This week got off to a pretty eventful start for New Zealand’s shot put silver medallist Valerie Adams when she was informed that the
woman person she had lost her Olympic crown to, Nadzeya Ostapchuk, had tested positive for anabolic steroid metenolone. Joy and relief all round, as the news delivered New Zealand another Olympic gold medal and meant Valerie retained her place at the pinnacle of her sport.
But it’s impossible not to feel a bit flat and deflated by it really. Val may well be the Olympic champion once again, but the essence of sport goes far beyond the stats and history books. It is about the contest, the passion and the eventual glory. It is about standing victorious, straight from the heat of battle, adrenalin still pumping as the national anthem blares.
Regardless of whatever ceremony we hold for her when she arrives back in Auckland, Val has been forever denied that moment of glory by the mindless cheating of her greatest rival.
But of course, cheating isn’t confined solely to the realms of sport. It rears its ugly head in the world of recruitment from time to time as well. When I first moved into the New Zealand recruitment market, my arrival came just after the departure of another recruiter from the central Auckland team. My company paid commission on a 4-weekly basis and based purely on billings achieved, not reliant on whether or not the invoice had been paid. This particular recruiter was unable to resist the temptation this set up presents, and falsified a number of placements and billings over the months immediately preceding his departure. This resulted in artificially inflated commission cheques and even a promotion (!) before the accounts receivable queries started to mount and he scarpered.
Fast forward five years and this week got off to an eventful start for someone else involved in cheating too. A Wellington recruiter took the stand in court on Monday after pleading guilty to defrauding his employer. This particular recruiter took things even further than the last guy, setting up his own company on the side to syphon off fees from his regular desk and into his own bank account. Not content with merely inflating the commission cheque, he decided he wanted the whole of the fee to himself, and spent a full year defrauding his employer who in these tough economic times has barely drawn anything from the business for themselves.
Recruitment is a high pressure game. There are many recruiters out there whose inherent levels of competitiveness can drive them to making poor errors of judgement to appear successful. Likewise, things are not as they were, and some recruiters used to the glory and trappings of successful, high-billing desks, are struggling with the battle to get deals across the line and new thriftiness of clients.
But none of this is any excuse for cheating. If you are a recruiter struggling to cope with the fact your $500k per year desk is now delivering a patchy $15k per month then you simply have to find a way to be successful again. Roll with the punches, adjust your impression of what a successful recruiter’s lifestyle should look like, swallow your mammoth recruiter ego, and find a way to deliver a service and solution so brilliant that your clients are unable to say no. You may still fall short of the $500k levels, certainly for the next couple of years, but when you exceed budget, when you collect a genuine commission cheque, and when your client thanks you for a job well done, those tiny shards of victory will taste so much sweeter than the bitter, empty feeling of winning by cheating.
As it turned out, the recruiter’s lawyer failed to turn up at court, so sentencing has been delayed until November. Probably about the same time that Val Adams’ gold medal will arrive. Hopefully the award won’t be too tarnished by then, unlike the career of this particular ex-recruiter.