Reputation is everything in our industry, it’s the vehicle we use from getting to deal to deal. It can be improved upon or dented until the wheels fall off. To quote, George Washington, Wayne Gretzky, or Marilyn Monroe, depending on the credibility of website you visit “it takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad to lose it all.” Recruiters get a bad rep, as salespeople, we have the cloud of manipulation hanging over us, those outside of the industry have a very hammer and sickle view of anyone who dares to make money off assisting someone with their job search. You would’ve possibly been the recipient of abuse; a frustrated candidate has taken umbrage with the pace you’ve returned to them with bad news. Assuming you’ve been perusing yacht catalogs when not up to your septum in Colombia’s finest. A couple of weeks ago I saw this first hand when a junior recruiter was dragged all the way from the UK to my feed in Auckland. I thought it was a tad harsh and certainly not justification for the global pantsing he was receiving. Alex tended to agree.

Now, if you think recruiters get a bad rep just be thankful, you’re not in rec to rec! The perception that we are the modern-day snake oil salesmen is a stereotype with murky origins. It’s unclear if the bad rep is perpetuated internally as a defense mechanism; “we’re bad, but at least we’re not as bad as…” or if it’s an assumption by outsiders that those that sell the sellers must embody and amplify all the negative traits associated with them. This was brought into clear focus this week when a bit of ill-conceived marketing that played on this stereotype was shot down by rec to recs and clients of rec to recs alike. I don’t want to add to the glorious dogpile which ensued so I won’t be hyperlinking, I also think it was done with zero malice but unfortunately, with the same amount of tact.

If I take a look at the national rec to rec market, although approaches differ my peers are far more accomplished than the requisite needed for the industry itself. If anything, we have to operate with more integrity than the average consultant. Jerry Seinfeld makes a good point, it’s around exes admittedly but the point is valid for what we do. The ‘dark arts’ of sales so to speak are useless against a fellow magician, as mum would say; you can’t kid a kidder. Creating a sense of urgency, inflating a salary, claiming a long queue of employers are clambering for this candidate simply does not wash with my client base. Not only that but the irony of recruiting recruiters is ever-present. Recruitment owners will be aghast at the idea that after receiving a call from their employee I endeavor to place the said candidate in a better paying role with more benefits when they have spent the day overlooking a salesfloor of consultants instructed to do the exact same!

Furthermore, calling a software developer with an exciting new opportunity is met with flattery and not skepticism. “You think my profile is exactly what your client is looking for?? Well Golly that’s awful sweet of you to say!” Whereas a recruiter is well within their right to channel the spirit of the other woman in Dolly Parton’s Jolene, insinuating you’re trying to rip them away from a loving home so you can further bankroll your sick and perverse lifestyle. It’s a matter of perception, if you think recruiters are tools of destruction and chaos then I’m no better than an international arms dealer. However, if you view recruitment as an integral process that adds value then I’m the Red Cross, airdropping much-needed supplies to war-torn principalities.

I do see the humor in it and I’ve even been guilty of a bit of self-deprecation. Its inception recruitment; a dream within a dream. We’re a niche industry where our clients and candidates are one and the same. However, I think the majority of the flack is unwarranted and even contradictory to the facts. But, I’m hopeful and even optimistic that perceptions can change. After all, I’m sure many kiwis this winter would open their arms and warmly greet a double-glazing salesman as if they were a soldier returning home from battle. Now to put down the world’s smallest violin and get back to making dreams come true.

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