How to Teach an Old Boss, New Recruitment Tricks

In some recruitment businesses there’s a starting Founder who still puts numbers on the board.

When you have two staff, it’s imperative to keep a flow of billings coming in.

Any business in its infancy will rely on the dedication and fervour of the person who started it. When the business grows, it’s less likely the owner will hit the phones.

I’d guess the majority of recruitment bosses no longer personally recruit themselves.

If they’re the owner of the business, it’s highly likely the last time they did, it was for themselves.

For many, the phrase “hit the phones in anger” is the only training they received. This was back in the day, after all.

The more calls you make, the more people you’ll speak to and the more successful you’ll be.

While true to some extent, the more out of date your boss is, the more your success could be hampered.

The more you might have to do things that don’t add value to your career.

But how do you change that?

How do you prove to your boss their methods are out of date? How do you prove you know best when you’re not given the chance to change methods?

1) Voice your opinion

With any manager, it’s crucial to feed back on how exactly you like to be managed.

Every one in a team’s different and responds to varied methods in their own way. In recruitment, more than a lot of jobs, you’re running a business within a business, and therefore should be the master of your own destiny.

In terms of out of date practices, if you’re truly invested in a way of working that’s different to your boss’s, ask them to prove with data and real life examples why you should be doing anything differently.

Just because something worked in the past doesn’t mean it will now. And your methods should be linked inexorably to your market.

Construction Recruiter in New Zealand probably won’t have the same practice as a Contract IT Recruiter in London.

2) What’s their motivation?

Most of the time, money in the bank will be the top motivation for your boss.

Yes, they may well describe your career advancement as a driver in their management of you, but it’s likely this is because the better you do, the better they’ll do.

This isn’t true of all bosses of course.

Some are truly amazing mentors. Some have your best interests at heart above any profit.

But whatever their approach, if you have a true understanding of the driving forces behind their behaviour, you’ll be much better equipped for dealing with any issues, head on.

If their motivation’s solely revenue, you have an end goal.

You need to show how your own approach will bring in more money than theirs. Ask them for a trial period. Ask them to do your job, in your way.

If you’re really  unhappy you won’t stick around for long.

They know this. Have an adult conversation about the difference in approaches.

3) Document things as much as possible

Document results from your own business strategy.

If you’ve got a manager who won’t back down on bashing the phones as the ‘best way’ to recruit, prove to them it’s not the most effective method. If it’s not the most effective method…

The way you do that is with numbers and facts.

Money on the board is your best metric. But note that this may well be a long game, and prove hard to rely on over a short-term basis.

Work their way. Document everything you do. And the result.

Then work your way, and do the same.

Then look closely at the difference. You can never have too much information. If their methods bring in the most money the wheels are going to fall off your standpoint before you’ve even started.

Old Broken Down Car

4) Put yourself in their shoes

Imagine having to manage yourself.

Try to think about how you’d manage your team if you were the boss. You’ll understand any problematic areas by putting yourself in their shoes.

You’ll probably already have an idea of this, but a little time and clear thought may help you to address any issues.

Taking emotion out of a situation is a really beneficial method of working through problems. Write a situation down as facts and think analytically about it.

5) Are you singled out?

Is there a difference in approach with you and your colleagues?

Is it something you’re doing which affects how rigid they are? 

Flexibility will get you a long way in business relationships.

Equally if you’re told to stick to out of date recruitment principles, but a colleague can work in any way they want, ask why.

If there’s someone in the business who doesn’t seem to get the same treatment from your manager, try to engage that person and emulate their relationship.

If they’re working a different market or location, that might be easier said than done.

On the flip side, if there’s a general consensus that your manager doesn’t know how to recruit any more, it may be harder for you to work with them.

6) Get ahead of the game

Once you understand the motivation of your management, being able to second guess their actions will really put you in the driving seat of the relationship.

You’ll be able to word conversations, problems and even emails in a way that will directly impact how they respond.

Whether that means opting for a classic sh*t sandwich, starting and finishing with positives, and bad news in the middle. Or simply highlighting the things you know they want to hear.

If you don’t rub your boss up the wrong way, your job and life on the whole, becomes easier.

7) Take the high road

There’s little to be gained in life by being petty and trying to get one over on someone. This is especially true if your boss is your opposition. Taking an attitude or action that’s morally reprehensible won’t do you, or the situation, any favours.

Take a stance that’s both adult and constructive for the sake of your happiness and career. 


Recruitment’s evolved. The best Recruiters evolve with the industry. If you’re recruiting in 2019, with 1980’s principles, it’s time you upgraded.

And upgrading your boss’s ethos is a lot easier than upgrading your boss. The next thing you’re wondering is… where do I find new ideas and principles to explore? How do I keep up to date with new practices?

I’ve got you covered there too.

Click here to read our productivity series and you’ll have everything you need.