Am I soon to be the last remaining recruiter left without a tattoo? With conversation in our own office around Sean Walters’ upcoming sleeve tattoo opus joined this morning by news that internal recruiting maverick Mark Sumner is getting himself inked soon too, it’s starting to feel that way.
When I started in recruitment at Hays it seemed to me that recruiters were a pretty formal, corporate and conservative bunch. This I guess spun out of the industry’s roots in recruiting Accountants and Bankers for the big end of town. Of course it only took me a few days to realise that it was all a facade. Behind the scenes I found most recruiters to be delightfully rogue, slightly unstable with questionable morals. It was, and is, an ideal industry for the more maverick and mildly unhinged elements of the corporate world. And if you’re not when you start in recruitment, you will be in no time at all.
But it all stayed behind the scenes, behind the partition walls, hidden behind a gleaming logo, some glossy brochures, some random pot plants and a fake-smiled backpacker receptionist. Because to the clients of recruiters, we presented ourselves as the most ivy league and preppy of Big 4 Accountants, but behind the scenes we were able to kick back and reveal our true colours, as it were.
As fashions change I suppose recruiters getting themselves inked is just a continuation of this theme. The dark blue suits and striped tie look is now a rare appearance for recruiters, in Auckland at least, and often reserved for the global big-brand behemoths that fear freedom of expression and behaviour from their recruiting foot soldiers. In my own firm we haven’t worn suits for over 18 months now and it’s not made any noticeable difference to how we engage and do business with our clients and customers.
(very cool) image credit: Jessie Edwards www.jessieedwards.com
But what, I wonder, is the general consensus about this flesh art starting to creep beyond the traditional limits of corporate clothing hems and collars? I had to push hard with a client last year to accept a recruiter who had a visible tattoo on her foot. Another recruiter I knew many years ago as a formal, suited recruiter, recently returned from Sydney with a sleeve tattoo that extended onto the back of her hand. It was beautifully done, but was a step too far for most of my current client base. Sean himself interviewed a recruiter this week who displayed the most paradoxical of character traits: tattoos on her fingers, but seemingly devoid of personality (maybe she just didn’t find your gags funny Sean). As an internal recruiter how much would this limit her corporate recruiting career path?
My own opinion is that it shouldn’t matter. If you’re a quality recruiter then that’s all that should matter. In fact I actually prefer recruiters bold enough to display their tattoos, despite having no inclination to follow suit myself.
I imagine it’s still a step too far for most recruitment agencies and in-house recruitment teams though.