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Robert Half’s Utopian Recruitment Bubble

By February 20, 201412 Comments

A couple of weeks ago a video from Customise Consulting caused a bit of a stir on this blog with its amusingly provocative jabs towards the traditional, corporate, recruitment agency model.  This week I came across another video about being a recruitment consultant, but this one is actually from one of those large, shareholder run, corporate recruiting models that Customise are seeking to disrupt.

Robert Half, one of our industry’s originals being founded in 1948, and now listed on the NYSE, released this video A day in the life of a Robert Half Recruitment Consultant:

Recruitment companies, ironically, don’t typically boast a very high success rate at recruiting for themselves. So, I applaud the sentiment behind this video. I’ve no doubt it will serve to attract more people towards working in our industry, which is great.

But I’m not so sure that, when reality bites, it will do much to help retain them.

Because that’s the major problem with this video. It is to working in recruitment what cuddly Labrador puppies frolicking with toilet roll are to wiping your arse.  It is the utopian view of working as a recruitment consultant.  A day of hard-nosed business and deal-closing, framed by runs along pristine beaches and zany co-workers, all fueled with frothy lattes and a well-earned end-of-day wine.  To many outside the industry, I suspect, it won’t do a whole lot to improve their opinion of us recruitment consultants.

Perhaps something more realistic could have helped in that regard.  It would be great to see how this video might change with the word “Typical” applied to the front of the title.  Perhaps a morning where your plans to go running are interrupted by a temp calling in sick and you having the spend the next 30 minutes frantically calling for back up so your client can have a receptionist in place by 8.30am.  Then spending a morning calling clients who inform you that you’re the fifth recruiter to call already that day and to please leave them alone.  Perhaps interviewing a candidate and pitching a role to them, to be informed that your competitor has already put them forward for that role that you understood the client had engaged with you exclusively to fill.  And then, to round the day off, a candidate who you secured a $10k salary increase for when offering them your client’s job, telling you they have actually achieved a $15k salary increase because they’ve been counter-offered and staying at their current employer (who they told you they hated just 2 weeks ago).

Don’t get me wrong, I love the cut and thrust, the ups and downs, the emotional rollercoaster of recruitment.  For some, like me, it can be kind of addictive (and probably to our heroes in the video too).  But for most, they just don’t have the stomach for it, and never will.  A video like this will definitely help Robert Half attract more people interested in joining as a recruiter.  But not many will stay once they are confronted with the scary, but exhilarating, reality.

Mind you, I was once told that, here in NZ at least, Robert Half only expect 1 in every 3 new hires to work out in their firm.  So perhaps they’re just playing a numbers game with this video and will end up with a few great hires amidst the jaded and broken recruiters cast aside along the way.

For me, I prefer the line of advertising and branding recently adopted by our NRL team The Warriors.  Opting out of the chest-beating, pompom frisking, fire exploding concepts usually employed by NRL clubs, this picture kind of sums up the reality of being a true fan:

landscape illustration

I guess that line sums up how I feel about recruitment:  “Being a Warriors fan recruiter can be unbearable.  Not being one would be unthinkable.”  Very well said Paul Smith who, as it happens is also a recruiter…one who has no doubt had many head-in-hands moments throughout his recruiting career that have helped with his latest modelling job!

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.


  • Kevin Chappell says:

    Yikes, I think if I was looking, that would put me off! Bleeding battery-hens – and roosters!! I don’t ever recall it ever being like that, crammed in a room cheek-to-cheek…. We had work-stations but there was some privacy and some room. I now know why the turnover is so high!!

    For me, the nearest breathing thing near me is our devoted Labraspoodle and the view is out over the lawn and over to the bush across the road!!

  • Troy Turner says:

    Sounds like you are having a bad day Jonathan (haha). When recruitments good, its great!. When its tough, you dig in. I’d rather be on this roll coaster than any other. Good luck to Robert Half for trying to get people into the industry.

  • Emma Reid says:

    Jonathan I always enjoy my Friday Whiteboard read – you never fail to inform or entertain

  • Rachel says:

    My days in agency were never like that. Gosh I must have been doing it wrong the whole time…..

  • Amanda says:

    That video didn’t look that fluffy so I’m glad I’m not a recruiter!

  • Susan Wilson says:

    Who would have thought Paul Smith was a Warriors fan! Well put and oh so accurate. When I joined Morgan & Banks back in their hey day, the pitch was more, this industry is “champagne and razor blades” and it’s unlikely most of you will last the year. Then they put us on retainer plus commission so after the quarter we owed the company money. Oh, what an apprenticeship but would do it again in a heartbeat.

  • Frank says:

    This video does two things for me – (1) as a client to recruitment agencies, I certainly wouldn’t be pay RH’s 15% fees when I see no dedication in this video to work on my assignment / role from an office of fairly junior looking consultants and (2) I thank god I’m not working at RH in a cramped, bad 80’s stockbroker style office with no privacy and no way to recruit at a senior level in that environment. The best times of the day for the employees seemed to be before work (on the beach), when outside of work (getting coffees) or after work (at the bar). Didn’t really inspire me to work there – perhaps may suit some, but just not my style of professional agency to work for.

  • Raewyn says:

    So the moral of the story: There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Paul proves you can publicly admit you are a Warriors fan (OMG yes out loud!) AND receive fame and fortune. Who knew! Lol Thanks for the good read Jon.

  • Jayne Rice says:

    Great blog this week Mr Rice, especially on the back of only three hours sleep. Great read, now back to it Mini You has just woken up (sound familiar?)

  • David says:

    Great read Jon. Unfortunately the IT Police mean I can’t watch the video as the site is on the **** banned list (Black List). I can’t even watch our own equivalent version……

  • Paul Smith says:

    It’s a hard life being a Warriors fan – as it is a recruiter. But with the bad, there is good (hopefully) – with the rough, smooth and yes, it’s hard to admit but deep down more enjoyable than a lot of other things. If all else fails there’s always modeling to fall back on – I might just leave the head shots to the pretty people and their frothy lattes!

  • Aaron says:

    What a load of bollocks. It looks like a horrendous place to work.