Two separate statements really, but both interlinked at the same time. When I say there is no room in recruitment for politicians, I am of course talking about the constant truth bending, fact twisting, misleading and underhanded nature of a massive proportion of our top, duly elected delegates…
Does it come down to out and out lies, perhaps sometimes, but generally it comes down to sales, the bending of the truth and trying to word things differently so they come across with a different meaning, unfortunately a lot of this happens in recruitment too. Yes of course there is an element of sales in what we do, always has been , always will be but not the type of sales you get from Bob, the used car salesman on the corner of 8th and Mary street…
As for politics, we may have to deal with some of our own internal politics now and again, and you might have a slightly odd team member who likes having his photo taken in his Speedos on the beach but that’s about as far as it should go!
Truth, honesty, integrity, loyalty, pride and professionalism… These are the absolute pillars of the successful recruitment consultant. Now, of course, success can be measured in many ways… financially seems to be the overall guide to a successful recruiter but is it really just about the money?… I bloody hope not.
Don’t get me wrong I understand all recruiters must pay their way in a business and it’s a huge motivator for many consultants… we are of course in a results driven industry but we also have to be aware that we are in a service industry as well. Can you still get results when offering a mediocre service? Absolutely, but will your business grow and thrive in the manner of the top performers, no and nor should it.
What makes the extraordinary stand out from the ordinary? Is it an educational degree in some ‘out of the box’ business practice or tens of thousands of dollars thrown into psychometric testing of consultants… no of course it’s not. It comes down to the very basics of what we do and applying some very simple rules and beliefs.
Let’s take a couple of examples, let’s start with the candidate and the candidate interview. More often than not these days interviews seem to be getting shorter and shorter and the KPI driven consultants out there just seem to be giving the candidates a quick once over appearance wise, asking the questions which they have formulated from their client and if there is a match, gives a higher enough score based on these questions and the candidate gets sent across to the client.
This is not the work of a professional recruiter, any Tom Dick or Harry can get this type of information from someone, and moreover most of it can probably be gauged from the resume. Our job is to get a full and in depth understanding of the candidate so we can understand not just if they have the qualifications to do the job, but to what quality and times frames they are capable of performing it in, what level of enjoyment they will get and their ability to interact in certain environments and with certain people at different responsibility levels. We can gauge whether this will be a company where they can grow and develop their careers, what level of passion they bring with them and a lot more to boot… Interviewing is an art all of its own, if done properly.
None of the above is new, all recruiters at least should know how and why they interview a candidate for a role, but this is where the politician thing comes into play that we were talking about at beginning.
Even though they haven’t taken the time to really get to understand their candidate, they have the audacity to talk about them as if they have. Talking to the client about their excellent interview skills and how they would be the best person for the job, using lines such as “based on my knowledge of the candidate I believe….”
This is cheap sales talk, no more, no less. The thing with it is that, just like the politicians, people see through it, very easily, and if you behave in this manner your career in recruitment will get shorter and shorter until you drop out…
So does anybody start out this way, are they trained to do a 10-15 minute interview and expected to gather the required knowledge? No, of course not. So how does it get to this point, we all know it’s happening out there, so why?
I’m afraid it comes back to the old enemy of human nature. Once we have been in any job for a while we begin to think we are invincible, as we get more confident at what we do we believe we get better at it, which is probably true, we getter better at things like interviews, because we add to our experience and our skills, but then we drop off the other end of the scale and when we have got to a point where we are really good, we start to cut corners. We cut out the occasional probing question because we don’t believe it necessary; we only ask behavioral questions about the candidates current role rather than the last three. Why even discuss confrontation, we’re talking to the person now, and they seem OK!
We don’t deliberately cut corners but over time it just happens, how do we stop it from happening… ah ha, that is the easy part. Training… simple, basic training, weekly discussions about the everyday aspects of our role - interview skills, client visits, reference checking etc… the thirteen key areas of our job skills should be discussed and practiced time after time in order to keep us at the top of our game.
I have heard comments from principals saying… “I have been doing this job for ten years, I don’t think I need any training and I certainly don’t need a coach”, or “I only employ experienced recruiters”. Maybe that’s true, but running a business is similar to running a sports team, Manchester united are a good football team… a great football team, but they still need to train, they still need a coach… not to learn anything highly technical but to practice the basics.
Darren Lockyer still practices throwing and catching the ball, every day… David Beckham spends hours every week kicking a football through a tyre? They are practicing the basic skills of their chosen profession…
As usual, just a couple of thoughts…