I spend a lot of time interviewing recruiters and ask a pretty wide range of questions depending on the situation. But a pretty consistent one is probably the most obvious: So what (on earth) got you into recruitment in the first place?
The most common answer, as probably happened to most of you reading, is that you fell into it by mistake. Often by turning up to interview for a different job and being identified as someone with the right mad glint in the eye and talkative tendencies for the industry, and being offered a job in that firm as a recruiter.
I had a different one this week though that gave me cause to reminisce: A recruiter who’s Mum ran her own agency, and had been a bit bored and unchallenged in her post Uni exploits, decided she “might as well” give recruitment a try and joined her Mum’s firm… Two months in, first placement was made, and she told me that the Recruitment Bug bit.
Do you know that recruitment bug? Do you remember when it bit you? I’m not talking about the cockroach kind of bug that Craig Watson’s recent blog suggests, or rather explains, quite well why all recruiters are in fact cockroaches (we are resilient that’s for sure). I’m talking about that jolt of emotion that first grabs you inside and courses through your body when you made your first placement. That bug that, once bitten, makes you want to keep coming back for more, no matter how much sh*t most recruiters put up with on a daily basis.
What is it, then? It’s a mixture if things I think. Pride, competitiveness, greed, ambition, relief and a deep sense of satisfaction rolled up into one. It’s Valium for the agitated recruiter soul, soothing our fragile egos and desperation to please.
I still remember when I got first got bitten. I was only 3 weeks into recruitment. After 2 weeks training in Sydney I had a one week handover with the guy who was leaving and who’s desk I was taking over. He was off to join one of his clients, getting out of recruitment, but had negotiated a reduced fee to bill to that client for his own placement there. So he left, it was chucked up onto my part of the whiteboard, and I had some numbers to show alongside the scrawled revenue results of my colleagues. I’d barely done a thing, but it didn’t stop me feeling bloody good about myself, and was able to rapidly kick on from there.
Looking back before recruitment, I can see that this emotion isn’t something unique to what we do. I also still remember the first time I sold full collision damage waiver on an Enterprise Rent-a-Car parking lot in Downey, Southern California. The recipients, a friendly Hispanic family getting into a red Chevrolet Blazer SUV for the weekend, were probably more nervous than me.
So I guess it’s just something that is part of the make-up of people who have the right mix of drive, fear, energy, and ego to be good potential recruiters. There’s probably a good lesson there for managers looking to train and develop new recruiters too. Work hard with new recruits to make sure they get their first runs on the board as early as possible, no matter how small or insignificant. Then, and this is the key, watch them closely to see how they react. You’ll know if the bug bit them by their ensuing behaviour.
If their eyes light up then WHAM: you’ve got a potentially great recruiter on your hands.