When I Grow Up I want to be a… Recruiter… really?

I took my 8 year old nephew to school last week.  He took me into his classroom, introduced me to his teacher and showed me some of the work they were doing.

On a wall at the back of the classroom there was a display entitled – When I Grow Up I want to be a…

Being a recruiter I was naturally drawn to this display, and here are the highlights…

24 kids in the class

6 wanted to be a doctor

4 wanted to be a teacher

3 wanted to be a hairdresser

3 wanted to be a policeman

2 wanted to be a fireman

1 wanted to be an actor/actress

1 wanted to be a racing car driver

1 wanted to be a gardener

1 wanted to be an AFL Footballer

1 wanted to be a chef

1 wanted to be a Big Brother contestant

I took a closer look somewhat surprised at what I was seeing… what? No recruiter??

The teacher – let’s call her Miss Moneypenny – saw me looking at the display and came over…

‘I see you’re looking at our display,’ she said ‘What do you do for a living?’

I gave the obligatory, smug smile and said… ‘I’m a Recruiter…’

‘Oh…’ Miss Moneypenny’s eyes involuntarily dropped to the floor… ‘A Recruiter…’ Imagine the whiff of derision in her voice, the hint of disappointment, the twitch of fear in her eyes, as she looks for a way to back out of this conversation.

I, on the other hand, chose to ignore her questionable behaviour and keep talking. After all, I am a Recruiter – proud of it – and I’m used to people not understanding how important our industry is to the fabric of society…

‘Yes,’ I smile, ‘A Recruiter… It amazes me that some of your students didn’t choose it as a career path.  Did you know that in the last year alone Recruiters in Australia helped over 350,000 people find new jobs?’

‘No.’ she responded.

‘Did you know that over the past 2 years the recruitment industry in Australia was the second fastest growing sector in terms of growth?’

‘No…’ in a slightly more bored tone this time…

‘Did you know that next to Travel & Tourism, Banking and Insurance – Recruitment spends more money in sponsorship and development of sport than any other sector in Australia?’

Obviously, these stats were made up on the spot… but I felt threatened…

‘Wow… you guys are practically super heroes…’ Miss Moneypenny responded, with a roll of the eyes and a sneaky look at her watch.  I took the hint and excused myself from the classroom, but it really got me thinking…

Our industry – and what we do – is a noble profession.  Yes, we are paid for our services, but so are Doctors, Police Officers, Fireman and Teachers.  And guess what?  We help people too!

We – as a group – need to turn around the perception of Recruiters that’s out there in the greater community… Are you as sick as I am of being ever so slightly embarrassed when you are at a barbecue with new people and they ask you what you do for a living?  It’s up to us to change this view.

It’s the little things that will help – and here’s a short checklist to live by…

  • Respond to all applications you receive.
  • If you promise to get back to someone – get back to them. NO excuses.
  • Be honest with your feedback.
  • Be transparent with Candidates and Clients
  • Out the ‘cowboys’ in our industry – we don’t need them.
  • Believe in the value of your service.
  • And… Be proud of being a Recruiter!

Let’s face it.  No-one goes to school and says… ‘I want to be a Recruiter when I grow up…’

But… wouldn’t it be good… if we helped change that?

An just as a sign off, a little question… I’m training for ‘Tough Mudder’ in a couple of months and I was wondering in my training schedule does running late count as exercise?

Craig Watson


42 thoughts on “When I Grow Up I want to be a… Recruiter… really?

  1. Guillaume Hoopper on Reply

    Well, I came from a country where head hunters are experienced professionals with a minimum Master Degree Diplomas and 5 years of industry experience.
    Australia is probably the most unethic and unprofessional recruitment industry I ever saw. Internal or external recruitment are full of Sales people who are not interested by the client or the candidate but by the fees.
    And when I read that you advocate for the Recruitment Industry by considering sponsorship spend in sports that is just ridiculous. Then anyone in the tobacco industry can feel as a king.
    Seriously, as long as Australia will not force anyone to adopt a strict ethos code ( eg not doing fake adverts) this industry will be considered as a crook organisation.

    1. Craig Watson rec-to-rec on Reply

      Hi Guillaume,
      Thanks for your comments, but I’m not sure I necessarily agree with much of what you have said…
      A) I don’t believe you need a minimum Masters Degree to be an ethical and professional recruiter
      B) Unfortunately, however you wrap it up Recruitment is a Sales industry and you need to possess that skill to be successful
      C) Sponsorship is a form of Brand Marketing and Tobacco Advertising/Sponsorship has been banned for a number of years
      D) I’m not sure we are a ‘crook organisation’ Regrettably there are a few bad eggs – and it is these people we need ro be rid of, but let’s not tar everyone with the same brush…

      What do others think???

      1. Denise on Reply

        I agree Craig, to be a good recruiter, we always ask for someone who has 3-5 years of experience in recruitment (agency or in-house based), never focused on qualifications as such, always on their experience.

        Sorry Guillaume, for you must have had a pretty bad experience but ethics is not what a company teaches you, its something you possess from the get-go.Recruitment is recruitment even though an agency definitely operates quite differently to in-house recruitment.

      2. Tim on Reply

        Completely agree with Guillaume.
        Speaking from my experience – recruiters are grossly inexperienced, and purely trained to be sales people, identifying the clients that will pay the most money. That is a generalization, but it is very well deserved.

        I doubt very much that construction or resources sectors are outspent on sporting or donations by recruitment. that’s just ridiculous, especially when you think of all the school sports grounds, community pools, football fields, teams, clubs etc that these industries pay for and create.

        And finally, there are many more bad eggs than good, largely due to the amount of agency recruiters out there. You have to rely on underhanded and dirty tricks and tactics to get that magic dollar sign on the whiteboard in your office, or you won’t have a job next week… Proud to be a recruiter? really? All I hear is someone creating their own fantasy land with great delusions of grandeur!

        1. Craig Watson rec-to-rec on Reply

          Hi Tim,
          You clearly have issues with the Agency sector within the Recruitment industry… Can I be so bold as to ask you a question, or two?
          Firstly, does your venom stem from your experience with the only role you had within Agency recruitment back 2009, or your interaction as an In-house for the years that follow?
          Secondly, do you really believe that there are ‘more bad eggs than good’ in the industry?
          Finally, all of our posts are delivered with a fair degree of ‘tongue in cheek’ about them – they are not written to offend, or encourage negative comments… Sorry you read the post in a different light than it was written…


  2. Carol Williams on Reply

    I enjoyed this read and think Recruiters and Job Providers do a fabulous job in placing people into employment. Thats changing peoples lives for the better. Something to be proud of in my opinion. 🙂

  3. amandacommander on Reply

    Nice one Craig! Love the article. I think its is so important for those that are great at recruitment to be advocates for what our job is really about.

    Regarding the Masters, I don’t agree you need one to be an ethical recruiter. Many universities don’t teach practical skills like listening and building rapport. It’s all about the theory and little implementation. Someone that posses these skills naturally is always going to win over!

    Keep up the great posts, they are always entertaining to read.

  4. Mark Linden on Reply

    Recruitment has been through some tough times and it’s during those tough times that the bad element of the industry show their true colours. To be a good recruiter in this day and age you need to be able to retain both clients and candidates. The days of the “it doesn’t matter as long as we get a fee” consultants has passed.

    Unfortunately not everyone got the memo!

  5. Leah Athanasiadis on Reply

    Hi Craig,

    Great article – I tend to agree with you in response to Guillaume’s comments. Yes we have some extremely competitive sales minded people in Australia, however without the sales aspect we would never fill jobs – no activity means no jobs to fill. I say keep up the sales and we can keep helping people get jobs they loved – if we remain focused and do the right thing by everybody by keeping a nice balance between sales and service.

    It is unfortunate that people feel it right to place every Recruiter in the same basket. If we were all the same there would be no competition or value add service we could offer.

  6. The Veteran on Reply

    @Guillaume Hoopper. What a shame you seem to have missed the humour in the article, perhaps studying for this “masters degree” didn’t allow you to socialise enough?

    By the way, your point regarding “false advertising” I agree with 100%.

    As for, “Australia is probably the most unethic and unprofessional recruitment industry I ever saw. Internal or external recruitment are full of Sales people who are not interested by the client or the candidate but by the fees.”

    May I suggest you look at a few other countries recruiting methodology? I can assure you there are many many far more in need of your scathing comments.

    Australia does have a way to go and yes we do need to name and shame the cowboys and drive them out. We also need to read articles like this and appreciate that there are solid recruiters out there who can offer a first class professional value adding service.

    I hope that one day you have a good experience with a professional recruiter Guillaume Hoopper and I hope that day comes in Australia.

  7. Melly Belly on Reply

    Craig, Great article … our next generation have mixed aspirations it seems and I note none put down the also misaligned ‘profession’ as housewife / househusband.

    Having been voted at the age of 12 the person most likely to become Prime Minister … I wonder where did I go wrong? As a trailing spouse following my husband on several overseas postings, every time I go through immigration on travels back to Oz I have to put down occupation of ‘housewife’. It gives me that catchy feeling in the back of my throat … just doesn’t sit well. Once I wrote down ‘home maker’ – and the immigration staff asked me if i was an architect? I wish. Sounds so honourable. Official. Qualified. Do they not know that Tom Cruise in mission impossible has NOTHING on a mother who can drive like a demon (and avoid breaking too many laws) getting her kids to school, organise events with one hand to the phone, while cooking and organising schedules with the other … can detect noises with supersonic hearing and can move about in stealth mode avoiding waking anyone … detect lies at the twitch of an eye brow and don’t start me on the art of interrogation without any bodily harm! Tom was acting – we do it for real every day!

    I totally empathise with the plight of recruiters. Recruiters are our friends … they are the ones who find out what our skills are see beyond month X year Y for company Z, and if doing their job right put us forward for the right match. Recruiters need to be Psychologists, Diplomats, Marketers, Negotiators, Mediators, and yes also Sales people (who also get a bum rap regardless of industry). Oh and you forgot the absolute key recruiter skill: Zero Call Reluctance. Fearlessness is essential. So keep your head up and be proud.

    Getting back to your niece why don’t you like many interesting schools do – suggest some of the parents and relatives in various other industries do short presentations to the kids about the world of professions other than those on your nieces wish board? Food for thought. Those talkers, charismatic genuine people loving kids could very well be inspired.

    I myself still awkward with the role of trailing spouse/housewife will embark on resuming my career on my eventual return to Australia. I can tell you now recruiters will be my best friend and no doubt honesty tell me I’ve left my running to bump Julia Guillard off her post a little too late, but will encourage me into the realm of where my true talents lie.

    Wish me luck in that.

    Best regards

  8. Mitch Sullivan on Reply

    Recruiters don’t decide to become unethical or unlikeable – it’s a state that slowly evolves over time and is driven by the business model they work to.

    Contingency recruitment is, by its very nature, open to being gamed and having its corners cut. Its stick is speed and its carrot is money – neither of which ever resulted in anything of any lasting quality.

    Getting a contingency recruiter to adopt all of the qualities in your list is as realistic as asking a 5 year-old to not make a mess on Christmas morning.

      1. Mitch Sullivan on Reply

        Yep, I think so too, Craig. I think it would be the best (and easiest) way for those recruiters who can do the job properly to stand apart from those who can’t.

        They just have to have the confidence in themselves to start selling it to their existing and future clients.

  9. Guillaume Hoopper on Reply

    I think my comment was a bit rude but at the same time replies should be more nuanced. Pretending the Recruitment practices are going in the right direction is hilarious. Anyone who has worked in this industrie for more than ten years can feel the changes.
    The industries practices are moving in the direction of Randstadt/Adecco and others high volumes recruiters.
    Pretending to care about candidates and work with a strong ethic in such sales environment is lying when at the same time you are asked to publish fakes add to attract candidates. I get many reply to my comment saying how much I was wrong but it is interesting to see that only one agree on the fake adds problems.
    So to go back to the initial point of this article, I guess the best way for this industry to gain respect and credibility would be to stop lying to itself. A bit of honesty and self-criticism never harm. As well as a bit of humor I reckon 😉

  10. Kevin Geerin on Reply

    To my way of thinking our industry is fairly well regulated, with a strong code of ethics, whilst there are cowboys out there, in the main i believe we are consultative recruiters working equally as hard for both Clients and candidates.
    Like others i agree with the comments, some recruiters do build there candidate base via fake Adds. I also agree a sales presence is necessary in the make up of a recruiter along with being a good listener, a dog at a bone temperament, and a genuine feeling you are doing something that will make a difference.

  11. Melanie on Reply

    Guillaume should probably take a refresher course in English and spelling/grammar.. Who cares about an MBA if you can’t be taken seriously because of your inability to put an argument together in a public forum like this?

    1. Salman on Reply

      Best comment indeed : For sure grammar is more important than opinion or ideas. Let ask all the grammar teachers to join our industry.

  12. Melanie on Reply

    Salman, my point was somewhat tongue in cheek about an MBA. However; I stand by if you want to be taken seriously in a public forum at least put together a compelling argument (which Guillaume’s did) free of grammatical errors (which it didn’t)! Soon we will be a world without any governance around grammar. Reality check; as a recruiter that makes up an important part of your role. Example, sending an overview to a client with grammatical errors is a HUGE no no! You can have all the opinions you want but you face not being taken seriously if you can’t out a sentence together on paper or in email.

    1. Salman on Reply

      Melanie, I guess Guillaume’s native tongue is not english but something francophone when he uses industrie instead of industry (my native tongue is russian). You would be surprise how tolerant on grammar clients are when you work on a global level. I have head hunted in many countries before moving for good in Australia and can confirm that each country has different standard and practices despite globalization . Claiming Australia’s is on top of ethos is wrong by far. Ask what clients think.
      Flexible labor laws = easy access to HR industry = non filtered people = bad ethos.
      Melanie sounds exotic too by the way 😉

      1. Melanie on Reply

        Tongue in cheek Salman? I work for a global org in internal recuritment. I am forgiving of emails/resumes from overseas, it’s the ones sent in Australia that are gramatically incorrect I struggle with. However; I guess if it works for you, then why change.

  13. Not a cowboy on Reply

    “Obviously, these stats were made up on the spot…”

    Isn’t it actions precisely like this that give us recruiters a bad name? This is the type of classic cowboy behaviour which should be eliminated.

  14. 4 The Greater Good on Reply

    Worry less about trying to justify to others your industry and your role within it. So long as you are happy with what you do with your living and your life, and you’re doing right by others, it doesn’t matter what the cynics think, right?

  15. Gavin White on Reply

    Lovely article to read, sadly I also do the little smug smile before telling people I am a recruiter. Completely agree that we should be proud of what we do.

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