Being someone who specialises in ‘recruiting recruiters’ (that phrase still brings a mixture of confused and curious looks from people) the majority of folk I speak to are, funnily enough, recruiters. Every now and then an ‘outsider’ contacts me wanting to get some advice about getting into recruitment….”I’ve got a few mates that work in it and they love it”; “I’ve dealt with recruiters before and think I would be good at what they do”…. that sort of thing.
Having no experience in recruitment, these ‘outsiders’ are not my ideal candidate; the reality is that most of my clients want someone with recruitment experience. But I always like these conversations – it’s refreshing to not just talk about how much they billed, why they didn’t bill more, why they are entitled to a promotion, or why the last four recruitment jobs didn’t work out!
I had one such conversation this week. One of my clients referred through an IT guy who had been contracting through them for a few years and was interested to explore a career move into recruitment. He was intelligent, personable, obviously knew his IT stuff, had a good network, and seemed to have a good grasp on what recruitment was about….he was also closer to 50 than 21 and probably more likely to be found tucked up in his bed at midnight than partying hard.
During the week I also came across this advert, calling for graduates who wanted to get into recruitment….as long as you ‘are the life of the party’, ‘centre of attention’ and ‘the one that always persuades your mates to turn just one drink into a night to remember’. This is apparently what James Caan (not an insignificant figure in the industry) believes is the DNA of a successful recruiter.
Mr Caan’s would not be alone. In my experience a lot of agencies seek out these young, crazy, party animals for their entry-level recruiter roles. Most wouldn’t look twice at my IT guy. I imagine he would be too old, too long in the tooth and too unable to down 10 tequila shots on a Friday night.
I am not knocking the advert or what it asks for (well, I am a bit!). My point is more that the recruitment industry seems so set on what a rookie recruiter should look like that we are blinded to anything that is a bit different. And when you hear so much about how the future of recruitment is all about the ability to find talent, being a specialist and having credibility you wonder where a 21 year old, borderline alcoholic fits in with this?
Surely we have to be better than this one size fits all approach, and need to seriously start asking what do we really want in our rookie recruiters? If finding hard talent is the key, then wouldn’t someone more akin to a geek who is happy and good at data mining, Boolean searching and all that stuff be better, regardless of what their partying capability is? If you are talking about being credible, then is a young graduate with no experience the best choice to send into the corporate boardroom of your clients to discuss a CFO role? Why is it even important they are a graduate?
We all have our own opinions and preferences about what we look for in a rookie recruiter, and quite rightly it will vary from business to business. But a good place to start would probably be their ability to actually do the job….regardless of how hard they party.