As recruiters, we are more than familiar with first days. Our BD call masquerading as a start check lets us share in a candidates Bambi like first steps. What I tend to tell people is that their first day will be unlike any other day you have, it’s usually fraught with health and safety tutorials complemented by a quick visit to an evacuation point. As a rule, the bigger the company the more arduous the H&S onboarding, if you’ve been lifting a box incorrectly your entire life I would prepare for a rude awakening. I tend to do my start check at lunch or closer to the end of the day as asking someone how’s the new job going at 9:01 am with their new manager standing over them will result in a very inauthentic response. Other than that, I let them know to not be a stranger and like Forrest Gump when his son from The 6th Sense gets on the school bus for his first day, try to fight back the proud tears. What I don’t do is send potentially anxious consultant satirical guidelines on how to impress on your first day.
In a recently removed article UK recruiter Reed was left with egg on its face after, what I can only pray, was a tongue in cheek post possibly aimed to lighten the mood on a candidate’s first day. The ironically titled “Five ways to Impress on your first day” was lampooned online with some Twitter users pointing out that if followed to the letter would result in a sacking! Firstly, and staggeringly the first commandment is in direct contrast to what I tell candidates throughout the process “Don’t be yourself” on the face of it, it’s a little condescending especially when they say “OK, so we’re sure you’re a very nice person” you may think it is sarcastic and it actually means to be yourself. In fact, it’s kind of a good point, horrendously made. They really should have just said; don’t be over the top friendly
If we give them the benefit of the doubt and assume this is some of that good old fashion dry English wit meant to poke fun at the conventional advice given then it’s understandable. The problem with that is, how does the candidate know that? And if we are to assume the advice is to be taken sarcastically, being the theme of the article, it goes on to give some pretty contradictory advice. “Use your initiative” Are we to assume that you aren’t to use your initiative? Funny enough, the advice given is in line with what my consultants are paid to do however if you are some non-descript employee following this advice you will 100% be the talk of the office.
This next nugget of advice would be bang on if you are starting a job at Scott Burnett Inc as my PA “laugh at everything” flattery can get you pretty far as anyone who has forged a relationship with a lunch lady in order to get more chips will tell you. I wouldn’t, however, advise that slapping your leg and wiping away tears is going to get you anywhere except possibly sectioned when some poor schlub mistakenly jokes “back are you?” on your second day.
Take a look here to see the remaining points. The post concludes with more puzzling insights including buying everyone in the office lunch, making drinks and in a move that almost convinces me that they are intentionally torpedoing someones first day – “invent a catchphrase and add everyone you meet on Facebook” I’m still a little on the fence, Reed is a well-respected agency and having met alumni in this market I can say they produce competent and professional consultants. They were probably cracking up in the marketing department putting this together. I imagine a level headed consultant nervously piping up with some slight concerns about how much of the mark this hit only to be shouted down by a chorus of self-assured consultants earning him the likely title killjoy. There is a bit of a warning at the end which hints to it all being a big joke and to “play it safe” look at another article but it’s a bit too little too late. It reminds me of an equally tone-deaf post our very own NZ police put out a couple of years ago. Consider the subject matter, the audience and then if there is room for humor. A candidate who is wracked with nerves is probably going to miss the subtilty humor that whipped your co-workers into a frenzy.