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Lockdown Lessons For Recruiters

By July 10, 2020No Comments

2020 sure has been one hell of a ride. Before we get into today’s blog, I just wanted a quick recap of events leading up to our current situation. There’s a lot to get through, so take a deep breath…

Australia sets on fire, USA and China argue, fuel prices crash, the UK vote in bumbling posh bullying liar, man eats bat in china, man gets sick, doctor who says this is bad news is silenced, china in lockdown, world decides slowly to maybe go into lockdown, UK Posh PM finally devalues UK passport, Wotsit coloured US president tweets dumb racist shit, UK Prince decides he doesn’t want to be a prince, bat flu worse than we thought, world gets sick, Posh bullying UK PM gets sick, Sweden ignore it, Swedes die, Brazil ignore it, Brazilians die, New Zealand doesn’t get sick, international press masturbate over Jacinda, Mike Hosking not happy, New Zealand goes back to work, Mike Hosking not happy, Racist Cops kill black man, #BLM, idiots respond #ALM, marches, riots, statues gone, older UK kiddy-fiddling Prince gets nervous (but doesn’t sweat), Wotsit president holds rally, no one comes, knob-head Brazilian president gets sicks, UK decides to give up on lockdown to enjoy the summer, US never really understands lockdown, more die, crazy rapper with big-bummed amateur pornstar wife runs for president. And we’re only just past the halfway point.

Crazy as it has been, I don’t think there are many of us who could say that we haven’t learnt something over the last 6 months. Whether it be the importance of reconnecting with your family over lockdown, or who the “key workers” really are, hopefully we’ll spin out of this year wiser than ever before. The tough lessons learnt this year can be summed up by now-racist-former-hero Winston Churchill, when he said I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.”

Here’s what 2020 has served up for me so far:

Sometimes we just need to shut up: Recruiters are famous for talking when we should be listening. I do it all the time. It’s a real hoot. Lockdown, and the ensuing recession, should have taught us that there is a time and place to brashly call a random hiring manager to tell them you’ve got the perfect candidate for a job you’re not recruiting. Now, my friends, is not that time. Right now thoughtless BD calls are not what will get us through this. And nor are those “I’m a concerned recruiter calling to make sure you’re OK even though we’ve never spoken before” calls. Just stop. Please. Now’s our chance to play agony aunt and uncle to all those candidates who have been our currency when times are good, not flog said candidates in the general direction of a non-hiring manager.

Recruitment is a sales job: When the economy is booming, you really don’t need to sell, or at least not to clients. We are like crack dealers on a “dry” British council estate. We’ve got the product and people are buying. There’s no need for high quality baggies and impeccable customer service. Smack heads will take their hit off a tramp’s bumhole. However, when the market flips on its head like it just has, recruitment is stripped back to its core competencies. And if we look at the recruiters who have lost their jobs first, it’s those in Account and Candidate Management roles. It’s not fair, but it’s the way it is, and to quote Cool Hand Luke/Guns’n’Roses “I don’t like it any more than you men”. So if you can’t sing for your own supper, you may be in for a rocky time.

The grass isn’t always greener: I met my accountant the other day, and he proposed that Australia had managed to contain Covid-19 as well as New Zealand, but without being so draconian in their lockdown, will emerge economically stronger. He was arguably correct at the time. Fast-forward to last Wednesday and Victoria alone yielded 190 new cases, and Melbourne has regressed 217 years to when it really was a penal colony. Being in litte ol’ NZ really isn’t so bad. And if I look at many recruiter’s CVs who were plying their trade during the glory years, they’re more hoppy than a box of frogs; moving from one firm to the next the second someone wafted a higher basic or better commission plan under their nose. This was fine once upon a time. However, with the recruitment industry returning to year dot, it’s these people that will wish they had some longevity on their CV. The lesson? Sometimes you’ve got to stick around, make it work, and appreciate what you’ve got.

No one owes us shit: My fiancé is a Doctor. She gets a regular income regardless of the economic climate. She also gets, regardless of promotion, a small yet significant pay rise each year. She also works ridiculous shifts and has to tell unsuspecting people that they are going to die soon. This is the life of a doctor. This however, is not the life of a recruiter. The life of a recruiter is more swashbuckling. We work in an industry with huge earning potential – certainly more than a Doctor – with no need for 6 years of hard study. However, we also need to swallow the fact that we must take the rough with the smooth. We don’t just earn more when times are good, we also have more options on where we work. Right now, most of us are earning less, and some of us are out of work without a job to go to. And it’s tough situation for all. However, we do not have the right to claim that our clients owe us work and that the world owes us a living. That is not the life we chose.

Don’t count your chickens: Every junior recruiter has totaled up the billings for the candidates they have out on interview and imagined what they will  do with the money. Some of us have even vocalised that we’re “on” for a $**K month. Once you’ve been doing this for a while, you realise that you’re not “on” for anything. Not until that candidate walks through those doors on day one, with a signed contract in hand are you “on”. In fact, you’re still not truly “on” until that candidate has survived their three month probation period. The US was “on” for developing a Covid-19 vaccine by now, Sweden was “on” for saving their economy by pretending Covid wasn’t a thing, and Australia were “on” for a trans-tasman bubble. Look where that got us.

Be good to people – when times are good and bad: This is probably the biggest thing we can take from 2020. Think of any busy environment. Be it buying drinks at a concert, cheap knickers in a Primark sale, or fast food after a night on the turps. Customer service plays second fiddle to speed and efficiency. Do you care if the barman is surly if he pulls you a super swift pint? When things are slow however, we all have time to think about how people have treated us. Us recruiters who were purely transactional when times were good mostly got away with it. However, as the market tightens tighter that a gnat’s chuff, we won’t stand a chance. Instead, what little work there is out there will gravitate to those who didn’t take the piss when making money was easy. The same will happen in reverse of course. Those recruitment firms who slashed headcount brutally early, may find recruiter’s memories are longer than they assumed when the market booms again and they need to hire. We shall see.

That’s enough from me today. Have a good weekend and don’t go shopping if in quarantine.