by Abhik Damani
“The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter. It's not always clear why” – Does Mr. Ollivander’s famous line from the Harry Potter series hold true for recruitment?
We’ve all been there – budding sales people looking for jobs. I can say with a reasonable amount of confidence after being in the industry for close to 2 years that more than 50% of recruiters didn’t actively make the decision to get into recruitment. You will not hear the story of an inspired 20 year old who woke up one morning with the conviction to join the club!
So, why join? What is it about recruitment (the toughest sales job to remain and succeed in, in my not-so-humble opinion) that, for lack of a better word, lures us? I think that can be explained with 3 main points:
There are over 3000 recruitment firms in Singapore alone. Let’s face it, we aren’t getting any younger and we need a means to an end. Like a wrapped Christmas present (I make this reference because I got the job I am currently in, in the Christmas of 2014), the prospect of being a head-hunter comes at you and seduces you with its fancy jargon – “people management”, “high commission”, “account management”, the list goes on – into a formidable black hole. Having said that, recruitment isn’t rocket science and neither does it require you to have a PhD in Psychology or Human Resources (could be a little advantageous), or even a degree for that matter. I would say a good recruiter, at least at face value or on paper, should have 2 things – the ability to be both persuasive and sufficiently aggressive. I’m sure you all would agree that we have an abundance of such “talent”. This brings me back to my point – ease of availability of recruitment jobs in the market.
Debatable, to some extent, but this can’t be ignored. It again depends on the type of role you are in (in recruitment) – candidate or client facing, research or complete 360⁰ recruitment. I have accumulated quite a few friends in recruitment in the last 2 years, and quite a few (ahem) not-so-friendly acquaintances as well. Why? Well, because recruiters talk, if for no other reason than that they just need to TALK. Yet because of that, I have understood the market and realized my position within Volt. The liberty I have at Volt is unparalleled. I know this because I have been prospected on several occasions. As a result of my independent stature in Volt in my area of recruitment, I have established a relationship with some of the big guns in my field of work, both from a candidate and a client perspective. So much so that most of my candidates and clients work exclusively with me, provide me inside information and have even offered to act as referees for me in the event that I decide to pursue an MBA in the next few years.
Dealing with people isn’t easy. Ask a parent, a teacher, an upset girlfriend or anyone with an emotional range of more than a teaspoon. Recruitment isn’t any sales job. We are dealing with people – they are our fundamental resource. And that should say it all. I’m not selling you a pen, an iPhone, a vacuum cleaner; I’m selling you a person, a people (well not really selling, but you get the idea) and there comes the problem – the one thing we are all accused of doing at some point or the other in our lives. We lie. We lie to our parents, our partners, our employees, our bosses and we have our own justification – the greater good as some may call it. Breaking down a person, understanding their perspective, convincing and manipulating (to some extent) them is our job. Trust me, in this job, you’d get more rejected than a guy who just hit puberty and going around asking girl he sees. The rejections are real and over time we realise not to take them personally. This fuels emotional growth, making us better partners and better humans. Not everything we hear needs a response and recruitment will be your best friend in teaching you that.
I’ve learnt to deal with these challenges and enjoy them. I’ve matured as a recruiter, an employee and a human over the course of these years. This has to be one of the best takeaways from this industry. As Dylan Thomas taught us not go gentle into that good night, I’m ready and already facing the storm.
I conclude as Mr Ollivander concluded – “But I think it is clear that we can expect great things from you”, for great things you can indeed expect! I didn’t chose recruitment. Recruitment chose me.