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“Never go back”, or so say sassy wine-drinking perpetually-single best friends in romcoms. Of course, this advice usually pertains to some misogynistic pig who shagged his secretary on a work trip to Vegas. However a similar sentiment extends to anyone returning to old territories. This week saw the inauguration of a mostly sane old man, replacing a totally insane old man as POTUS. Unlike any other President in history, Trump lacked the maturity to even shown up at the inauguration, although apparently left a note for Biden on a desk in the Whitehouse. I’d like to think this was useful information, like what day the bins are collected and who the electricity supplier is, but I’m guessing it was probably a crudely drawn spunking penis. Worryingly, Trump has also vowed that “We’ll be back” with speculation being he’ll either run again in 2024 or form his own political party. Here’s hoping this is his usual brand of populist bluster, however there’s a part of me that feels that no lessons would have been learnt, and should Trump go on to form a new party, his supporters would be a formidable force in any future campaign, especially if the left showed one iota of voter apathy.

With the NZ market bouncing back, we’re once again busy trying to fill actual roles here at Rice Towers. Yes, the first in what feels like 2 years. During our endevours, we often chat to  returning Kiwi recruiters in various stages of lockdown. Many of these people started with an agency in sunny New Zealand, before sharpening their chops in a London firm. In an industry where this background represents the perfect pedigree for almost all of our clients, you would think that these candidates would be walking placements. Unfortunately (for us) there is a fly in my invoice ointment. It seems that in recruitment, there is no shame in ignoring the sage advice given by the half-pissed man-hating best friend caricature that Hollywood likes to promote. Be it a perceived “safe option”, a slick and quick recruitment process, or the relaxed comfort of an old pair of slippers, many of these recruiters will either return to the agency they left in NZ all those years ago, or join the New Zealand counterpart of their London-based firm. They rarely go straight there however. Interestingly, many of these candidates contact us before rejoining said Global Recruitment Agency. Like a married man slipping off his wedding ring for one last night on the tiles. They might not sleep with any one, but they just need to know that they still could if they wanted to.  We have these candidates out on interview, they enjoy the flirt, but will typically return to their old paymasters at 2am.

So what’s the harm in “going back”? We’ll…first there’s going back and then there’s going back. Reuniting with your high school sweetheart 12 years after parting is actually very sweet and, in my experience, often results in a happy relationship. Continually bouncing back to a partner who treats you like shit is likely to have the opposite effect. Some people go back because after exploring other options, they realise what a good thing they once had. Some people go back because their self-esteem is so low that they feel they don’t deserve any better. They feel that although it’s shit, it’s shit they know. And that’s better than the alternative right?? Not being able to find anyone. The unknown. Something new and scary. The same rings true professionally.

There is a global agency in New Zealand who has a track record of snaring back their former employees once they’ve done their OE. Or even if they’ve never recruited in New Zealand but worked for the brand in London, they have a fantastic ability of hiring these candidates once they step off the boat. Now I’m not convinced that this agency treats their staff any better than most, but they seem to have struck the magic formula for hiring past conquests. Perhaps they bad mouth the competition? Perhaps it’s so dysfunctional that these recruiters all suffer under a collective Stockholm syndrome? Perhaps it really is just an awesome company. Whatever, it is, I’d love to know their secret.

So what do we think when we see same brand mentioned once on one CV? Personally, as a rule, it’s a net positive from me. Being a merciless, unscrupulous, and immoral recruiter, firstly it means that I know I’ll get at least one good reference for the candidate. If someone has spent a few years with a business only to return a couple of years later, it typically means that they’re actually pretty good at their job. And for the individual, sometimes, and through no fault of anyone, life becomes just a bit stale. The days of 15 years with one company are over. Why not make a change and learn some new things elsewhere? Leave your current firm with respect and dignity, and who knows, providing your boss isn’t an egotistical prick, you might return at some point down the track. There are instances however, where real shitty bosses have some kind of unexplained hold over their employees. I can think of a couple of recruitment firms in Auckland who, despite the hideous behaviours of the GM(s), they endear a weird kind of loyalty and devotion from their staff members. Like some kind of sex cult these are the abusive relationships of the recruitment world. Typically they pump out fantastic PR about what it is to work there, their leaders get awards or are shameless self-promoters, and the staff live in fear whilst plastering a stupid grin their face for the website photo.  Employees of these firms are often like rescue dogs. They’re so used to dysfunction that sadly, they can become quite troublesome when placed into a kind, nurturing, and supportive environment. It’s these guys I’m less keen to represent.

Anyway, that’s more than enough from me today. Not that you’re asking, but my advice? Stay, go, or return. Do whatever, as long it’s for the right reasons.