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Does Flipping Burgers Make You a Good Potential Recruiter?

By August 18, 20113 Comments

Picture the scene:  It’s lunchtime in downtown Auckland.  The bland CBD streets have come alive with a stampede of suited office workers.  A Rice Consulting employee with a bargain-hunting mindset decides that, after much consideration, followed by consultations of the Entertainment Book, today it will be the nourishing wonders of McDonald’s for lunch.  Oh yes, for there’s nothing like anaemic, salty beef patties, rubbery cheese and limp lettuce to set yourself up for an afternoon of recruiting.  A fine choice.

The McDonald’s, heaving and rocking to the push of clock-watching diners, finger tapping smartphones, finger jabbing point of sales, shouted orders and noisily shuffling brogues offers up the choice of multiple queues, all snaking towards the brightly lit mecca where the orders may be placed.  Choosing carefully, our employee naturally gets it wrong, as his queue is held up by a sharply dressed diner chatting away to the girl at the counter, swaying back and forwards into her field of vision as she attempts to politely engage with the next customer.  A card is handed over and the blockage is removed, voluntarily extracting himself from the fast food altar in a swish of designer suit and crinkle of paper bag.

Eventually the patient employee reaches his goal and, with great satisfaction, procures not one, but two burgers, for he has a Voucher.  As the order is handed over the question is asked, about the earlier blockage that had so nearly stirred up a rumble of discontent amongst the hungry and determined masses.

Well the fellow was a recruiter, of course, and had decided that the McDonald’s employee might make a fine recruitment consultant indeed.  She showed the card that was handed over and told our man that he had been going on about how great the company was that he worked at, and how she would have a fine career there indeed if she could consider leaving the golden arches for his own promised land.  Apparently she didn’t seem that moved.

Well, there has been a lot of talk recently about talent shortages, lack of skilled workers, and the newly emerging ‘art’ of sourcing.  And make no mistake, the recruitment industry is not exempt.  Good agency recruiters are rare indeed and as business continues to pick up there is simply going to have to be a greater focus on recruitment firms “growing their own”.  Internal recruiters too.  Of course there is always an abundance of meekly under-performing agency recruiters interested in moving across to internal recruitment, but this is no longer enough for many of the more switched-on corporate recruitment teams.  You must understand the end-to-end recruitment process, for sure, but nowadays need to also display the commercial acumen for workforce planning, the strength of character to push back on demanding hiring managers, the craft and creativity to design recruitment campaigns, and the realisation of the power of employment branding and quality on-boarding.

So who can blame this determined recruiter keeping his eyes open for potential new recruits at his firm?  We all came from somewhere before recruitment.  My own story is one related a thousand times and more the world over.  With a background in sales I moved to Australia and sent my CV to a range of recruitment companies to get work.  None were interested in finding me a job, but all were interested in offering me a position as a trainee recruiter in their own firms.

But McDonalds employees?  I know it is getting very tight out there.  And I have heard good things about the McDonalds training programmes.  But there’s a big gap between “Would you like to upsize?” and “Can we recruit this role on a retained basis?”

So, grow your own, for sure, and there will be more and more of that in the years ahead.  Keep your eyes peeled, always, that makes lots of sense.  But let’s try and keep the standards as high as possible.  We all know the reputations many firms got in the years leading up to the GFC.  Since trimming out the poor performers during those tough years it will be criminal to blindly return to the same standards, or lack thereof, we had in the past.

Oh yeah…and the business card?  It had Drake written on it.  Good luck with that guys.

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Rico1_9 says:

    Drake? Ha!

  • Katipo76 says:

    Jonathan – although I am usually a fan of your witty rhetoric I can’t help but think this piece is an example of how we in the recruitment industry have a tendancy to be a little narrow visioned and short sighted when potential candidates don’t tick the obvious boxes.

    Although not suggesting that shoulder tapping fast food service industry employees is the answer the talent shortage…. You said it best yourself Jonathan “We all came from somewhere before recruitment”.

    I myself worked at McDonalds during the Uni holiday for 4 years, and would like to think I am indeed a ‘high standard” recruit. I have now been in the recruitment industry for 14 years, have worked around the world on rather impressive contracts doing some rather creative and impressive things for rather impressive people (if I do say so myself).

    Although I don’t work for Drake (and I’m not actually a particularly big fan of them either) I genuinely hope that by being proactive and open-minded they might have inadvertantly stumbled on the recruitment star of the future….

    My humble opinion only of course!

  • Stewart Farr says:

    Meh…. Some of my experiences with Recruitment agents, are they make used car salesmen look professional. I swear for the life of me many do not even know what HRM is, or even why the square block doesn’t fit the round hole waaaay back in kindergarten. These people drag your industry down as a whole. So while others (recruitment agents) might banter on that scoping at McD’s is bad idea, as a customer of recruitment agents I have to inform you, I have seen worse………perhaps there is a bigger problem………