Spotlight article for Syntax Media
So, my Granddad was a boxer and as you can see from his picture he’s as handsome as his grandson! When everybody else was sent off to fight in the ‘Second World War’ he was sent to the ring. He’d fight in exhibition matches to entertain the soldiers and sometimes would have multiple fights in a single day. The story goes that when Randolph Turpin was about to turn professional, my Granddad late into his career fought him and would later become the only person in Randolph’s career to put him on the canvas. Needless to say Randolph, the teenager, went on to beat the Journeyman that was John Smith, my Granddad and it wasn’t long before he became one of the greatest boxing champions the world has ever seen.
So what’s the point of this little foray into my family history! Well working in recruitment is metaphorically a lot like going into the ring with Randolph or my Granddad. You’re not taking punches, but you’re taking a lot of emotional and psychological hits every day. When the hits come and believe me they come, you’ve got to get right back up and keep on going, and it never stops.
Often recruitment is very misunderstood by hiring managers. Just because you recruit in engineering doesn’t make you an engineer. The reality is that you definitely don’t need to be either. In this competitive market finding the candidates is only a small part of the overall challenge.
Understanding the client brief is important and getting underneath the skin of what’s required is important, however nothing a bit of research and a few calls with candidates can’t rectify. The real art is inspiring talent and that’s all about communication.
The best recruiters in my opinion are resilient, intuitive, creative, and they can sell! Not hard door knocking sales, but the ‘Covey’ type of sales. They ‘seek first to understand…’, continually ‘sharpen the saw’ and are always thinking ‘win-win’.
The best recruiters use a ‘Common Language’ have ‘Active Listening Skills’ and use ‘Reflective Statements’.
They get to the real heart of what matters to a candidate and build a level of trust and respect that allows them to get beyond a transactional relationship to something meaningful and impactful.
Recruitment is all about communication and getting a candidate, in this very competitive environment, excited about an opportunity.
The challenge and the reason why you sometimes feel like you’re in the boxing ring taking hits, is that you’re dealing with people and people do the strangest of things.
So here are the 12 rounds of recruitment nightmares:
- The Hiring Manager briefs you but they don’t really understand the role or what they want themselves. You’ll throw a lot of punches and none of them seem to hit the mark!
- You’ve got the best knockout candidate and you’ve sold them the dream, but the role gets put on hold and the candidate leaves the ring.
- You’ve sent the Hiring Manager a ‘champion’ but they want to see a few more rounds before making a decision. By the time they make their decision the world already knows who they are.
- You’re managing up to 100 candidates at any one time and each conversation has to be meaningful and impactful and all the best interactions happen in the evening. Day and night can become one and impact on your performance and personal life.
- No matter how hard you workout and no matter how much energy you put into your performance, you’re always remembered for the last fight and when you’ve lost it can be tough getting back into the recruitment ring.
- You have an up and coming champ who’ll be great for the company, but the hiring manager can’t see beyond a journeyman.
- Your champ wants £40,000 and has been clear about that from the start. The client offers £39,000 and won’t budge. The fights over before it’s even started!
- You’ve moved heaven and earth to attract a passive champ in a niche market to speak to a hiring manager. The hiring manager forgets to sell the opportunity, so the candidate thinks you’ve put them in the ring with an amateur.
- Your champ is a no show! They had a car crash, hurt their fingernail, went to the wrong side of the world, were bitten by a dog, abducted by aliens etc… You have to do a statement to that effect knowing it will drop like a sack of spuds in the hiring manager’s inbox!
- You’re working hard to find the next big thing for a specific role, only to find out some recruitment companies who are not employed to work on the project have already started speaking to candidates about it! Messy situation that requires lots of blood, sweat and tears for all involved.
- Groundhog day; every round feels like the one before and just as your coming to the end of the fight, somebody tells you your back to round one again. Candidates drop out, hiring managers make mistakes, vacancies are pulled and job specs are changed. It’s never ending.
- You’re at the top of your game, you’re in fine shape and yet you still have to prove yourself every day. Each hiring manager wants to see you in action before trusting you’re the real deal. If you stop moving your feet, you’ll be knocked right out, just at the point you thought you’d take the win!
Theo’s View Of Recruitment
So what goes on behind the scenes, the level of training, hard work and commitment that goes into finding and inspiring talent, is often misunderstood or ignored. Hiring managers the world over just want their candidate and they want them now. That’s understandable; we are all under a lot of pressure to perform at our peak. For managers of people, they need the right team to work with them to help them achieve greatness, so naturally that pressure will come the way of the recruiter.
This may all seem very painful and why would anybody want to put themselves through such a horrible day to day existence?
Because, it’s exhilarating, ever changing, technology driven and demands a lot of energy and enthusiasm. It allows you to positively impact on people’s lives, you’re able to influence change and improve the chances of organisational success.
But more than anything else you get to work with people from a huge variety of backgrounds. You have the opportunity to hear their story and to understand their greatest achievements and most personal ambitions. When it’s good, it’s absolutely fabulous. Each day is a hurdle to be jumped and you have the opportunity to keep your finger to the pulse.
A friend of mine who’s a QS (Quantity Surveyor) once told me he was phoned by a recruiter and she knew more about his job and what was going on in the industry than he could ever know. This recruiter wasn’t a QS, but she spoke to them on a daily basis and she was able to capture huge amounts of information from a wide source of people. This makes recruiters knowledgeable and a great friend to have in your industry networks.
So if you’re inquisitive, personable and creative, then there is no better place for you to be. The best thing of all is if you’re lucky you also get to work with like minded people and that makes for a great place to work and live.
I no longer do the day to day recruitment of candidates, but I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to think more strategically about how social media can facilitate and positively impact the recruitment process. But I still have the privilege of managing and leading teams that do.
Recruitment is a tough game and sometimes you just want the day to end. But let’s face it, my Granddad had to really earn a living literally fighting to put food on the table, so my pacifist Nan, would you believe it, and their kids could have enough to survive on.
He really did go the 12 rounds so I didn’t have to. Recruitment won’t save lives and won’t take lives, but it sure can be a lot of fun and don’t underestimate the truly positive difference it can make to both people’s lives and to the success of organisations!