First Month in Recruitment – Is it Really the Dark Side?

I was sitting in the Starbucks on Princess Street in Edinburgh on the top floor. There were only a few people in, it was early. There was the usual mix. A man quietly typing away in the corner getting a head start on his emails. A younger woman caught that perfect picture of her Starbucks cup set against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle out the window. It was a nice view I had to admit. 

I was wearing my lucky blue suit, although I was past the point of needing luck really. I’d been through two interview stages and whatever happened now was out of my hands. I was a bit nervous of course but internally calm and ready to accept whatever the outcome was going to be. I really wanted this job, and the reason was clear to me now. 

Job searching is exhausting. Like, really exhausting. It’s terrifying. When you are employed, you feel safe and secure. You have people to ask questions to, people to bounce off against, people to direct you, people to affirm things you say. When you are job searching, however? You feel alone. Every time you submit your CV or application, you press one final button and… it’s gone. A moment of silence. Your life is scribed out on a piece of paper sent to someone else that you may never meet and never hear from again. It can feel quite lonely. Then it’s onto the next one, and the next one, and the next. Four pages of filling out your details followed by a link to upload your CV anyway? All this whilst the stress of unemployment sits patiently at the back of your mind. Ready to pounce whenever you hear a news story about the rising cost of living or the threat of another lockdown.

It’s all worth it though for the response. An email, a phone call, and a LinkedIn message to finally start the process. I have been through some fantastic processes. Interviews with professionals at the top of their game have asked questions that have challenged me, made me think, made me reconsider why I want to pursue certain things, and question my own abilities and strengths. Interviewers who talked so passionately about what they do, so much that you’re shaking with excitement at the prospect of joining their team at the end of the conversation. 

Then there is the other end of the scale. The awkward interview. The email with the wrong information. No reply. No feedback. The truth is that job searching has unbelievable highs and extremely frustrating lows that leave you dejected and sent all the way back to square one. 

There must be a way to change this.

There must be a way to calm the storm, bring in some sort of order to proceedings. Support and help people through the process leaving them not dejected but motivated at the end. If your employee had an internal interview for a promotion, you wouldn’t just give them feedback and ignore them, would you?

Now I’m on the other side. The recruiting side. The ‘Dark Side’ as so many people have joked to me, and even I have used that in recent small talk to explain my move, without really thinking about what it meant. But what does it mean? Lightsabre duels with clients? Finding out my boss is actually my father?

My first month at Global Talent has been anything but dark, and in fact, has had more clarity and vision than I could have expected. It has been about learning everything I need to calm this storm. To carry people through the process in a methodical way and not just drop them at the end but leave the door of communication open.

I have split up my learnings into the following:

  1. We are Human.

This is real life. Things happen beyond anyone’s control and the best we can do is adapt to the situation and follow our principles. When we speak to people on the phone or in person, we are speaking to someone that could be facing any number of situations and dilemmas, so ask about them. Show empathy, and get to know them. Spend a good amount of time listening and not just selling what you can do for them. 

  1. Be personable.

Every interaction you make in a day is important. Everyone you meet is a person going through whatever situation they are going through, and your attitude, words, and actions to their matter. Thank the candidate on the other end of the phone for taking time out of their day to speak to you, and actually mean it. Spend some time speaking to the cleaner in the hotel you are working in. Ask the barista working in the coffee shop what he’s doing at the weekend when you go for lunch. Take a genuine interest in what your client is doing that day. Because at the end of the day, what is the point in anything if you don’t get to know a bit more about those around you. Information is king and you could learn something about them that can lead you to help them in a way you wouldn’t have otherwise known.

  1. Trust the process.

We are not just throwing things at a wall and seeing what sticks. We have a professional and methodical process, and we stick to it. We must be flexible of course, but people feel safe when there is a structure. This process includes regular communication with everyone you speak to and a consistent and professional structure that can’t be rushed. When it’s rushed, mistakes happen. Typos are sent. Calls are missed. Details are left. When that happens, it affects real people.

  1. Be professional.

Your job is not just to keep the business going, but it’s to be the face of the business and present yourself in a professional way to those around you. Details matter. Your freshly ironed suit matters. The way you start an email does matter. There is something to be said for ‘old-fashioned’ etiquette that isn’t really old-fashioned at all. It is just good business sense and good manners. People will remember a smart, professional interaction. They will forget a lazy and disorganised one instantly.

  1. Look after yourself.

In the last few years, self-help and self-love have been at the forefront of the conversation which can only be a good thing. I have been encouraged to take a full hour for lunch and sent for a walk to get a coffee after staring at a screen for too long. There’s no better feeling than your boss finishing a phone call with: “Enjoy your evening to yourself. See you bright and early tomorrow”.

The reason I believe in all these is that this is exactly how I have been treated since joining Global Talent 2020. I received my contractual documents on time, bought a brand-new laptop and phone in the first week, received some of the most in-depth, excellent 1-2-1 training I have ever had, been made to feel welcome by every single employee, and shown flexibility to work around my other commitments. (I even received a birthday card signed by the whole team, a gift voucher, and the day off!)

I have seen first-hand what recruitment can be. It’s not the dark side at all. It can safely guide people through job search misery and motivate them to start a brand-new part of their career. It’s our job to act as that guide and keep them informed at every stage, offering feedback and consultation. We are also salesmen for our clients. We need to know our brands inside and out in order to excite people with the opportunities they offer. 

My potential boss appeared, warmly greeted me with a smile, and sat down across the table. I was actually very nervous now, although ready to hear the answer. Was it going to be back to square one or full steam ahead? A sudden wave of relief came over me.

“We’d like to offer you the job”

Written by Ben Jones