Recruiters and the Compendium Conundrum…

At the risk of offending about 97.2% of corporate recruiters in the industry – It’s time I raised what I believe to be a very  important issue.  I’m all about breaking the stereotype, promoting a unique personal brand and offering a point of difference…. It’s hard enough as a recruiter to distinguish yourself from your competitors in a saturated market, and the last time I looked there was no mandatory uniform all recruiters must stringently adhere too with Orwellian conformity…

OK – enough of the gasconading (like that one?) and boring overuse of big words, I guess what I’m asking is… Why the hell do recruiters – almost to a man (or woman), insist on mincing round town with a great, big black compendium that SCREAMS ‘Look at me!!! I’m a Recruiter?’

For crying out loud… our industry has surely reached the stage where we can do without Compendiums.  We are not law enforcers who have to carry a gun, nor are we a Barrister who has to wear a wig, and we sure as hell aren’t the Arsenal Football Club post 2005 –  who seem compelled to forego winning any trophies…

No, we are Recruiters. We should be proud of expressing our individuality to both our clients and candidates…

I’ve heard all of the arguments for Compendiums before:

  • It’s company issued
  • It’s convenient and holds my pad, pen and business cards all in the one place
  • Makes me feel like part of the industry
  • It’s pretty…

Simple facts are, you might as well be wearing a High Visibility Vest printed with the words Hi, I’m a recruiter…  just like that bloke over there… You see, the other one holding a Compendium…. Oh, look there’s another just like me… and another…. Golly, there are quite a lot of us aren’t there?

Clients and candidates are always looking for that point of difference.  Sure, that point of difference probably shouldn’t be as shallow as a visual ‘What’s that you’re carrying in your hand there? Oh it’s a compendium… Is that like standard issue for you recruiters?type of point of difference, but to be honest any way you can differentiate yourself from your competitors in the market has got to be a good thing… right? Well maybe not any way… clearly there are a few things that are totally out of bounds… like… um… offering to drop your fees without dropping your level of service… but I digress.

I’m of the firm belief that a compendium serves no real purpose – simple as that.  All it does is identify you as a recruiter and allows me (the humble rec2rec) to pick you out on a crowded Collins Street and offer to buy you a coffee at Strozzi’s.

So, I hear you ask what are the alternatives? Well here are 3 just for starters.

  1. The Ipad – Or any other tablet device you may favour – after all, I’m not Appleist.

With the advent of cloud technology, social media and the like the ipad is the perfect companion for a client visit…

‘So, what you’re saying Mr. Client is that you want a candidate with 3 years local experience in the BI/DW space at one of the Big 4. Is that right?  As you skillfully search your database right in front of him, show him the summary and immediately email a profile… Who wouldn’t be impressed with that… right?

  1. The Ipad2 – Similar to the ipad, but better. It’s faster, slimmer, sexier, has 2 (count them 2) cameras and comes in 2 (that’s right 2) colours.
  2. The Ipad3Just released – and I hear rumours that it predicts clients’ questions and transmits well composed responses directly to the ear of the recruiter via a microscopic Bluetooth device. Not only that. It also has a built in lie detector for use during candidate interviews… Hmmm… maybe I am an Appleist.

My point is that black compendiums are obsolete, all too common. If we continue to carry them en masse as an industry we risk becoming marked as a cloned army, or, worse still being labeled ‘Dolly – The Recruiter’…

So Recruiters… I say join me in my campaign to ‘Ditch the Compendium’.  Tell your boss you lost it, it was stolen, or just break the zipper.  Believe me you will feel more energetic, experience a sense of lost freedom, and probably increase your billings… caution the author would like to add a disclaimer that there is no anecdotal evidence to suggest that breaking your compendium’s zipper will actually result in increased billings…

As a side note, I wonder if I will be writing a blog imploring recruiters to ditch the Ipad in 10 year’s time? Food for thought…

Craig Watson


11 thoughts on “Recruiters and the Compendium Conundrum…

  1. ross clennett on Reply

    A very good chuckel there, Craig. Not sure whether all those two finger typists out there would realy be able to take notes on an iPad very effectively but certainly the compendium is a very cliched look for recruiters.

    PS I’ll ignore the Arsenal joke….

    1. Craig Watson rec-to-rec on Reply

      Thanks Ross. Rather embarrassingly I was caught out in Collins St with a compendium yesterday… Cries of ‘Fraud!’ followed me all the way into Strozzi!!!! And I’m only getting stuck into Arsenal while I can.. my ‘Blue Boys’ are having a shocker!

      1. Edward Cook on Reply

        Craig, you’re conforming to another stereotype by arranging meetings in Strozzi! All I use (even though I’m not a recruiter) is my iPad with a few very useful apps for note taking, namely: Notability and Evernote and a Griffin Stylus for writing on the iPad with.

  2. Brett Iredale on Reply

    Funny article Craig. Enjoyed a lot.
    I have a lot of clients decking out their teams with iPads as productivity tools and doing a lot more with them than just interview notes.
    Eg real time candidate searching and short listing with the client. Candidate self registration via IPad directly into their recruitment database etc etc.
    As we often say here the Internet is yesterday’s news, it’s all about mobile now. I

  3. Andy Simon on Reply

    Great article Craig, it made me shudder a bit to think fo the fact that in my new job here in Perth I too carry that compendium……..not good really! You are right, you stand out like a sore thumb a bit!

    I-pad is definitely the way forward.

    First time I’ve looked at the blog today, good luck to you and Luke on this, it’s something new and a bit different I reckon.

  4. Rebeccah Meldrum on Reply

    Lol, thanks for the chuckle Craig. It fascinates me that recruiters think they are the only one’s that carry a compendium, especially if they are in the financial precinct of the CBD….. as an ex-insurance chick I can tell you that I could identify as many, if not more, insurance people with compendiums than being the other way around! I love my iPad (and yes agree on the mobile comments and database selling in comments etc etc), I hate that I’m not a touch typist, but a good old fashioned A5 notepad could be a great alternative for when you need to take notes, but then you guys would need a man bag so that would bring it full circle back to the compendium debate…..

    1. Olly on Reply

      Is the compendium the professional’s man bag I wonder? I agree using one is a cliché, yet feel uncomfortable going to a client meeting without anything, so the compendium keeps coming back!

  5. Jeremy Symes (@jez2a) on Reply

    Ha! I didn’t realise it was industry uniform! I’ve found it quite useful for hiding profiles or my hieroglyphic notes from prying eyes and a lot of places I visit don’t have much more than old dial up speeds. Or maybe I’m just living in the past and need to rethink my methods, especially with this iPad3 coming out!

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