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Last night saw me, courtesy of the nice folks at NZME, at “Fight for Life”; arguably New Zealand’s premier boxing event. I’ve always been a boxing fan, so please excuse me for a slightly cliched¬† “isn’t recruitment just like *insert sport here*” blog – I drank more than my fair share of wine at the event, so please cut me some slack this morning. For those who don’t know much about the sport, boxing events in New Zealand typically work as follows: A bunch of former League, Rugby, and radio DJs, are pitted against each other, peppered with a smattering of actual professionals who fight each other at a higher, yet arguably less entertaining, level. Typically, the Kiwi-based professionals and half of the “celebrities” are trained by one gym, with the opponents being provided and trained by a host of other gyms. Think of it like a home advantage in any team sport. The “home gym” typically win most of the fights, with the other fighters being provided as “opponents”. This is how boxing works globally, and unless you’re watching a title fight or title eliminator, the outcome of a fight is largely preordained by this “home vs away” scenario. Do not for a moment think that boxers who have a perfect record have taken on all comers on an even playing field.

Last night’s “home gym” was Auckland’s Peach Boxing, ran by a plumber-turned-trainer Isaac Peach. Peach Boxing is currently New Zealand’s pre-eminent boxing gym, having a number of world-ranked (and now one world champion) boxers within its stable. As goes the narrative described above, it was unsurprising to see the Peach Boxing fighters win a disproportionate amount of fights last night. Like most sports, training (and trainers) are everything in boxing. Boxers like Tyson Fury, who was a slick mover but with no power, metamorphosis into KO artists seemingly overnight by simply changing trainers. The fighters provide the hard work and athleticism, but it’s the trainers who shape the style. They are the directors, and the boxers are the actors. In the instance of Peach Boxing, Isaac Peach produces knock-out artists. Fighters who throw bombs from the opening round, with little concern for the damage that is inflicted on themselves. You can guarantee that if it’s a Peach Boxing card, somebody is gonna get hurt. In fact, everybody is.

Don’t worry, this boorish crash course in boxing will be over soon, but first….time for an unpopular opinion. Isaac Peach is a terrible trainer. He will never produce a male boxer who will win a significant world title. Mark my words, and this is why: being fantastic at knocking people out is fantastic when fighting at Oceania level. At Oceania level however, you are predominantly fighting guys who spend their days on Fulton Hogan’s stop/go sign and their nights demolishing family buckets. At a world level, you need to defend yourself against people who are equally good at knocking people out. And “defence” is not in the Peach lexicon. Therefore his fighters, excellent as they are, are products of their environment. An environment where sparking out moonlighting electricians is the order of the day.

“What on earth does this have to do with recruitment Sean?!”

Good question. If boxers are a product of their coaches, recruiters are a product of their environment. And like the defenceless boxers of the Peach stable, the environment we’ve experienced over the past few years is going to produce sh*te recruiters. Hear me out…

Since someone ate a bat/the Chinese released a man-made virus, the recruitment world has halved. I don’t mean we have half the roles, or half the revenue, or half the clients. I mean most of us do half the job. Much like the (mostly incorrect) view of Internal Recruiters, Agency recruiters have been order takers. The need to do any true form of business development has been removed, and instead, we spend our days either trying to source candidates, or coaching candidates on why and how to turn down counter offers. For those of you who have been round the block, this has been a refreshing change. However, for those who joined the industry recently, the environment has created a skewed skillset. A skillset that is all about candidate sourcing and management, and most definitely not about picking up the phone to a stranger and offering recruitment services.¬† And this isn’t just my view. More Agency GMs than not tell me that a number of their Consultants are about to have a rude awakening as the market shifts from opportunity rich/candidate poor to just poor/poor. The ability to pick up the phone, chase an ad, float a CV is a lost art. And it’s about to be highlighted. I can already see it in the briefs (job briefs I mean, not high-leg bikini) that my clients give me. Last year it was all about finding Candidate Managers. This year, everyone wants experienced 360 Recruiters who are sales-focussed and can work a cold desk. Unfortunately, most agencies offer “ad-hoc” training, and ad-hoc training always focusses on what’s in front of you. And this has recently been loads of job orders and no candidates. Winning new business has been a curse, and the new breed of recruiters are shaped by this environment.

Grumpy as this sounds, it is also great news for some of you. If you have a natural passion for winning business, or like any number of sex acts, you gain a perverse pleasure in a sometimes painful activity, the world is very much your proverbial oyster right now. So much so, that if you love selling recruitment solutions, you should probably give me a call.

Until next time.