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Applying Your Recruitment Superpowers To Real Life

By February 9, 2017No Comments

Every time I browse through Netflix nowadays there seems to be another film or TV series about seemingly normal people discovering they have hitherto undiscovered superpowers. ¬†Things like The OA, Daredevil and Sense8,¬†and doubtless countless more all tap into the boring drudgery of many people’s modern lives and briefly light the imagination of what it might be like to be something more, something better.

After a few years in recruitment many of you will have developed superpowers of your own too. Sadly they haven’t yet been proven to be quite as useful as in those TV programmes, but you never know where they could lead you one day.

The powers of which I talk are the ways in which years and years of plain old recruiting make your mind approach regular, real life, everyday occurrences in a slightly different way, with a slightly different mindset and solution.

Do you guys know what I mean? Have you ever taken stock of a way in which you fixed a problem or made a decision or found a solution and thought about how only a recruiter would do something that way?

An example from a few years ago was when my house was on the market and the estate agent was struggling to find enough buyers (imagine that nowadays – and no it wasn’t because it was a complete hovel – but it did have an onerously steep driveway). Anyway, after reading an article in the paper about a house hunter who was struggling to find something on the North Shore for under $600k (haha imagine those days…), I put her name into LinkedIn and found her contact details there. Our estate agent was impressed, pleased, surprised when I presented him with a name and mobile number and suggested he call her, while he sat passively waiting for people to apply to his advert in Property Press.

More recently we were interviewing people at our home to be house sitters and look after our house and dog while we go back to England later in the year. All those years of smiling and nodding and ice breaking whilst gently but insistently probing for truth in interviews comes in handy at times like this. One couple we met were lovely, charming, very assured and had plenty of recent experience doing this for friends, but something just didn’t add up about their situation. On the verge of offering them the “job” we did some digging around the past companies owned by the gentleman involved (after finding his real name which was slightly different from the one he introduced himself as), and discovered his business had failed after an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office and his failure to deliver on a government contract that had been awarded to him, despite extracting huge sums of money from the company before it went bust. We offered a different couple instead.

Another ex-recruiter I know (ok it was my wife) used her powers of sourcing and social recruiting recently to name and shame a boy racer who’s been annoying the neighbours for a long time now. Through some posts on a community page and some subsequent referrals and name gathering she found the guy’s Facebook profile resplendent with recent photos of him showing off in front of his souped up car in the local area. For a seventeen year old his horror at finding his photo publicised on the community pages was surprising, but not as much as when he was told we knew that he worked as a plumber, and suggested his job was probably dependent upon him retaining his drivers licence.

Mean? Over the top? Perhaps…but at least he has effusively apologised and the kids on our street will be a little bit safer now. We’ll also personally thank him and wish him well if he keeps the noise down for the next few weeks as a result.

Like all superpowers, they can of course be used for evil too. And sadly us recruiters, especially the real tragics, can sometimes get it wrong. Like annoying all your friends at a barbeque by turning casual chit-chat about “so what do you do?” into excruciatingly awkward career advice. Or responding to your best friend’s excited announcement about their new relationship with some “research” quickly done on their new fling revealing some rather less appealing traits and past relationships.


But hey it is what it is. Recruitment for most can become an all-consuming passion and pain all at once. For many it’s impossible to switch off the recruitment powers the minute you leave your desk, as much as many would probably like to. So you might as well try and use them for some good, from time to time.

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.