24 January 2011

What I miss and don’t miss about recruiting

It's a question I am often asked during a break in a training or coaching session; ‘Do you miss recruiting, Ross?'

The honest answer is ‘sometimes'.

I loved almost every minute of my time when I was recruiting. For most of my 14 years running a desk (full time as a consultant, part-time as a manager), I was young, without significant life commitments and hungry to achieve.

So what do I miss from my time in (various) recruitment agencies?

1.    Colleagues: I developed fantastic friendships working alongside many like-minded people at my four different employers. It's been a thrill to see many of them successfully leave the safety of a salary and start their own recruitment business(es).

I am still in regular email contact with Keith Crossman, my City ‘split' colleague from my first few months at Hays in 1989 (and yes, he's still in recruitment). One of the people I used to manage (briefly) back in my Hays London days, Paul Marsden, went on to start, build and sell (for 17.5 million pounds) his own agency, Astbury Marsden.
 
2.    Clients and candidates: The thrill of placing an excellent candidate with any of my clients never left me. Watching both the client and the candidate have their expectations exceeded as they built their working relationship was very gratifying.

Many friendships were established that are still going strong. As one example, last Saturday I received a phone call from a one-time candidate, now friend, who I first placed in 19 years ago. He was calling to invite me to his 50th birthday party next month in Sydney.

In 1992 he was a Sri Lankan chartered accountant freshly arrived in the country. I interviewed him and thought he was an outstanding candidate and I placed him as a temp with one of my demanding banking clients (note: no ‘local experience').

From that small break he was able to go on to land a permanent role and start building his life in Australia with confidence.
 
3.    Bosses: I was immensely fortunate to have a string of bosses who, although vastly different personalities, were all people I learned an enormous amount from. Regular readers will be familiar with my stories about Greg Savage on these pages, but the roll call of other leaders I have benefited from working for include; Bronwyn Allen, Graham Whelan, John MacSmith, Andrew Marty and Geoff Slade.
 
4.    The competitive nature of the job: Having been brought up surrounded by immediate and extended family that worked predominantly in public sector jobs, it was a revelation to me how competitive a job could be.

I loved it! As a sports-nut who hated to lose, I was thrilled that I had found a job that was just as competitive as the sports field.

Arriving each day at work I was continually fuelled by striving to take on and beat my major competitors in the Sydney temp accounting market; Michael Page and Morgan & Banks. Setting and beating activity and dollar targets was immensely fun and satisfying.
 
5.    Building something worthwhile with others: In the early to mid 1990s I was part of a great team of people building the Sydney Temporary Desk at Recruitment Solutions. Bronwyn, Michelle, Jocellin, Mark, Andrena, Bianca, Roslyn, Angela, (another) Angela, Heather and Edwina were just some of the outstanding people I was fortunate enough to work with in building a great  temp business in a highly competitive market.

Establishing the Recruitment Solutions business in Adelaide, from scratch, with Nicole in 1999 and 2000 was pretty special too.

And what don't I miss?

1.    My colleagues: I worked with a few first rate idiots, narcissists and alcoholics. They made my life a nightmare. When they send me Facebook Friend requests, I delete them.
 
2.    Clients and candidates: The liars, frauds, and the unhinged were thankfully, in the minority but they made up for it by elevating my stress levels. The shareholders of Ryans Bar and The Customs House had much to thank these people for.
 
3.    Bosses: Hmm. Let's just say that my sole bad experience was so bizarre and freaking awful that I needed therapy to get over it. It was only many years later, after I read the book Snakes in Suits; When Psychopaths go to Work that I realised what I was on the receiving end of.
 
4.    The competitive nature of the job: Year after year of competing hard, every day, is tiring. Fourteen years was my limit.
 
5.    Building something worthwhile with others: When all the blood, sweat and tears is flushed down the toilet by a few moronic decisions made by a couple of clueless people, then you wonder ... why did I bother and why did I  care? 

In mid 2003, when I resigned from my last recruiting job, I was the father of a 4 year old and a two year old. I was attempting to keep a crumbling marriage afloat (I failed) and I was itching to test myself outside of the only job I knew.

I was ready for something different.

Seven years later, I feel I have the best of both worlds; I get to work with interesting and talented recruitment owners, leaders and consultants, I attend plenty of recruitment industry events and I get to be my own boss without having the stress of managing all the things that come with clients, candidates and generating and filling vacancies.

However long your time in recruitment is, cherish it. You will only truly appreciate it once it is gone.

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