Barring some early adolescent fumblings, I don’t think there is anything more frustrating than not being believed. I don’t mean when someone doesn’t believe your lie. That’s almost fun and most certainly deserved. I mean a “sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit” type of frustration, pleading a case to someone who looks at you with doubtful eyes. Recruitment has many challenges, however, after the first few years, most of these become water off a duck’s back. Counter offers, unresponsive clients, errant candidates, failed drug tests, these days – I shit ‘em. However, the challenge that has perpetually stuck in my craw is that of not being believed when your advice is genuine, heartfelt and for, you believe, the good of all parties involved.
Sadly, we as an industry have a sometimes-deserved reputation for shafting anyone in pursuit of that sweet dollar. Ask anyone at a barbecue, and you’ll hear a few tales of great Recruitment Consultants, but also quite a few from people who have been sold down the river by a Recruiter. Sadly, these negative memories and their resulting stories cling onto our consciousness better than great work ever does. This means that like our cousins in real estate and car sales, we struggle to be trusted, even when it’s very important (for the candidates sake) that we are.
Just recently we’ve been confronted by a number of situations which have bought this frustration into sharp focus. We’re a sociable bunch here at Rice Consulting (well, Double Dee has his moments), and we tend to get pretty chummy with most of our candidates. We are lucky in that we genuinely enjoy working with our clients, and only really work with candidates who we respect. It doesn’t mean we need to be your best mate or enjoy listening to the same Nordic GrindCore, but it’s good to have some common ground and a mutual level of respect. Because of this, it really is a jab in the meatbag when we see a candidate making a crappy career decision, even when we try our hardest to advise them otherwise. I’m not claiming that we always get it spot on, as we can be susceptible to the same charming hiring manager as our candidates, but our intent is to always do a good job for the candidate and client. The problem we sometimes have is also the great thing about this job: we get paid a load of money by our clients to find them people. This may be great for the bank balance, but it also removes a heap of credibility when we are trying to advise candidates on their next career move. And this is the perpetual frustration of all sales jobs.
I started my career in the heady world of car sales. The brand I worked for was actually a very desirable one. And in the most part, the chaps I worked with would be driving this brand even if they weren’t selling them. However, when a customer would ask how our latest model compared to the new Audi, you just knew that they were taking our considered answer with a giant’s pinch of salt. No matter how earnest the salesman, the moniker “salesman” removed any true credibility from the advice they could give.
I cannot speak for the entire recruitment industry, however, I know what is true of our business. In the most part, we actively try to reduced our client numbers. In a market that is so candidate short, there is nothing to be gained in having more clients. We sadly struggle to service the ones we have. So what does this mean? Well, it means that if we recruit for a company, we truly believe in the business at that point in time, and can recommend, in good faith, that our candidates explore them as a future employer. However, this is when it becomes difficult…
The stark reality is that there are easily as many crappy agencies out there as there are good ones. And this means that at times, we have candidates who are being courted by both a great brand (and being represented by us) and some other firm of ill-repute (not through us). How is it as Recruiters we can advise, consult, and explain a potential CV catastrophe without sounding like money-hungry pricks? No matter what advice we give, we can feel our candidates thinking “well you would say that, wouldn’t you?”. And this isn’t a criticism of candidates. Be it buying a new car, dealing with a real estate agent, or buying anything of any value, we all carry a massive level of cynicism towards the person selling to us.
Pondering this dilemma has got me thinking on the purpose of what I once thought was a pointless industry. I’m talking the industry known as “Career Coaching”. Let me explain…Once upon a time, I had never seen a profile of a career coach which gave me any confidence that they knew their arse from their elbow. In the most part, and I’m gonna shoot from the hip here, Career Coaches were people who had never found their own career, and, after struggling to pick up another contract, went on a 3 days course and re-branded themselves as “coaches”. Yes, I know, I was an incredibly mean young man. On reflection (and I hope my wife is reading this), I was probably wrong. I think there are mostly certainly too many “coaches” of all variety floating around LinkedIn like a bad fart. However, some actually seem to know their stuff, and have had stellar careers before deciding to pass some knowledge on. And when it comes to having a sympathetic ear to bounce ideas around with, who is totally impartial, then I can see the value in coaching. Perhaps someone who will be blunt with you and tell you that $5k extra on a basic salary is not worth putting up with a knob-head boss. Someone to tell you that you don’t need to accept the first offer presented. That you have value and that you are worth a good job. Yes, I think I’ve come round to the idea.
Of course, next time my candidate suggests they’re turning down a fantastic offer to go on and join P***** & B***** instead, I should point them in the direction of a Career Coach. However…my very recommendation of a particular coach would damage their credibility as an impartial player in the process, and we’d be back to square-one! Stop the world, I want to get off.
Anyway, enough, or maybe too much from me. Have a good Friday everyone. Please take the vaccine when offered.