There’s lots of chatter about recruiters on LinkedIn. Most of it from outside the industry is damning, and there’s lots of recruiters in full defensive mode. I can’t be arsed to get involved, but a personal perspective may be useful to anybody looking to join recruitment.
I suspect many may be looking to join. They’ll have read about the bouyancy of the sector and seen some beautiful people sharing pictures of shiny new motors. It almost looks glamorous, but don’t be suckered in by the promise of bangles and beads, or a trail of boiled sweets.
I’ve been an engineer, I’ve worked in publishing (for The Economist for 9 years – There! That impressed some of you eh? Don’t be. It was a blast at times, but printing The Economist is pretty similar to printing the Beano). And I was a rat-catcher at Rentokil for a while (I did indoor plants and ladies washrooms as well. Even spent some time travelling the planet like an idiot), so I have a broad view. Nothing is quite as grand as it seems, and life will kick you up the arse if you take it for granted.
And just like other sectors, recruitment has it’s ups and downs. I would only say they’re more extreme in recruitment:
5 Biggest ‘Downs’ in recruitment:
- It’s driven by the economic cycle. That means lots of recruiters who are doing well right now, and feeling fire-proof, will get an almighty shock when the economy slows again. If you’re very good you’ll survive, although it may age you prematurely.
- There’s low barriers of entry. It’s easy to become a recruiter (I didn’t say a good recruiter!). You just need a phone, a laptop and a brain of some sort. So it attracts people looking for a quick buck, and among them will be some idiots. Tread carefully.
- The industry is full of experts. They are looking to make a name and set a trend. If they can attract a crowd, they might just get lucky. But they set hares running and some people follow them. Take ‘Collaborative Recruiting’ for example – second thoughts, DON’T!
- It’s the most complex job I’ve had with people – and I’ve had a few! You have more than one customer (the candidate and the client are both customers) and they have complicated needs and wants, and you have to drag those out of people and bring people together who will mesh. It’s like juggling custard. Don’t underestimate how difficult this is. If you’re not good with people, and you don’t know how to ask direct and meaningful questions, go and become an astronaut.
- Shit happens. All the time. And much of it is shit you couldn’t have planned for (today a candidate didn’t start a new job because she has to race off to Spain ‘cos her Dad’s fallen very ill). You just have to have the absolute cussedness to battle on. Some people will tell you ‘listening’ is the most important attribute. Bollocks. Sometimes you just need to battle for every inch of ground.
But it’s not all Downs. There are some Ups:
- You can earn good money. If you work hard and can pick winners, you’ll do fine.
- When you make something work, it’s a great feeling. Especially when people say ‘thanks’ enthusiastically
- You live on your wits. That can be very rewarding. It keeps you on your toes and fresh minded.
- You’ll meet some really interesting and entertaining people. And some dullards – but you can just ignore them.
- You will learn some life skills. You’ll also need to be very good with technology. This is a great grounding for anything you do after recruitment.
If you’re going to dive into recruitment. Please come in. The water doesn’t stand still, and be careful you don’t settle on sand. Give everybody you meet at least two good glances. Count your fingers every time you shake hands, and don’t give your trust away until it’s earned.
Then stand by the people who have earned that trust. They are in the same water as you, and will sometimes need YOUR support.
See you at the bar. Mine’s a pint.