December 15th and still no festive blog from me. I promise I’ll do one, but with deals still to close, and the last day of the year being a Friday, I’m planning on spunking my Christmas load next week and not before. Instead, this week I’ve been musing on the characteristic of successful recruiters. More specifically, the twists and turns of my life recently have got me thinking about what other professions show similarities to how we make our money.
One of the more obvious, and perhaps derogatory comparisons is that of a used car salesman. Or, as we call it in 2023, a “salesperson“. Typified as the ultimate “wheeler dealer”, with a reputation for selling shiny things that go kerchung-bang before they get to the Gull, this comparison trades off our reputation as being unscrupulous, money-hungry sharks. Indeed, come the end of quarter, there are some recruiters who would do anything to get that immediate start across the line. Be it fake a reference, a promise of a pay review on three months, or sugar in the gas tank, sadly there are some of us who want to win at any cost. However, much to the surprise of many candidates, most recruiters I know (and that’s a depressingly large amount), are actually really good people. And, having started my career as a car salesman (we used “man” and not “person” back then because…well…I’m old), the same could be said of the used car sales team. They were just regular people trying to do deals by selling good cars at a decent price. The big difference lies is in what we sell. Selling a car is comparatively simple in that a car doesn’t turn round at the last minute and tell you it doesn’t want to be sold. Alas, candidates have spent the last three years doing this.
The other group we’re most often compared to is real estate agents. As mentioned previously, it is the twists and turns of my recent life that inspired this post. Y’see I’m currently trying to sell my house whilst simultaneously buying a new one. This is, as you would imagine, a f*cking laugh a minute. Especially when you have a dog, a two year old, and relatives about to descend for Christmas. I have also witnessed the extremes of “service” offered by real estate agents. From my agent who has been excellent, to theirs who has been as much use as fart in a colander, there seems to be a huge gulf between those who proactively work on your behalf to get the best price for your home, and those who lazily bung up a TradeMe ad and wait for the phone to ring. Sound familiar? Likewise, I’ve discovered that people take the valuation on their home as personally as they do their salary. I spent over a thousand dollars on an independent valuations only to be told by the owners that it’s over $100k out. Their valuation was based on that fantastic and scientifically proven metric called “gut feel”. Like a Recruiter, it is a good Agent’s job to bridge the gap between what someone wants, and what their home is really worth. However, negotiating is only a small part of the real estate agents world. There also seems to be a lot of mindless faff. Driving to West Auckland to essentially open a door for someone. Chucking a blanket over a bed in a considered manner and stacking 50 cushions above it. Ringing me incessantly to ask if I’m ready to list. And all of this on zero basic. For sure, there are similarities, but there’s lots of difference there also.
This week I witnessed first-hand the profession which I think demonstrated the skillset most similar to a high-performing recruiter. Not a car salesman, not a real estate agent, not an IT sales rep, not a marriage councillor, not a back-street abortionist. No. This week saw me on jury service, and as I watched the criminal defence lawyer defend the undefendable, I thought, “Yep – he’d be a million-dollar biller”. The case in question was a real juicy one, and given that it never reached its conclusion due to some bombshell allegations dropped by the key witness whilst on the stand, I only got a day of fun. However, it gave me a real insight into what the job of a defence lawyer really is. Firstly, it has little to do with justice. And even less to do with the truth. What a defence lawyer does is to take some provable events, and weave a narrative around them to plant seeds of doubt in the jurors mind. Starting small, and seemingly without purpose, a good defence lawyer turns black into white one pixel at a time. They, or the one I witnessed at least, are absolute masters of persuasion. This lawyer took the Auckland Council internal recruiter who doesn’t use agencies down a path to spending $110k with Sheffield. The Crown, represented by a young lad fresh out of Uni obviously thought they had an open-and-shut case. Speaking from a seated position, they mumbled their way through proceedings with all the charisma of heartburn. The defence lawyer, on his feet, holding strong eye contact with me, the foreman, resplendent in his flowing robes, with the dramatic pauses and theatrics of Kenneth Branagh, was irrepressible. Whether he was defending justice or not, we never found out. However, his ability to take some information and craft a story, turning day into night was without question. I can only imagine the fear he would put into a candidate who considered accepting a counteroffer.
Anyway, that was my week. I’m still on the tools until next Friday, and I promise a big festive load then.