Ed Hunter: The Art of Recruitment Escapism

Hello again Recruiters. Glad to have you back. Because it’s January, you’ll no doubt be reading a lot of productivity articles.

A lot of them offer great insights into how you can hack your job. Some of them are excellent reads, with really useful tips. Some of them aren’t.

The tough thing is, in recruitment you rarely get time to think. There’s a real lack of ‘me time’. So I decided to go against the curve and give you an anti-productivity article. All of these hacks will help you to feel more human and get more personal space.

1. Take up smoking

There was a time when smoking was acceptable in recruitment offices. Thank god that time’s behind us. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a legitimate excuse to leave the office.

If you’re able to ignore the obvious health warnings to the contrary, this could be a real game changer. Think about it. 5 minutes every hour provides minimum 45 precious minutes by the end of the day. Plus you’ll make more friends, and potentially get more illnesses. Which means more time off work. Win. Win.

2. Arrive late. Leave early

This is the opposite of advice you’ll normally receive in recruitment. Some people get away with it every single day. And it helps if your boss is attracted to you – for better or worse. Whatever time everyone else gets in, aim for that plus ten minutes. Leave your coat by the nearest hook to the door, and walk in nonchalantly. I can’t stress how important that part is. “It’s all about the confidence.” 

If you’re lucky your toilet will be close to the door too (they normally are). So 10 minutes before the end of the day, strut in that direction. Pick up your coat you planted earlier and off into the wilderness!

Triumphant business team cheering and celebrating

3. Meetings. Meetings. Meetings

Ask your boss what the best time to book a meeting. They’ll say in your lunch hour, or at the end of the day. Like, 7pm.

Don’t listen to this advice. The best time to book a meeting is 4pm. Obviously. Ideally in an awkward location. Booking meetings is actually a great thing to do anyway. Meeting your network will work wonders for your billings. And “How’s 4pm?” is your new mantra.

Learn it. (note: If you work somewhere with super strict office hours like ‘Micky Page’ make this 5pm).

4. Get a semi-serious injury

There’s a skill to this. You want something fairly embarrassing or private to limit the questions. Something that needs regular physio works nicely. Alternatively when you think your immune system is low, nip into a doctors to pick up a leaflet. You’ll likely contract something trivial.

Or… Any time your boss asks “what’s up?” choose from the à la carte menu of airborne illnesses.

“You’d better stay at home then.” Gutted. 

5. Take your full lunch hour

A lot of recruitment companies will frown upon this. Especially in the UK, I’ve worked out. So if you’re in the UK, in a company that does, push your luck until someone mentions it.

Take an hour for lunch, armed with the stopwatch on your phone. Then when you’re back in the office, eat at your desk. You’ll be amazed at how refreshed you are when you hit the phones again.

Attractive business man leaning back in chair, with legs on desk while chatting on the phone.

6. Step away from your desk

Didn’t you send a CV to your colleague 4 weeks ago? Probably worth checking up on it. Noticed a client that’s hiring? Discussion time.

Many people will call you at your desk from a few feet away. Don’t stand for that. Unplug or break your phone if you have to and just use your mobile. You’ll be healthier for the extra exercise too. That’ll counter the 10 fags a day you’re smoking. Probably.

7. Get a standing desk or unnecessary yoga ball seat

Standing desks will make you healthier. They’ll also give you more me time. As the possibility to adjust these things is never ending. Bringing your own set of allen keys or spanners will add a certain depth to this ruse, and leave your boss unable to question your faffing.

Remember to stand back and scratch your head at least once per adjustment. Then adjust again.

8. Mess around with the printer

You know what’s annoying? Having to fix a broken printer in order to print off an urgent CV you (for some reason) need printed.

No one uses paper CVs anymore. Paper itself is becoming less and less used. But I guarantee, every time you do need something printed, the damn printer will be on the fritz. Ask a colleague for assistance to buy you more precious minutes, before giving up to “have another look later.”

Business man opening photocopy machine in office

9. Suggest a meeting, to discuss the upcoming meeting

Senior Management in your recruitment company will LOVE meetings. They no longer bill but rest assured at one time, they were top dogs. THE Recruiter of their industry. Therefore they have PLENTY of advice for you. Normally irrelevant, archaic practices that worked in the eighties. 

Ask them what they’d do in a ‘run of the mill’ situation, then listen to the same advice they gave you last time. It won’t even be phrased in a different way. Classics include: discussing the upcoming meeting… asking them about the “recruitment funnel”… how often you should be on the phone… and whether they think you’re living the ‘brand values’ enough.

10. Go to the toilet. For an hour

Nothing says “I’ve got an issue I’d rather not talk about” than disappearing for an hour to the toilet. No one will want to bring this subject up with you. If they do, you don’t even need any words. Just shake your head and pat your stomach. Job. Done. 

Now you have loads more time to complete level 129 on Angry Birds. Sort out your gmail, finally. And plan the festivals you’re hitting this year.

11. Use a headset

This is a great little hack. If you’re a music fan or like listening to podcasts, you can do so right in the middle of the office and hide in plain sight.

Simply plug your headset into your mobile phone or computer. 

Then, every so often, nod your head in agreement, and reel off a recruitment catchphrase like: “OK. What’s your current package?” If someone tries to talk to you, just give them the finger. No, not that one. The Recruitment finger, the magical index finger that indicates you’re doing something incredibly important and can’t possibly listen to anyone else.

Doing this to your boss adds a certain “je ne sais quoi” – no one would pretend to be on a call in front of their boss.


Now, all you need to do is think of things to do with all your spare time. First suggestion: take a look at The Best of Ed Hunter and relive some other classic articles.

You’re welcome Recruiters. You’re welcome.