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Ten Tips to Survive Your Recruitment Christmas Party

By December 6, 20123 Comments

Silly season is well and truly upon us and today, being the first Friday in December, will doubtless herald the launching of several Christmas work functions to come.  Recruiters can often be partial to throwing the odd alcohol-fueled shindig and, being the excitable larakins many of us are, these occasions can prove treacherously difficult to navigate in an appropriate way.  So with no further ado, I bring you The Whiteboard’s essential survival guide to your 2012 Christmas Party:

Secret Santa

Don’t loudly exclaim “Oh God not that cow…” when pulling a name from the hat and proceed to purchase glow-in-the-dark items of an explicit nature for said benefactor.  Do open your gift with humility and grace, ignoring the fact that the useless piece of tat is already earmarked for re-gifting at next year’s event.  The awkward accounts clerk who pays your contractors has been stressing all week since pulling your name from the hat and will be pretending not to watch your expression when opening the gift…whilst actually watching you like a hawk.

Drinks in the Office

It is quite possible that your recruitment firm will kick off proceedings with drinks in the office.  It’s been a tough year, so for some that’s where it might end, but for others you might get to head out for a meal afterwards too!  Don’t grab a beer and sit back at your desk, screening CV’s and clearing e-mails.  Do take the opportunity to swap some war stories with recruiters in other divisions and hey, maybe even build some bridges from that time you tried to fill one of their roles.


Soon after office drinks have been exhausted your Director or Manager will feel they ought to say something.  This will probably take a much more sober format than later speeches made from the karaoke mic in the K-Rd transvestite bar.  Don’t carry on talking to your colleague about why they chose to wear a suit to work today, before loudly coughing *bullshit* into your hand when congratulations are handed out to the year’s top billers.  Do listen attentively, take note of the salient points raised, and bring them back up when swaying at the bar with your boss later, before suggesting they buy everyone a tray of shots.

Work Talk

Once you are all out and about and the office has become a distant memory, it is time to switch off the work talk.  Don’t keep going on about how your sterling business development activities had won new clients that others had taken more advantage of.  Do find out more about the outside hobbies and interests of your colleagues, and use it as an exercise to practice your listening skills, something many recruiters need a lot of practice doing.

Client Spotting

If one of your clients spent all day walking under ladders and crossing paths with black cats, they might find themselves in the same restaurant or drinking establishment as you that night.  Don’t boom their name across the room, hugging them like a long lost friend and dragging over to your boss to introduce them.  Do refer to the hobbies and interests thing above.  Or actually, just shake their hand and demurely move away.

Ready to Rumble

Most office parties will be held tonight or next Friday night.  You certainly won’t be alone out there and, despite tough trading conditions, many recruitment firms will be out doing the same thing as yours.  Don’t shout abuse at the guy who competes in your space, bemoaning his lack of ethics and loudly declaring how many placements you made in his clients this year.  Do give the slightest flicker of recognition with a raised eyebrow, before looking baffled when he tells you where he works now, claiming to have never heard of them, and assuming he had left the recruitment industry.


If your firm is kind enough (or crazy enough) to invite significant others along then do take the time to engage in attentive non-work talk.  They are not a future client or candidate and, if they are, they have probably been through the same conversation a number of times with their partner before, especially when they’ve been having a lean Quarter.

Dangers of Mobile

Facebook sees its future as mobile with more and more people accessing their site and their apps via mobile devices.  Get your social photo sharing out of the way early when everyone is still looking good and not tired, blotchy and dribbling.  Those Twitter followers and Facebook likers you have carefully curated throughout the year might be enthralled to see the depths of drunken debauchery your team is capable of descending into.  But your boss won’t.

Boss Talk

When your Director or Manager does finally step down from the karaoke mic and lurches towards the bar this is a good time to casually place yourself in their path.  Don’t use this moment to give them the “managing-up” feedback they have always encouraged you to give, telling them you don’t feel they are providing consistent leadership, or communicating well enough, or providing the necessary vision.  Do bring up those points you listed to in their earlier speech, congratulate them on steering the firm through a tricky year, mention that you feel enlivened at the prospect of stepping up into a position of greater responsibility next year….and suggest they buy that tray of shots.

Dirty Dancing

There may well come a time of night where talking is just too complicated and besides, the music has reached levels where shouting spit-laden inanities into your colleagues’ ears has become plain boring.  Don’t take this opportunity to sidle up to the office hottie and gyrate your interpretive dance moves around her.  Do find the boss (unless they’re on the mic again or gyrating along with you), thank them for their kind hospitality, and head for the exit with your dignity (and future career prospects) intact.

Whatever you all do, have fun out there, hold your heads high as recruiters, and have an awesome time celebrating the end of 2012.  Most of you have deserved it!


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.