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This week, in a moment of sheer frustration I sat at my desk and began penning a poem ‘Today, I hate recruitment.’ Riddled with truisms about clients who engage with all guns blazing then never call back, sourcing woes and candidate behaviour that verges on harassment, it was an angst-ridden pile of word vomit not dissimilar to the stream-of-consciousness garbage I used to scrawl in my mid-teens (works of art, I assure you).

The fact is, some days even the best recruiters hate recruitment. Is this unique to our profession? Probably not. But it feels like when we hate what we do, we really hate it. We go deep. I have worked in other professions; had all sorts of other jobs – I started working at 13 and never stopped. My adult career spanned retail, insurance, hospitality and (briefly) childcare before landing at recruitment, and I can comfortably say that the low days in recruitment feel lower than those I’ve had anywhere else. Feedback from my peers is overwhelmingly the same. When things get stink for recruiters, they get really stink, the same way when things are good, they are insanely off-the-charts good. Within the industry, we refer to it as “Champagne and razor blades!” – usually with glazed eyes and a suspiciously manic laugh.

One could theorise for days on why this is and how it came to be. In a nutshell, I think it is this simple: The best recruiters have high EQ, compassion and genuinely give a shit. That’s how they got to be so good. But you don’t have those things without having feelings, and to be good – to work effectively, to beautifully align candidates and opportunities; to maximise commercial efficacy, be truly consultative, advise and engage and nurture and do it all with authenticity, warmth, personality and at pace – you must invest a lot of those feelings, and essentially yourself, into a recruitment process. Therefore, when the going is good, you soar right along with it.

And when it all goes tits-up? You’re devastated.

The fact is, we spend more of our lives at work than anywhere else. Work, however much we try to negate the fact, is inherently personal. And so it is that finding a job is personal. Finding new people for your team is personal. Earning money is personal. It’s a total no-brainer, then, that the whole sticky, tense, precarious process of finding a new job is emotionally charged, high-stakes stuff. And if it is that way for you, of course it is every bit as brutal for your blessed recruiter.

Or maybe I just have too many feelings.

The moral of this story? Be nice to your recruiter. I don’t mean every recruiter; some are dicks. I mean YOUR recruiter. The one who has invested a bunch of time in you, taken your calls at silly o’clock, counselled through the shit times; taken your problems on as their own and worked their butt off to solve them. Yeah. That person. Be nice to them.

Just have a lot of feelings

Natasha Foster

Recruitment Consultant at New Zealand firm Rice Consulting, shaking things up in the HR world. Photographer on the side, Te Reo student, rock climber and learner surfer. Most happy off the grid.

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