I’ve been reading a lot recently.
Similar to when I was watching a lot of films, I always notice parallels that could be drawn with the recruitment industry. Whether those parallels are with previous jobs I’ve held, the industry as a whole or the people within it.
Unlike other blog posts you’ll read where the analogical dexterity struggles to move away from The Wolf of Wall Street, these are perhaps a little more out of left field. Yet all the more apt.
A man loses his identity while living under a repressive regime. George Orwell’s classic novel, follows a government employee whose job involves the rewriting of history in a manner that casts his fictional country’s leaders in a charitable light. His tryst with a colleague provides his only measure of enjoyment, but lawmakers frown on the relationship – and in this closely monitored society, there is no escape from Big Brother.
Ever worked for a company where their image is so important no one ever seemingly leaves out of choice? They either “couldn’t hack it” have “moved abroad” or “were let go”. It’s strange when you hold a farewell party for a colleague who’s “moving to Switzerland” and see them in the pub the following week with some new colleagues.
If you spend enough time in this company you’ll find yourself not just playing along with the charade but actually leading the parade yourself. There’s an element of being institutionalised, and an element of Stockholm syndrome. Everything’s monitored. From your KPIs, to call times and even time spent at your desk. There’s no escape. You become a person you don’t recognise and certainly don’t like. It’s like the thought police are trying to take over and you’re now a part of the machine. The only pleasure you get is talking to a colleague about how crazy it all is, but even that’s frowned upon.
Then you escape. And realise, not everywhere’s like this. In fact, not many places are. Why didn’t you get out sooner?
A God-like man who has the midas touch and an unprecedented talent for magic’ing up results out of nowhere, recruits pretty much everyone he speaks to charting unprecedented growth for the brand. Winning over everyone except his fierce competitors, an international conglomerate, founded in Rome. After a period performing as the leading company in their market, smaller competitor brands arise headed by original disciples out to make a name for themselves.
Although from the Middle-East, everyone assumes this young modern day Recruiter is white, middle class and he does very well, very quickly. After he moves in-house he goes from strength to strength. You might think that just because he only has the one client he’s never going to reach the sky-high limits he set previously. You’re wrong. He’s a pioneer of cloud technology and news of his miracle work is spread far and wide, often being hailed as a messiah amongst industry commentators.
All goes well until the main rival headhunts him and his days look to be numbered. In a shock to the status quo, his career at his old company looks dead in the water and he’s hung out to dry. Only for a counter-offer to be accepted at the last minute and he arises once more. To make up for threatening to leave he spikes the office water cooler with alcohol on Friday afternoon. Everyone rejoices.
In what was once North America, the Capital of Panem maintains its hold on its 12 districts by forcing them each to select a boy and a girl, called Tributes, to compete in a nationally televised event called the Hunger Games. Every citizen must watch as the youths fight to the death until only one remains. District 12 Tribute Katniss Everdeen has little to rely on, other than her hunting skills and sharp instincts, in an arena where she must weigh survival against love.
Ever seen a graduate assessment day? Usually held in a corner of the office separated from the large audience (office sales floor) by a thin glass wall. Upon arrival, each tribute (graduate) will be assessed by the baying mob with money exchanging hands on which of them will rise to the top, by stabbing each of the others in the back one by one.
There will always be a love story behind every one of these. You can see the inner turmoil of the young tributes weighing up whether to go for the job, or whether love will reign eternal (they normally go for the job). Only one tribute will win and it’s never the one you think it’s going to be on first impression.
The Great Gatsby explores themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change, social upheaval, and excess, creating a portrait of the roaring twenties that has been described as a cautionary tale. Sound familiar? Told through the eyes of a journalist who moves into a new area, his new neighbour emerges as a legendary figure who constantly gives to those around him. A troubled yet overtly generous man, the downfall of Gatsby is well charted but only mourned by a fraction of those he provided for.
A gregarious and consistent top biller befriends everyone in the company with his over the top generosity and kind ways. He’s a man of old fashioned principles who opens numerous client accounts and offers free rides on the coat tails of his success. He’s always first to buy a round and is toasted by new and old friends alike, despite not many knowing his true personality.
Onlookers view the generosity as weakness and over time feuds and ill-feeling rise to the surface. After a particularly messy incentive night out, his chief Researcher stabs him in the back and takes him for everything. His contract runners, his permanent fees, his client list and his candidate network.
This tale revolves around a fierce and harsh ship captain and his obsession with landing a huge whale, Moby Dick. The whale caused the loss of the captain’s leg some years before, leaving him to stomp the boards of his ship with a peg leg. The captain is so crazed by his desire to land the whale, he’s prepared to sacrifice everything, including his life, the lives of his crew members, and even his ship. Can he find and destroy his nemesis?
A bolshy and rambunctious owner of a recruitment company loses his best employee, Richard, to a huge business after he goes in-house. Rather than move on and realise there are plenty more fish in the sea, the owner becomes obsessed with revenge. Realising that if he’s able to retain the company exclusively, he’ll land a whale of a client whilst exacting sweet vengeance on the old employee he used to regularly stand on. In his pursuit, all of the current staff realise they’re on a sinking ship in a tide of uncertainty and end up in a battle for survival.
It all ends rather gruesomely and the business is unable to stay afloat after the battle for vengeance takes precedence over common sense. The candidate pool swallows them up on social media, and as the rats flee the sinking ship, the business is put up for sail.
Have any more books that remind you of recruitment? Send them in and they might make the next blog. Here are some more classic articles.
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Senior Researcher - Leadership & Technology at Arnold Ash Group