Ed Hunter: Five Things I wish I knew before I started my Recruitment Career

I remember the day that I accepted my first recruitment job.

I completed the “stringent” interview process with arguably one of the biggest agencies in the UK and I was so excited. Little did I know the land of placements, milk and honey was not as accessible as the trap door on a trainee recruitment desk.

It’s at the end of a maze, akin to something out of a Hollywood movie.

I know what you’re thinking…

‘This is a fairytale story where Ed becomes Divisional Manager, bills a million a year and marries the woman of his dreams.’

Well sorry to disappoint. I absolutely bombed. I hated every minute of my first job and was gone in 6 months.

The good news is what I wasn’t told – recruitment is different in every company and ‘finding the right desk’ is less about Feng Shui, and more about actually just working for a good company. Thankfully my fortunes changed and I found MY desk! But I recently thought about what other things it might have been nice to know before I started in this wonderful world:

1. In your first recruitment role – the odds of winning the lottery and earning the advertised “OTE” are about the same.

I was sucked in by a ridiculous “OTE” number for my first role and I remember reading the full commission scheme… Something didn’t add up (Namely the OTE figures). So I got out the scientific calculator. You know, that one mum bought you when she thought Maths GCSE was the Da Vinci Code, and I worked out what I needed to bill to earn the full OTE.

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If I had somehow billed this outrageous number, I would expect to be made a major shareholder in the business, a paid for car parking space in cannon street, my own personal toilet, as well as a four page spread in the UK Recruiter magazine.

2. You will eventually suspect everyone is lying to you.

I came into recruitment relatively trusting, and was able to see the good in people. These are qualities that I assumed were going to aid me in my route to recruitment world domination.

Little did I know that after your second temp calls in “sick” on a Tuesday after the long weekend – you lose all trust, empathy and belief in your fellow human. You may think that you regain all of them when you clock off…. I’m afraid not.

You go home and it’s just the same. My Ex-Girlfriend said she wasn’t getting on the same train as me one morning because she had had an early breakfast meeting. Instead of feeling sorry, I automatically assumed she was interviewing potential replacements for my role.

To be fair I should have chosen a better example. She was seeing someone else and I was replaced… So maybe this trait isn’t so bad.

3. 9 to 5 is just a song by Dolly Parton, nothing else.

‘Recruitment Consultant’ sounds like a decent office job with sociable hours. You soon learn that getting to the office at 9 is not only deemed late but is a sin punishable by a chat about punctuality during your immediate boardroom appraisal.

I accept that many other office jobs are similar now-a-days; but other office jobs don’t have you in the office making calls to people who said they were available at 6:30pm for a phone interview who have now become unavailable. This is usually because their phone hand is now occupied by a beer… see, I told you number 2 was real.

4. DO NOT date another Recruiter.

I can’t stress this enough – If you think office bitchiness is bad… Imagine coming home or going to dinner with your partner and spending the night bitching about 2 offices.

No… you need to date someone who has no idea what your talking about when it comes to moaning about crap Consultants, hanging on to suspect fee splits. Someone who has no notion of John ‘top-drawing’ candidates.

You’ll come home complaining about your crappy ATS system and go to bed hating one that you’ve never even used.

5. Becoming Senior or Principal just means new business cards.

I still remember coming in on my first day as a Senior Consultant. I had this image of people falling to their knees and bowing as I walked past. Secret breaks in a secret room for Senior Consultants. Discussing my plan for market domination with my Manager whilst junior Consultants fanned me and fed me grapes.

Nope – I walked in and nothing had changed – no new found respect, no secret room with hot tubs, free champagne or softer toilet paper. Just the same old me at the same old desk doing the same old thing. The only real impact it had on my life was that I had to spend 20 minutes on the phone to IT as I had forgotten how to change my email signature.


 

Mind you, if I had been told these things before, would I change my career choice?

Not. A. Chance.