’t want it to.
I am lucky to say I have seen 4 Office Relationships end in Marriage. All 3 couples being some of the nicest (any my favourite) people I have met in Recruitment.
However I have seen the murkier side I know at least 3 Consultants (male and female) sleeping with bosses to garner favour and ultimately get promoted well above their ability.
However they are all now at that point where the infamy of how they got to where they are is so well known across the business they are unable to get promoted again. So they are stuck in the Middle Management trap. No doubt they will leave eventually and get ridiculous pay rises and be unable to deliver.
Just remember if you are thinking about this as an option to further your career. If someone high up finds out about this, you, the new person who slept with the boss will be the one fired for “Failing to hit KPI’s.” That’s how they cover this stuff up, especially when the other persons spouse finds the text messages and turns up at the office at 9am questioning the smokers outside about who it was…
One ex-colleague of mine, had a global banking client. One of the biggest accounts you can win in Recruitment. He made a fortune.
There was one small part of it that was so well sewn up he had something like 95% fill rate over a year. I never knew how he his client bought into him so much… Until of course they came down from one of the northern regions of the UK.
So the story came out… Once a year they would come down with a few of the team to meet up with said Recruiter. He would take them on the biggest drinking session possible. Including a night at a London Strip Club, all expensed. Business would usually give him £5,000 for the night. However he would have to pay for all the extra-curricular things they wanted as “They couldn’t get that stuff where they lived.” Then he would put through his monthly food shop receipts to cover these expenses with Admin…
Probably one of the most debaucherous bit of business development I have witnessed.
HR are out to get you
Now it’s very rare in small recruitment firms you will find a HR function. If you do then they are probably about to make a lot of people redundant and purely have them there to do the paperwork.
Now if you do work for one of the big boys, you will have a giant HR function. It would be a sweeping generalisation to say they are all out to get you. So I will say, some of them are not on your side, even if they say they are.
I have witnessed, on numerous occasions, Consultants having issues with Senior Management around Bullying, Commission not paid, Contract breaches etc. This is then reported to HR. However with 30 minutes of the confidential HR discussion you will have the Manager in questions Boss on the phone threatening you.
It happens, too often unfortunately. I actually posted something about this recently and I had a number of other recruiters message me directly and tell me tales of woe around their experience with Recruitment HR.
I am not saying don’t air your grievances, you must. However make sure when you report it you don’t speak to your Bosses personal HR, and make sure everything is in writing.
I am sure on LinkedIn (I hope) there are some other Recruiters who have witnessed/heard similar experiences. Perhaps there are other industries that have the same core of idiots leading the parade. So please feel free to post any similar experience you have had below, and perhaps the best one (that works/lives near me) will be rewarded with a 1/8 full bottle of Port.
Tim Chattaway – Recruiter, Ate a Soul once… tasted like Rhubarb.