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The Placement Dance (And Other Ways to Embarrass Your Staff)

By January 19, 20125 Comments

My first ever real sales job was in a car rental office in Southern California.  There are many things I can recall from my first week there.  There’s a lot of remarkable things for a 22 year old English guy to experience in his first few days in America.  But one thing really stood out for me.  The branch Assistant Manager, an exotically-named Californian with a deep tan and teeth only matched in brightness by his crisp, white shirt, swaggering in from the outside where he had escorted his customers into a waiting hire car.  Brandishing the signed car hire agreement, he strode up to a bell secured atop a filing cupboard and with two confident swipes of his hand, tapped out two loud rings and breathed out the words “Full boat, baby…”

This was what happened in our office when someone sold a hire car customer the full insurance package: Damage Waiver, Personal Injury Insurance and Liability Cover.  This was a hard sell, asking customers to part with an extra $20/day on top of the price they had been quoted for just the car, and in a society where using your credit card to pay for a hire car provided it’s own insurance coverage anyway.

I was bewitched.  I loved it.  I wanted to ring that bell.  I guess it was at that point that my career in sales really began.  Then my sales career eventually found its way into the recruitment world…

Now recruiters, in general, know how to celebrate success.  It’s something we’re really quite good at.  I’ve experienced a number of different offices, and companies, and all have their rituals for celebrating the making of placements, applauding the closing of a deal and the candidate putting pen to paper on a contract.  Whether it be a rookie recruiter’s first placement sending the whole office to the nearest bar for a round of shots.  Whether it be a cap gun firing, a bell ringing, or just a simple round of applause, there’s some strange and entertaining practices out there.

Probably the most cringe-worthy one of all, for me, was the whole office having to get up and dance around a wobbling, gyrating, choking chicken as it belted some cheesy song in a “strangled-chicken-voice” kind of manner.  I refused to get up and dance.  I thought it was ridiculous.  I was made to feel like I wasn’t towing the company line.  So imagine my surprise when I learned recently that this same recruitment team had taken their placement dancing mascot to a client meeting where they were discussing the renewal of their preferred supplier panel?  I can only imagine the impression made on the client when the placement dance was performed live in front of them, as an example of how the zany, crazy, fun-lovin’ recruitment team “celebrate success”.

But perhaps I’m being churlish here.  Just because I prefer celebrating in a more liquid form, who’s to say that’s any better than dancing to an annoying, strangled chicken.  Is this whole ritual a bit cheesy and passe nowadays?  Or still an essential part of the sales culture?

What works for you?

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.


  • Fiona says:

    Still do the High Five … with a little dance and the whoop whoop …of yeah .. oh yeah

  • Richard says:

    We still ring a cow bell

  • Paul says:

    Having just completed my first placement I have to say liquid celebration is the way forward!

  • James says:

    One agency had an air horn – used to shake the whole office block – had to stop when the IRA bombings began though (showing his age) as people would run out the building…..

  • Lesley Hardy says:

    OMG Jonathan how did I miss this!  Hilarious!  I would do the happy dance for sure, but then thats the kind of cheese I am.  It wouldnt be chicken choking however or singing.  Just a joyful FIGJAM kind of movement LOL