Skip to main content

“Different Thinking” from our Recruitment Leaders – a book review

By June 9, 20113 Comments

In a world seemingly awash with business books, management texts and leadership essays it seems to me that there is a distinct dearth of quality, interesting and genuinely illuminating books relating to our unique recruitment industry.  In fact I usually find myself reading business-related books and trying to mentally wrap their content around our oddly-shaped industry to see how it fits.  Such as the fabulous Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, a book that explores the phenomenon of gut-feeling, rapid cognition and intuition, which I applied to the interview and selection process.


Some of you may also remember The Whiteboard’s review of UK recruitment trainer Dean Gollings’ e-book (what else..?) How to be a Great Recruitment Manager. It was ok…strangely entertaining…but nothing to really set the recruiting juices flowing.

Different Thinking

So when the freshly pressed copy of Different Thinking by Nicholas Beames landed on my desk a couple of weeks ago (thanks Nicholas), I was wholeheartedly reserving my judgement.  The launch of the book, a collection of “Lessons, tips and inspiration from 20 of our most successful, inspiring and astute Recruiters” had been well-trumpeted through RCSA breakfast book launches and a variety of social media channels, so I have to admit to a slight whetting of literary tastebuds.


Straight away it became clear this was a highly polished and professionaly-produced publication.  The embossed front cover turned over to release that peculiar new-book smell, revealing 200 pages of glossy photos, creative layout editing, interesting industry-related facts and adverts.


Oh yeah, that was the sound of a needle scratching that sonorous vinyl record.  Adverts?  In a business book?  Looking closer it was apparent they were all well-targeted to their likely primary readership (us recruiters) much like the clever Facebook algorithms throw up adverts for local wedding planners once your status changes to engaged.  Adverts for recruitment software, migration agents and VoIP phone systems jostling for space in between the expert contributions.


Combining with the funky layouts, high-quality photos and glossy feel, you begin to realise this isn’t actually a business book such as you might find adorning the shelves of airport book outlets.  But looking beyond, towards the racks of magazines, you will find the space in the middle where this book should occupy.  Neither formal business text nor magazine, it is actually a joyous combination of both.  A bookzine.  Maga-book?  Yeah that’s better.  And the thing is it works.  Once you get over the surprise of the layout, the style and the adverts and actually just get stuck into it, those oddities become kind of irrelevant.  In fact they make it pretty cool.


The content is pure voyeuristic pleasure for all recruitment leaders out there wanting a look into what made some of their peers so successful.  It’s an interesting range of contributors too.  From relative newcomers to upper management in large firms and through to genuine industry legends there are some real pearls of wisdom here.  Some things that really caught my eye:


Andrew Banks (of Morgan & Banks and now Talent 2 fame) family motto that drives him:

“Don’t tiptoe through life towards death…”


Greg Savage of Firebrand describing the necessity of ego:

“Successful recruiters need both ego drive and ego strength – they are competitive, resilient and tenacious”


Dalia Klein from SHK identifying the importance of bravery:

“Bravery is a core value here – the willingness to try something new, to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, without fear of making mistakes”


And possibly my favourite thought of all from Graham Jenkins of The Executive Connection, who spots a peculiar personality trait of  big billers:

“The Recruiter’s Insecurity Drive is interesting.  The best recruiters I’ve met care deeply about what clients and candidates think of them.  They have a desire to be well-regarded and I believe this makes them perform better”


But there are many more besides and I won’t bore you with any more that just happen to interest me – you can make your own minds up.  Designed for the way we consume information these days, this is a book purposefully presented to either skim read, read in greater depth, or dip into from time to time.  In fact this could just as easily have been a collection of blog posts from individual recruitment leaders, homogenised and sterilised by the editors and presented as a whole.  Actually, the main area of contention here is that the homogeny of offerings is at odds with the title of the book.  The lessons may well be “different thinking” to how many other recruitment leaders have tried and failed in the past, but amongst this group there are not a whole lot of conflicting, or differing, opinions.


All are asked the same five questions:

  1. Advice for new employees on how to be the best?
  2. The five most important attributes of a successful recruiter?
  3. Technologies supported in your business and attitude towards your staff using these technologies?
  4. A decision that, in hindsight, you would have made differently?
  5. Advice on growing a business?

Many give very similar responses.  Persistence / drive / passion / tenacity features almost unanimously among the successful recruiter’s attributes.  Nearly all are very pro-technology and harnessing the power of social media as a sourcing channel, although Scott Recruitment manage the output from Facebook and Twitter per office, and Tony Cooke of Paxus regards social media as a last recourse and (possibly correctly?) believes it still has a long way to go to truly improve productivity.


This book is a hearty pat on the back for the leaders of the highly successful and profitable Australian recruitment industry.  After a near-crippling recession, these are the survivors who have coming out stronger, and I for one don’t begrudge this recruitment love-in.  It isn’t a high brow business or leadership text, but for many of you out there you will actually get a lot more out of it because of that.  It is accessible, it speaks your language, it contains genuinely useful pieces of advice, and for the money (20 bucks e-book / 30 bucks paperback) it is an excellently produced publication that we should be proud of as an industry.


There isn’t really anyone in recruitment I wouldn’t recommend this to.  Whether you are new to the industry and seeking inspiration, an experienced recruiter wondering how to raise your game, or an industry veteran looking for fresh ideas, you will find all of that in here.  I do, however, look forward to the sequel, and will be hoping that next time around it might delve deeper beneath the surface of what makes our best performers tick and really throw up some genuinely thought-provoking comments that might make us all think…well…differently.

Jonathan Rice

Director of New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice & Co, co-founder of freelance recruiter platform JOYN, and people-centric technology firm superHUMAN Software. Recruitment innovator, agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Emma Hudson says:

    Excellent review! Maybe you could also look at book reviewing as a “side line”
    I read the book this week as well and I have to agree, I thought it was great to get an industry specific book – instead of moulding the endless sales and bio books to the recruitment industry.  It is well compiled and easy to read and I would defiantly recommend it too

  • George 3636 says:

    Flourish and Prosper is also a cracker – not in print any longer but excellent read from Andrew Banks and Geoff Morgan

  • Rec says:

    “Pick your best competitor and go after them.” G.Wasik – RBDS.