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Handling the Triumph and Disaster of Recruitment

By March 9, 2017No Comments

For many New Zealand recruitment companies (and most UK ones too) March marks the end of the financial year. It’s a time of high stress for all involved. In a financial results driven industry like ours, we are in the final few days’ countdown to making those last ditch placements to finish the year off on as strong a note as possible.

Recruitment managers are sweating the small stuff, breathing down the necks of consultants who have promised billings of a certain level, looking over their shoulders at the big bosses overseas who they agreed a budget with eleven and a half months ago.

Recruitment is sometimes referred to as champagne and razor blades which is never truer than at this time of year. Because of the lurching, roller-coaster, high stakes nature of our game, where the whims and vagaries of unpredictable humans can make such a difference to either billing large fees or all the work being for nothing, the mentally taxing nature of recruitment is significant.

Nevertheless, it is often given very little credence. The attributes we look for in recruitment consultants who can “cut it” and who can “make the grade” most regularly centres around sales skills, the ability to build relationships, negotiating skills, competitive drive and, sometimes, the tenacity of the recruiter – how willing they are to keep going back for more despite the frequent knock-backs.


The only problem with tenacity is that, whilst it is indeed a valuable trait in a recruiter, unless it is paired with resilience then you’re going to quickly find yourself with a burned out, punch-drunk recruiter on your hands. Those without tenacity usually give up on recruitment inside the first 3 months. But those with tenacity, but not enough resilience to match, are the valiant intermediate recruiters who have stuck with it, but found themselves burned out, resentful of the recruitment process, and often (wrongly) thinking that life will be much better in an in-house role.

Earlier this week we took a reference check on an agency recruiter who is moving into an in-house role and his referee spoke a lot about resilience. This candidate, pleasingly, had plenty, according to the referee. A relief, given the green grass of in-house recruitment is probably even more demanding and stressful than agency recruitment, just in different ways.

The American Psychological Association describes resilience as:

“…the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors.”

The very nature of recruitment means it’s impossible to avoid workplace stress. We’re all control freaks in a job of unpredictable outcomes, like Adele fans in a Guns n Roses concert. So what matters is how, as a recruiter, you can adapt and keep on keeping on.

Whether resilience is something you learn through adversity as a child, or is a skill you can develop later on in life, is still up for debate. We’re going to have a go at the latter in the next Quarterly#RicePowWow coming up on 30th March, where we have Jacqui Wall from Umbrella talking to a room full of recruiters about some tips and tricks about how to develop resilience while running a busy recruitment desk.

Resilience at work

We still have some spaces left so come along, it’s always a great night of networking and learning.  RSVP here.

I’ll finish up this week with something that I believe has helped with my own resilience levels, an excerpt from Rudyard Kipling’s poem If- that my Granddad once sent to me, a useful reminder of how to balance out the champagne and razor blades nature of recruitment:

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

…you’ll be a Man, my son!”

Have a good Friday and hopefully see those of you in Auckland at the PowWow.

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.