I have a friend (well more than one actually, but lets not stray from the point early on). He’s very successful in his position as a CTO for a large corporate, gets paid a handsome sum for his efforts, manages a large team and has even won a national award for being super amazing. On face value it’s all rather depressingly perfect.
There is one drawback – he deals with technology (well and travels a lot – but again lets remain ‘on point’…). In short Technology does weird, sometimes unfathomable things, it stops working randomly, gets hacked, gets misused (or not used at all) and constantly gets updated, tweaked and changed. For any of us that have grappled with the inexplicably sudden and frustrating death of a PC (at a critical moment) – you’ll know what I mean.
What has all of this got to do with recruitment I hear you ask?
Well the first thing I pondered when writing this blog was – is recruitment a respectable career to embark on? What would your mum, dad, aunt, second cousin removed say if you told them you’d just started a career in recruitment? If you had just landed a job as an IT / Finance / Legal Consultant – would their reaction be any different? Would they be more proud? Do we care??!
I’ve spent 15 years – most of my professional career – in recruitment and it has been a fascinating (often challenging) experience. Starting my career in the world of R2R (placing recruiters – for those uninitiated in the acronym) I’ve met 100s of recruiters, met numerous recruitment agencies and their owners, and seen the full spectrum this industry has to offer. And do you know what? Its an amazing industry!
In November 2014 the recruitment sector turned over £28.7bn (allegedly larger than the UK Electronics industry for a comparison). Last year we helped 630,000 permanent employees find new work and at any given day over 1.15m people were working on a contract or temporary assignment secured by a recruitment agency. Sadly not all of these placements were via Oasis HR…!
On the whole recruitment agencies are highly commercial, proactive places to work that give a fantastic grounding in the world of business. For an individual it tests and challenges you to become more proficient in every aspect of business (indeed arguably more so than many other careers).
But perhaps the most important aspect (and often forgotten in a plethora of adverts espousing super earnings) is that you are an incredible avenue for talent to progress their careers. You genuinely help people get better jobs. Not many people can say that to their nan, aunt, <insert important person>.
When you’ve successfully placed that person who was super unhappy in their last role it is a genuinely fulfilling experience in both regards of candidate and client feedback (especially when the ‘thank you’ chocolates / wine arrive unexpectedly) – in short a key reason why many recruiters love their job (helping people as opposed to consuming the gratuity alcohol I should perhaps qualify).
The second thing I pondered was, is Recruitment a challenging career intellectually? Does it require a massive brain to be successful? An IT Director has lots of amazingly detailed and technical things to learn – what do we have?
Quite simply put – we have people.
We deal with the most complicated piece of technology ever created. You. And to complicate matters we have it on both sides – candidates and clients.
You’ve heard the saying ‘animals do the funniest things…’? Well trust me our over-published, grumpy faced, youtube posing, feline friends – you’ve not got a patch on us!
We do the whole unfathomable, random, defy-logic kinda thing quite regularly and in my experience a successful career in recruitment is massively dependant on your ability to grasp and understand the concept of emotional intelligence. After all, it’s all about people.
A study by hiring software provider Cangrade revealed that being intellectually stimulated is the most important aspect of an employee’s job satisfaction (above money, work-life balance, achievement, friendship and others). What an amazing finding.
I think it’s safe to say that nobody totally understands the human psyche (in the absence of Minority Report style interview technology!). Given the absence of each person coming equipped with their own ‘user manual’ – the job of a recruiter is to seek to understand, empathise, challenge and guide.
This involves trust.
It involves a genuine desire to help and be driven by something other than just commercial gain.
In turn it is very true that this may lead to success being represented by increased earnings. But in my humble opinion the proverbial horse (understanding people) comes before the cart (financial reward) and the best recruiters I’ve met over the years consistently strive to learn and understand. Their values are firmly NOT about just selling in some desperate imitation of a ‘Wolf of Wall street’ parody.
To summarise, the world of Recruitment Consultancy is a hugely fulfilling career to embark on – if you have the right strengths. And with that in mind a final note of caution to prospective entrants to the recruitment industry:
It’s a hard job. If you struggle interacting with people, learning and taking on board new information quickly as well as lack a genuine intrigue into the commercial world – please choose something else!
Recruitment can be frustrating. There are massive pressures on your time. It can be despairing. People will let you down. Regularly.
But when you get it right. And it all comes together. It is quite simply, the best feeling in the world.