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This week it finally happened. Actually, scratch that. It didn’t just happen once. It happened three times in one day. For the first time since this whole bat thing kicked off, we’ve been hit in the pocket due to vaccine mandates. On Thursday, a candidate under offer from a mandated business informed us they weren’t vaccinated, and then two more walking placements also revealed their unvaccinated status. And you may think I’m getting ahead of myself – candidates don’t always or often equal “walking placements” right? Wrong. In this current market, if we can’t place experienced, available, successful Recruiters, then we really shouldn’t call ourselves recruiters at all.

This blog isn’t going to be about my views on vaccinations however. Those are well documented elsewhere (short read – get vaccinated). Instead, I wanted to save my already-too-high blood pressure and the online vitriol of some hairy-fannied conspiracy nut, by looking at the practicalities of trying to ply your trade as a recruiter without those tiny, safe pricks in your arm. Here’s some thoughts with as little judgement as I can muster.

Client meetings

We have clients who have vaccine mandates onsite. So do you. Increasingly however, meetings happen over Teams, so I can see how the unvaccinated could claim this isn’t a barrier. However, it is very hard for us Recruiters to be as good as we can be if we don’t eyeball a work environment for ourselves. Is it distressed-walled Britomart chic, or 1970s Portacabin beige? And at the top end of town, most businesses expect a Recruitment firm to pitch in person to get on their poison chalice PSA. More to the point however, even if technology can make it work, in a city with about 98% of people double-jabbed, an unvaccinated Recruiter will have to say to a most-likely vaccinated client “Sorry I can’t come and see you. I have a totally different understanding of healthcare, science, and civic duty to you”. It’s gonna be tough.

Catch ups in coffee shops

The terms “catch up for a coffee” is often used and rarely followed through on. Except if you live in Wellington. Wellington is a city perpetually fuelled by coffee. If you can’t sit there with black-rimmed spectacles, guzzling Supreme, whilst avoiding talking about Recruitment for at least the first 3 meetings, then you’re a nobody in that town. Sitting in your underpants on webcam with a cup of Nescafe just doesn’t hit the spot.

Assessing Candidates

If you’ve been in Recruitment long enough, you’ve do doubt put forward such an inappropriate candidate that the only feedback given has been an incredulous “Sean, have you actually met the candidate??”. This is never a good day. Not meeting candidates in person used to be the gold standard for shite, crooked, lazy, unscrupulous recruitment firms. However, things have changed. Most of the world has been in lockdown for so long, that we’ve given up meeting face to face. And so have our clients. And guess what? It’s made no discernible difference. In fact, there’s an argument to say we’ve became more inclusive in our hiring. We no longer care about a weak handshake or dodgy shoes. We actually ask questions and judge people on the answers. Plus one to the unvaccinated.

Client drinks

It is much easier to hire for someone you’ve shared a couple of beers with. You understand them more, and they forgive you more. And it is mostly fantastic fun. However, there are recruiters who don’t drink, so maybe it’s just me.

Team Drinks

Not going on team drinks is possible, but it’s rarely a luxury afforded to the new boy or girl. If you’re the “family man” of the office, providing you have some raucous tales of your single past involving midgets, cocaine, and a now-Recruitment GM, you can usually sneak off home. For the newbies, even if teetotal, a couple of orange juices with the team is typically a requirement.


An interesting one. The idea that a new starter in a Recruitment team wasn’t trained onsite was once preposterous. Since Covid, we have placed many candidates who were onboarded remotely. If you need someone next to you to train them, you probably rely too much on paper – and that’s your fault and it’s 2022 and the interweb has been around for years.

WFH full-time

This is a biggy. It is very hard to hire an unvaccinated recruiter unless you have a full-time Work From Home policy. Making a favourable exception for someone who has chosen not to protect their colleagues would certainly ruffle the collective feathers of the rest of the team. And if you have a business where you all work from home, then why pay an expensive lease? If you haven’t moved out of your office already, then it’s likely that you value the collaboration, fun and frolics that an office offers. And this doesn’t work for the unvaccinated.

So to conclude, if you’re an unvaccinated recruiter, it’s going to be tough. Given New Zealand’s employee-favouring employment laws, your best option is to probably stay where you are. You might not be popular. You might bill a bit less. But you may be too difficult to get rid of. If you’re looking to move job, or trying to get into the industry, then you need to find a Recruitment firm with an equally wacko Manager. And when it comes to us helping you find a job, I question if any firm is going to pay us $12,000 to recruit such a headache. I can’t say I blame them.

Have a good weekend and get that booster before Omicron hits on Sunday.