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And I’m back. Some of you may have noticed that the whiteboard marker has been wielded by pensmiths Mr J.Rice and Ms A.Lee over the last few weeks. The reason being was a much needed bit of R&R in Fiji for yours truly. To be frank, it’s been one hell of a busy six months, and as much as I profess to be more machine than man, this was a holiday desperately needed. I could feel myself in my final week getting increasingly short with clients and candidates alike, as I manically tried to ride the bucking bronco that is agency rec-to-rec. When you get to this stage, you can either try and push through until you end up mailing anthrax to counter-offered candidates, or hop on a three hour flight and drink your own weight in cocktails. Thankfully for my candidates, I like pina coladas. My views on getting caught in the rain and making love after midnight in the dunes of a cape are not pertinent to this blog.

Mentally checking out is no easy task for any decent recruiter. In fact, if you have the ability to leave your desk at 5pm and not think any more about recruitment, then you are destined to be a very happy person, and a not particularly successful recruiter. Tell me I’m wrong. If you want to be a good biller, you need to spend your evenings worrying that your competitors are covering off your candidates on roles you could fill at 11pm. That’s the curse we carry. And if you live this life, then decompressing for you annual holibobs does not happen at the first shout of “Bula!”. For me, it usually goes as follows: Arrive > Can’t stop thinking about work > Think about the negative parts of my work and what I haven’t done > Totally stop thinking about work > Think about quitting work and living in the country I’m in > Forgetting about the negative side of work and deciding work isn’t so bad > Home. This represents a successful break.

It was whilst inĀ  the work “isn’t so bad” stage that I started reflecting on what it was that makes recruitment fulfilling. I’m not talking about what makes it fun. That’s going to the pub on a Friday lunch time and not returning – something I haven’t done in a long time (much to your surprise I’m sure). I’m talking about the bit that when you’re laying in your speedos in a tropical paradise makes you think “yep, I made a difference there”. After several Fiji Bitters, I decided what it was for me.

The bit that makes Recruitment truly fulfilling is placing a candidate in a job that they wouldn’t have considered, and/or certainly would never have been offered, without your involvement.

Sadly, this is something that a good number of recruiters actually don’t get to experience. This is why: When you start in recruitment, you’re like a scared little mouse. I don’t care how confident you claim to be, when you make that first BD call, or do your first phone screen, any confidence you appear to possess comes straight from the SW “Fake it ’till you make it” School of Bluster & Bullsh!t. This is understandable. For the first year, you are focussed onto putting a round peg into a round hole. The client wants this, so you give them this. If you introduce that, then you’re failing at your job. Some recruiters never step out of this limited mindset. Instead, spending their lives trying to fill the exact brief, too scared or too unwilling to say “hey Mr/Mrs/they Client, I know you want a .net developer in Auckland, but there’s just something about this cleaner from Dannevirke that I think you’ll love”. We’re all probably guilty of this sometimes. How often do we not brief a candidate on a role as they’ve said they want something quite different, only to see them pop up on LinkedIn a month later doing a job they said they wouldn’t? I’m not suggesting we waste peoples’ time, but surely our job as recruiters is to expand the mind of both our candidates and clients in a way that can really change peoples’ lives. I’ll give you some examples.

I once convinced a business support recruiter to be an IT recruiter. I then persuaded an IT recruitment company to hire a business support recruiter with no New Zealand experience. This recruiter is still an IT recruiter, billing a load of money, and loves her life. Every week I have numerous agency recruiters come to me to “go internal”. Many I have persuaded that the issue isn’t agency recruitment, it’s the agency they work for. Many have stayed agency-side, with a more suitable firm, made loads of money, managed teams, and set up their own successful companies. It would have been easier just to put the square peg in the square hole, but I don’t reckon that’s what it’s all about. What earnt a bit of money for me that has long since been spent, has made a fundamental difference to someone’s life to this day. And these deals, not the tap-ins, are the ones you remember when laying on a beach in Fiji.

Anyway, if you’re feeling good, bad, or indifferent about being a recruiter currently, there’s no better way to celebrate or commiserate than by hanging out in a room full of other recruiters. Luckily for you, this month sees the return of New Zealand’s premier Recruitment networking booze-up, the Rice PowWow. Tickets are shifting pretty swiftly this time round, so click the link, get your ticket, and come and check out my tan lines.