“The devil makes work for idle hands”, or so Edwardian factory owners like to tell us. And judging by the current market, it is not just those involved in steam powered weaving that this applies to. In our industry, there are currently two types of recruiters; those who have more time on their hands than usual, and those who are liars. And as much as we love to boast to our rivals whilst doing the Queen Street Shuffle, our diaries have gone from a solid Cheddar to a holey Emmental . At first we were fine. We could fill those gaps with some positive and productive work; supporting candidates who were feeling nervous. Supporting clients who were feeling nervous. Supporting the dog who was feeling nervous. Just feeling nervous generally. But by day 100 (today!) in the Big Brother House, I see that things are slowly starting to change. That little mischievous and disruptive toad that we all carry in our psyche is slowly rearing its slimy head. And like children, when we’re bored or have little to do, we’re being naughty.

This is something I feel qualified to comment on, as I’m one of the worst offenders going. A couple of weeks ago, after a couple of sherbets on a slow Friday afternoon, I publicly called out some right-wing anti-abortionist on LinkedIn. The result? Angry complaints to “my manager” and a annoyed anti-abortionist ringing me to call me a “f*cking progressive c*nt”. Ah! The fun we have here at Rice. Would I have had the inclination to do this pre-Covid? Absolutely. Would I have had the time? Doubtful. And if I look at my LinkedIn Inbox, it is absolutely chock-a with nonsense. That’s not to say I wasn’t getting a fair bit previously, but with nothing else to do except develop business, I’m inundated with the sublime to the ridiculous. From overseas candidates telling me that they are available for an “immediate start”, to attractive robots telling me my website is shite, my mailbox has become a litter tray. Scott blogged last week about LinkedIn launching a new “stories” feature. This product was probably a few years in the making, but they couldn’t have picked a better time to release it. LinkedIn is full of members with fuck-all to do right now, and this will be the perfect tool to while away the hours, convincing both yourself and your boss that you’re “working”. Cisco have already shown what bored millennials can do if “encouraged” by their “zany” new bosses to make a TikTok video. Dig it out if you want to see a bunch of 22 year olds aggressively defend their virginity via the medium of lip sync. I’d share the link, but it really is just too horrible.

Our behaviours when trying to be productive are also achieving the opposite. Speaking to my clients has actually been harder than ever, as I’m lost in the white-noise of every other supplier and potential supplier “touching base” with them. Every Recruiter calling every Internal Recruitment Manager every week does not make said Manager want to talk to any of us. It makes us very annoying.

And like most of my blogs, there are more questions than answers. I’d love to say there is something else we should be doing. Something that adds value to our clients. Something that helps candidates. And something that makes us feel nourished as professionals. I feel than in the most part, we’ve exhausted these avenues and we’re now treading water whilst the market slowly wakes up. Our sister business JOYN sits on a tech platform, and lockdown has been a fantastic opportunity to re-think, re-design, and rebuild this product. It’s been incredibly satisfying to see it take shape so quickly without the distraction of Business As Usual. However, this is in stark contrast to what you can achieve when your “product” is people. If we’re not recruiting, what are we doing?

Simply put, recruiters are at their best when busy. For every time we drop the ball by taking on too much, we do a heap of a lot of cool stuff in the meantime. Much is made of recruiters not returning calls or responding to applications. I will not defend this behaviour, as I could do without the LinkedIn lynching today, but this is usually a byproduct of a recruiter being busy, not them being poorly raised by a single mum. When we’re busy, we’re finding people good jobs, we’re having one beer at lunch and not five, and importantly, we are not hounding prospective clients looking for roles to fill.  We’re not arguing on LinkedIn, we’re not making silly videos, we’re not sending deranged InMails. We’re filling jobs, which is what God/Allah/The Flying Spaghetti Monster put us on this planet to do. Hopefully we’ll be back there soon enough.

Have a great weekend, and don’t drink and post.

^SW

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