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If you’ve been about Auckland City this week, you may have seen a sweaty 100kg man flying around on a moped. One minute, sweating under the sun like a paedophile in a playground, and the next, as wet as an otter’s pocket. That man was me. Having temporarily taken over the agency rec to rec desk, I’ve been busying myself with a seemingly endless amount of client visits. Call me old fashioned, but I have this archaic belief that to successfully place someone into a Recruitment Agency, I kinda have to visit the recruitment agency. Twee I know. Anyway, apart from my high blood pressure, it’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve realised a few things also. Firstly, offices are really f*cking nice these days. Once upon a time, any CBD office was enough to suggest a degree of professionalism and to some degree, success. Nowadays, a low ceilinged, cubicle lined, beige monstrosity on Albert Street is not nearly enough. You need break-out areas, swear words on the wall, bars, pool tables, glory holes, the works. The other thing that has struck me, is the level of diversity. No, I don’t mean that old wooden ship, I mean how diverse recruitment agencies are in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, dress sense, piercings, visible tattoos, and backgrounds. This has been a refreshing surprise and has also caused me to rethink how we operate.

Once upon a time, rec to rec was much simpler. I wouldn’t say easier (it’s never been easy – thanks a bunch guys), but certainly simpler. 10 years ago, there were only a handful of (stereo)types of people who worked in recruitment. Our job was to match this type, with the equally stereotyped businesses, and hey presto, providing the candidate wasn’t a liar, drug addict, pervert, or psychopath, we’d have a placement. This week I’ve realised that we have been adhering to these stereotypes for far too long. And because of this, we haven’t been expansive enough in our thinking on who our clients might actually employ. The offices I’ve visited have been a fantastic mix on the UN, United Colors off Benetton ads, and the Paralympics – and it’s got me fired up to introduce the weird and wonderful to whichever business I feel would embrace a high-billing transgender goth. It wasn’t like this a decade ago however, so for a bit of Friday fun, let’s have a look at how we used to do it.

The chippy English backpacker:

Fresh from Bondi after your visa ran out, now plying your trade as a charity mugger/paintball salesperson, you think you can do any job. With no interest to be a Candidate Manager, you feel that you’re more suited to Principal IT Consultant servicing ASB. You are of course not, but your confidence and naievity will see you through. Hays will give you the training you need to channel this exuberance into a profitable recruitment desk, and if you can last a couple of years without crashing a company car whilst drunk, you’ll have a good career.

The blue-suited male from a “good family”:

You probably have a name like Hamish, and are friends with semi-professional cricketers. You went to a good university and have spent some time in London, where you worked for a global recruitment firm or in a junior role with an investment bank. We introduce you to one of two firms, depending on the school you went to, and you of course know some of the senior team. Or your dad does. In terms of which school, the formula was simple. Kings College = Michael Page. Other semi-posh school = Robert Walters

The girl who interviews in a suit jacket:

Nice hair, straight teeth, and a bit too much makeup but just right for having some corporate photos taken. You already own some nice suit jackets that you pair with a skirt, not trousers unless it’s a Friday as that’s “a bit lesbian”. You want to be surrounded with other young females with equally nice jackets (well, not quite as nice as yours), and enjoy going for a couple of glasses of wine after work before driving home (this is 2012 remember) because you did have a big lunch. You’ll probably go to Madison or Graham Consulting and love it.

The lovely woman:

You are a woman and not a girl. You like the arts, and are probably taking a course somewhere – maybe pottery or Italian, as you are planning a sabbatical (to Italy, not Stoke-on-Trent). You were part of that complicated amalgamation of businesses that became Hudson which spawned so many recruiters, and you know everyone. You’ll probably go to Frog on internal, perhaps with a tertiary education provider.

The athletic achiever:

You believe that a healthy body equals a healthy mind. Your suits are sharp enough to show off the fact that you work out, but not so tight as to look like one of those muscly Aussies with sh*t sunglasses. You see Recruitment as a profession and work hard to master your craft, and probably do Toastmasters to that end. Lunch is eaten at your desk, and is from one of those expensive salad places that sell $10 fruit juice. You’ve run a marathon, and can’t understand those who haven’t, and you’re all set to work at a 2012 Potentia.

The former (semi)professional sportsman:

You went to Otago before playing at provincial level or above in Rugby or Cricket (not some dubious “sport” like water polo or football). Your parents were farmers, but the kind that own farms, not milk cows, and you’re also probably a Hamish (but it’s OK to call you “Hame”). All your friends are former sportsmen, but that’s fine because one is doing very well at Heartland Bank, and a couple of others have got into construction, so you’ve got clients. You’d like your gravestone to read “I like my hunting, I like my fishing, and I like my rugby”. You don’t say “love” as that’s a bit..well…you know. You’ll go to Stellar, or another quality Construction and Engineering recruitment firm, and spend your days saying things like “how about those ABs?”.

Anyway, I could go on all days with these, but I’m hungover, and haven’t done any Christmas shopping. Thankfully, we’ve all come a long way since, but I think it’s worth remembering that our opinions on who our clients would hire could be a decade out of date. Mine certainly were.