Street Smarts or School Smarts… The Recruiter’s Dilemma
It always surprises me when I meet a client, (don’t forget I’m a Rec2Rec), who insists on only seeing candidates who are ‘Degree Qualified’… and I ask one question… Why?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an ‘Academiaphobe’ – I have ultimate respect for those who are degree qualified… It’s a hard slog attending lecture after lecture, tutorial after tutorial, exam after exam for 3 or 4 years. Coupled with the very real responsibility of drinking copious amounts of alcohol – at all times of the day (and night) – with no source of serious income. You learn all manner of big words like; pedagogue, superfluous and mirkin (well they’re the 3 big words I learnt at university), and you learn that if you don’t fulfil your assignment obligations you get an extension – and if that doesn’t work you have a generous appeals process… so how does that prepare you for the glamorous world of recruitment?
Yes, I acknowledge that a degree qualified accountant, may better understand cash accrual accounting against the other kind (or kinds) of accounting, and a civil engineer maybe able to navigate AUTOcad as well as FastTrack, but does knowledge make you a better recruiter?
I recently interviewed a Senior Recruitment consultant in the Banking space. And for those of you who have been living on Uranus for the past couple of years Banking Recruitment has been about as successful and lucrative as the Australian Olympic Swim team… or Rowing Team… or Weightlifting Team… Anyway, this candidate has been billing $600k plus annually over the past 3 years – with no PSA/PSL accounts. I called a client of mine – who has been searching for a great consultant to prop up their ailing Banking desk for the past 14 months – to discuss my candidate’s credentials.
‘Hi, Mr. Ed. It’s Craig Watson here. I’ve finally unearthed a seriously successful Banking candidate for you!’
‘Really?’ My client replied, with just a slight hint of desperate optimism in his voice. ‘Tell me about them.’
‘Well, he has 6 years experience in the Investment banking space, last 3 years with the same employer…’
‘Yes, yes…’ the excitement in his voice beginning to rise.
‘He has been averaging over $600k per annum for the past 4 years, runs a dual contracting perm desk. Very deep networks in both the candidate and clients side, loves client development, and has very realistic base salary expectations.’
‘Sounds fantastic, can you send his details over asap? I’ll have quick look and we will set up an interview. If he’s everything you say he is we’ll move through the process very quickly and offer within the week…’
So, I sent the details over. Followed up with a phone call the next morning and couldn’t get through. Emailed again and left another 3 messages over the next 4 days… Finally, on day 5 I received the following email…
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. We are going to take a pass on this candidate as he does not have a tertiary qualification. Although his background seems impressive, we require our consultants to be ‘Degree Qualified’
Please continue the search and let me know when you come across suitably qualified candidates.
Ima Knob Recruitment
Look, I get it – I really do, but for the love of all things holy that attitude can be summed up in one word… Stupid.
Some of the best recruiters I know are not degree qualified, and they get by on something you can’t teach in university – Street Smarts. Call it what you like – there are those that have a certain nous, a level of intuition, a sense of ‘reading the play’ that makes them far more valuable than a degree qualified counterpart… of course if you have both that’s a lethal combination!
But please, please… PLEASE recruitment owners, who have a one size fits all policy and insist on tertiary qualified consultants need to change – and change quickly…
Bill Gates didn’t finish his degree, and Sir Richard Branson dropped out before he completed his secondary education – and they did all right… So, if you are not willing to look outside of your ivory tower, and consider a Consultant who owns his space and bills $600k annually, but doesn’t have a degree – quite frankly – it’s your loss…
And to close off I say this… Having School Smarts is knowing that a tomato is a fruit… Having Street Smarts is knowing not to put that tomato in a fruit salad…