The ups and downs of recruitment

There’s been a lot of talk on LinkedIn about recruiters lately. Most of it, coming from those outside the industry, has been negative, leading recruiters to become quite defensive. While I won’t be weighing in on the debate, I thought I’d share my own personal perspective on the matter for those interested in joining the industry.

I suspect that many people may be considering a career in recruitment. They may have heard about the industry’s buoyancy and seen glamorous photos of recruiters flaunting their new cars. However, don’t be fooled by the promise of trinkets and candy. I’ve had a wide range of jobs – from engineer to publishing at The Economist (yes, it was a great time, but printing The Economist isn’t too different from printing The Beano) to even being a rat-catcher at Rentokil (which also included tending to indoor plants and women’s washrooms and traveling the world like an idiot) – and I can tell you that nothing is ever quite as grand as it appears, and life will certainly give you a good kick in the rear if you take things for granted.

Recruitment, like any other industry, has its ups and downs. However, I would argue that they are more pronounced in recruitment.

Here are the top five “downs” of the recruitment industry:

  1. The industry is driven by the economic cycle. This means that many recruiters who are doing well right now and feeling invincible will get a rude awakening when the economy slows down again. If you’re excellent, you’ll survive, but it may age you prematurely.
  2. There are low barriers to entry. Becoming a recruiter is easy (although I didn’t say becoming a good recruiter was easy!). All you need is a phone, a laptop, and some level of intelligence. This attracts individuals looking to make a quick buck, and among them, there will inevitably be some fools. Tread carefully.
  3. The industry is full of experts who are looking to make a name for themselves and set trends. If they can attract a crowd, they might get lucky. However, they often set false expectations and some people follow them. Take “Collaborative Recruiting,” for example – no, wait, scratch that.
  4. It is the most complex job I have ever had with people – and I’ve had quite a few! You have multiple customers (both the candidate and the client) who have complex needs and wants. You must extract these from people and bring them together in harmony. It’s like juggling custard, and it’s more challenging than it appears. If you’re not good with people or asking direct, meaningful questions, then you should consider becoming an astronaut.
  5. Stuff happens, all the time. Most of it is stuff that you couldn’t have anticipated (like a candidate not starting a new job because their dad fell gravely ill and they have to rush off to Spain). You must have absolute resilience and determination to keep going. Some people will tell you that “listening” is the most important attribute, but sometimes, you must fight for every inch of progress.

Despite the downsides, there are some significant upsides to recruitment as well:

  1. You can earn a decent salary if you work hard and have a good sense of judgment.
  2. Achieving success is a fantastic feeling, particularly when people appreciate your work.
  3. You must be quick-witted, which can be very rewarding. It keeps you on your toes and sharpens your mind.
  4. You’ll come across some fascinating and amusing people. Ignore the dullards and focus on the ones that interest you.
  5. You will develop some valuable life skills, as well as excellent technical skills. This will serve you well

Do you agree ? It’s a job not for the feint hearted , we earn our money if we are good at what we do. I’m happy to discuss further. What experiences have you had with a recruiter good or bad? Give me a shout if I can help or if you are a recruiter looking for somewhere different?