I was in a pub the other day when I got chatting to a young gent at the bar.
“What an incredibly snazzy shirt” I winced.
“Oh hey thanks man, appreciate it” he replied, misunderstanding my point. We talked for a while. Turned out he was a recruiter.
“Ah, kindred spirits then” I said with acknowledgement.
“Nah, I’m sticking to beer tonight mate” he gulped.
I glanced up to see whether he was joking, but nope. No idea. But then he said something which made me sit up.
“Know that Ed Hunter? He’s proper funny man. He’s so real ain’t he.” And it was at that point I walked off.
I did so for a few reasons.
Firstly, his shirt was giving me square eyes and drawing unwanted attention from the surrounding crowd.
Secondly, his wit was so sharp I was worried I’d stub my toe if the repartee continued much longer.
But most of all, because he called Ed real.
A cartoon wolf.
I know what he meant of course. But the moment I go from silent assassin to the real world, I fear for the sanctity of Ed. The beauty of this character is, he’s not real.
The power’s in his anonymity.
I can take down villains and call bullshit without fear of recompense. So if you ask anyone in the pub again whether they know, are or read Ed Hunter, and they look bamboozled and sharply leave. It’s almost certainly me.
Anyway, what I’d like to call bullshit on today is the awards given out year after year by every recruitment business in the world.
Some people have these awards at the end of the year. But our agency operates around the financial year. And as April’s just finished, they were dished out recently, to much fanfare.
Here’s what they should’ve been.
Where else would I start? The heralded spot. The head honcho. The numero uno. Everyone in the business wants this award. All others are irrelevant. And that’s because even if you ‘win’ a Rolex as Top Biller, you’ve already got enough cash to buy your own.
But… let me just explain something to you…
The Top Biller award’s given to the person who makes The Boss the most money.
You’re head bitch.
It’s the Teacher’s Pet award. But winning this one takes more than a polished Pink Lady carefully placed on Teacher’s desk each morning.
It takes the best years of your life and rewards you with a timepiece. A really accurate timepiece. Just so you can work out, with pinpoint precision how much of your existence you’ve given this place.
I’ve won this award a few times. If you win it, sit down. Work out how much you took home, minus that from billings. That’s how much your boss takes for doing jack shit. Divide your number by 240 (working days in a year) and that’s how much your boss gets, every day you spend at work.
Now, every time you hear your brand spanking watch tick, you’ll know it’s another mugging, taken by a person whose ratio of holiday requests to acceptances looks like a Grad’s CV to placement ratio.
Still, well done.
I’ve worked at a few agencies in my time. And you’d think if you’re top perm consultant, you’re likely to be top biller too.
That’ll be someone from contract. You’re probably not even close. And as I’ve said, there’s only one winner really. The boss. Giving out an award for Top Perm Consultant’s like awarding Best Effort at sports day. No one cares and despite the trickle of applause, everyone pities you.
They might as well actually reward the best perm. Everyone loves a strong lid in this game.
And if it was Best Hair, it wouldn’t be going to any women. Some of my male colleagues’ hair makes me question my own existence at times. Then again, having a perfect barnet every waking minute takes far more effort than banging in a few perm deals.
It’s time someone noticed your efforts, right?
I know what you’re thinking. Perm’s just won, it’s contract’s time.
Con doesn’t stand for contract in my awards. It’s the best lie. The best ruse. The top stitch up.
And my word, there’d be a few to choose from. It could be hoodwinking the new guy into thinking newbies pick up breakfast throughout their first month. It could be convincing your client the new hire definitely won’t leave just after his probation ends, despite your unwritten agreement.
Or, it could be the time you told your boss everyone loves him, and jumping off the roof wasn’t the answer.
Either way, best con would bring out all the stories from the year and not celebrate someone merely doing their job.
“Well done, you’re the least mediocre in the room!”
Similar in nature this one, but goes that extra yard to reward consistency in approach.
Yes, you can pull off one huge heist that gets you Top Con, but the devil’s in the detail. The little pranks that make life worth living on a daily basis. An air horn under the boss’s chair. Teaching the office dog to howl at the phone ringing Telling a Resourcer the MD wants to see them in the boardroom.
This is the bread and butter of recruitment. Time to start rewarding it.
I’ve known a few players in my time. But none as adept and skilful as my old colleague John.
His ‘number of placements’ was knocking on the door of 400 and every woman in London knew about the size of his pipeline. He thought ‘BD’ stood for Bedroom Debauchery. And I’m not just slating recruiters here. Because his direct dial rang far more often than he dialled out. His clients were worse than him.
He was one of those people blessed by the gods. He was a terrible recruiter. And never did anything for the good of the team.
But my word that guy knew how to play. At least by having awards like this, the cloak and dagger element of recruitment dating would disappear. I’d also estimate it’d be an even split between the sexes for yearly winners. Answers on a post card.
This award’s given to one person, and one person only…
The Manager who doesn’t bother their team with KPIs, forced fun, nonsense team meetings, irrelevant forecasting or daily standups.
If you’re able to be a decent human being and just get out the way, this award follows.
Well done. You’ve mastered management.
Remember going through school?
There was always a girl with a terrible mug. Nothing wrong with that of course. We’re all ugly in our own way. But this particular girl would scare toothpaste back in the tube, had she used it.
Everyone knew who you meant by the ironic ‘Sexy Lexy’ (apart from her of course).
But, at some point during the summer of year 9, the tide changed.
Sexy Lexy got hot.
And all those years of distancing yourself suddenly became folly. You put good ol’ Lex in the friend zone aged 10. And now, she’d put you in the ‘used to be friends, but he’s kind of a dork’ zone.
The rising beauty of Lexy was inversely proportional to her personality. As she got better looking, she became more a dick.
This is like the Most Improved award in recruitment. There’s always one person who comes to the business, bright eyed and bushy tailed. They’re happy on a Monday morning. Delighted to perform any task and will happily make tea for all.
6 months in, it’s all change.
They pour vodka on their cereal. They talk in mumbles. They’ve got a permanent five o’clock shadow, no amount of foundation will hide. But my word, they’re good at recruitment. They’re on their way to the top. If only they could kiss arse like the current top biller.
This award’s normally given to whoever’s left in the Accounts office at 17:05.
No one really knows what goes on back there. Your Accounts Payable’s like a rottweiler, which helps with clients. But you don’t dare go in there unless it’s with good news.
The clock strikes 17:00 and a stampede of rabid monsters thunders through the room, dragging their knuckles, foaming at the mouth for the nearest exit. So perhaps whoever’s left in that office deserves an award.
But let me say this, Accounts are a weird bunch, They’re typically introverted. And usually the first person you’d look to if there was a massacre. But… give them a Jägerbomb and something happens.
Like feeding a Gremlin after midnight, you’ll turn your back for 30 seconds and they’re winning a naked dance off, the loser of which has to pierce their own ear with a knitting needle, they’ve perversely got on them ‘just in case’.
Well done Keith, you’ve won. Here’s a WHSmith Voucher for a new stapler.
Senior Recruitment Consultant at Signify Technology
Client Consultant - Early Careers Team at Freshminds
Recruitment Consultant - Isle of Man at Boston Link
Trainee Recruitment Consultant at Monarch Recruitment
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