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Thank God for Clichés

By December 6, 2018No Comments

Blogging after a Rice PowWow is always a challenge. I’m always torn between hoping that New Zealand’s premier recruitment networking event will throw up an interesting topic, and the reality of having to write five hundred words with a stinking hangover. Thankfully, after having the same conversation with the umpteenth recruiter last night, inspiration struck.

We are all prone to using lazy clichés when responding to often-asked questions. Perhaps it’s our brains’ way of conserving energy for life’s deeper thoughts; like how much creepier would Santa sound if he said “He He He” instead of “Ho Ho Ho”. Standing in a room full of recruiters last night highlighted how far you can get in this industry without relying on original thought. This is by no means a criticism of the recruitment industry however. I am one of the worst offenders. Like sniffing your ex-girlfriend’s old pillow, there is something deeply comforting in the tried and tested. And I’m sure it’s not unique to recruiters;  a room full of lawyers, mechanics, dentists, tailors, candlestick-makers would be the same. Each industry, like the rituals and handshakes of the Freemasons, has it’s own language, a secret code, which we all follow. Recruiters, clients, and candidates alike – we make our lives intentionally shrouded in fog via inference, insinuation, and euphemism. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here’s a few of my favourites:

“I’ve had/we’ve had a record quarter”

If a recruiter is asked how business is going, he or she is contractually obliged to state the above. Disregarding that record quarters probably died the day the GFC bit, anyone new to this industry better learn that every quarter is a record. Clients like to back winners, and you my friend are a winner. Now get on that phone and let’s close some deals etc etc etc.

“I might be moving to Melbourne next year”

Every good candidate is moving to Melbourne next year. Always next year. And next year, yep, you guessed it, they will be moving next year. Like a carrot on a stick hanging off a donkey’s head, for most, the dream of Melbourne is always a year away. How incredibly frustrating this must be.


Unlike the old maxim that no news is good news, silence to a recruiter is never good. A candidate not calling you after an interview. A client ignoring your barrage of voicemails. A recruiter not calling a candidate back. It is never a good sign. Thankfully, as recruiters, we’ve developed a coping mechanism for this. It’s called lying to ourselves and it works a fucking treat.

“It’d be great to find out more about your business”

This is a line used by slick agency recruiters to get client meetings. It is absolute genius. You see, the client has never heard this before. They are mightily impressed by your desire to learn about their business. How could they expect your ulterior motive of just trying to win business? That sigh and slight squelch of rolling eye-juice is just a tick the Internal Recruitment Manager has. Go get ‘em champ!

“Let me tell you about why we’re different”

Should you get your client visit from the above (and you will do my friend), this should be your opening gambit. Ignore the fact you wanted to find out about their business and launch straight into a Battle of Helms Deep style assault on your client’s ears. Mention the size of your database, the networks you’ve built up in your four month recruitment career, drop a name of someone who no longer works there, and as the piece de’resistance, drop the Fat Boy on Nagasaki – the salary survey. KA-BOOM! Unconditional Recruitment surrender.

Image result for atomic bomb

“They’re perfect, but can we see a comparison”

Clients will say this. It’s like that time you needed some new shoes for an event and you had a specific pair in mind. You looked all over town and online, and just as you’re about to give up, you spot the exact pair in a shop window. They’re not just perfect, but they’re in your size and the only pair left in stock. You queue up and then realise that there are 15 people behind you all wanting the same pair. You get to the counter and say “these are perfect and the only pair in New Zealand, but I’m not buying them because I’m a total moron, but I’ll look at pairs I don’t like and come back tomorrow when these are sold and be disappointed in you”. You remember that time? Do you?! DO YOU?!

“I’ll be sure to call you”

Read: I’ll never call you.

“I had some time to think over the weekend and *….*”

*insert bad news here*

“We don’t use agencies”

Read: We do use agencies. We don’t use your agency.

“I was thinking I’d be more suited to internal”

Isn’t everyone when they’re having a crap quarter sunshine?

“They were good. Not great. But good.”

The thinking man’s rejection. When a client says this, he or she means it’s a “no”. However, they are probably a parent and understand that saying “never put a cretin like that in front of me again” can be somewhat demotivating. Instead, they break it to you gently and fuel you with false hope that you can sneak this one in for the month. How kind. Purveyors of this also created the famous “shit sandwich”.

“mumble mumble mumble culture fit mumble”

Buildings have fire exits, S&M fans have safe words, and hiring managers have “culture fit”. The ultimate get of jail card to mask your own prejudice. No further explanation seems to be required.

Enough of my ramblings folks. We’re almost there, so keep on keepin’ on.