Monday, November 3, 2008

None For Recruitment

A friend of mine is looking for a job and is currently mingling with one of the world’s worst working races: The Recruitment Consultant. It’s a funny thing about The Recruitment Consultant (who, for brevity, I will now call in a flash of French flair Le Récro, or perhaps, l'idiot): they are as disliked as estate agents and lawyers and yet, nobody is vocal about this dislike. Why is it that there are jokes about estate agents and lawyers and none about recruitment consultants? What is it that shelters them from the irate brunt of all of those people they screw around for weeks via a multitude of means only to leave them hurt and dejected by the sidelines? Why aren’t we all up in arms about their general lack of professionalism?

Two things irritate me above all else every time I think of Le Récro: the first one is Love Bombing and the second is CVs.

When you’re new and turn up at your first meeting in a set of newly polished shoes and perfect briefcase, Le Récro won’t even let you sit down without gushing about details. It could be what you’re wearing or what you said over the phone prior to the meeting or what you sent via email with your old CV. Whatever it is, the Love Bombing begins immediately because, even though they do not love any candidate, not really, you are the equivalent of a walking stack of cash to any of them.

And so it begins, call upon call, job profile upon job profile, email upon email, you delude yourself that this person has your best interests at heart and that, in no time at all, you will be in a new job thanks to your supah dupah fantastic Récro. The reality is that you will be dropped like a sack of bricks as necessity commands and you will never hear from that adoring fan of yours ever again. This is exponentially more likely to take place if your CV was found by Le Récro while crawling the net, as opposed to you yourself approaching the agency directly. You'd be surprised (only if you never dealt with them of course), but it does work like this. You may be registered with twenty of these leeches at any given time and you will suddenly wonder one day, two months down your new working line, hey, what happened to him? Wasn't he supposed to call back on ten weeks ago?

The CV Problem is one that affects millions of individuals the world over. There is no standard in CV writing, put that in your head and live happily ever after. Ever leafed through the hundreds of CV writing books that litter your nearest bookshop? If you have, you will have noted that there are numerous permutations of what an acceptable CV looks like, all valid, all fine specimens of how to get a job. What these books, and Le Récro with them, do not tell you, is that they objectify the market through a subjective view of it. This means that each one of these people who recommend CV writing in a certain way, base their recommendation on a set of rules that are non-existent. Other than ‘check your grammar, check your spelling, don’t print on pink paper, don’t scent it’, we should all be aware that Le Récro is going to suggest what he thinks is right which is not at all the market standard. This is because there is no market standard, no CV that will make every single employer, or even the majority of employers out there, fist-pump the air in delight when they read it. There really isn't. It's a written document and like all written documents it is predominantly judged on an entirely subjective basis.

Today I heard from a friend whose Récro suggested to remove the ‘28 years of experience’ line from her CV, on the (ridiculously flimsy) basis that her age, or a hint of an age, should not be revealed in it. Except the diploma acquired in 1978 alone would be enough of a hint to anyone who isn’t an illiterate, mathematically challenged moron, that the candidate at hand isn’t twenty. My career counsellor, who used to be a recruitment consultant many years ago, agrees that the vast majority of them are just bums on seats and do not even have an inkling of what life-changing head hunting is all about. Usually, leafing through Reed’s pages is enough to single out job positions advertised by recruitment consultants, not because they start with the ubiquitous ‘My client...’ but because the adverts are riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical inaccuracies, with apostrophes scattered over the page like random soft sheep upon a grassy knoll and with the lack of them hanging over the writing like a bad smell. Don't believe me? So there, copied and pasted two minutes ago:

"A hugely challenging oportunity has arisen to work for one of the countrys leading financial services' providers. We are looking to recruit a focused and highly driven Operations Manager to manage an established contac centre during an exciting period of growths. Managing the contac centre operations your role will to be manage all levels of staff to ensure an effective delivery of the strtegeic objective. You will be ensurring the delivery of business' KPIs and be responsible for managing and developing the internal and external customer relationships. You will be commercially astute with a keen eye for figures and have full budget responsibility for your area."

I am told that there are good Récros out there but they are a bit like mythical figures, a bit like Santa, whom we see here there and everywhere all year round, even though we know perfectly well that those we meet are all impostors and that the real Santa is somewhere at the North Pole. I heard good things of the book How To Handle Your Recruitment Consultant even though I have no direct experience of it and no wish whatsoever to read it. All I would suggest is to handle them with a carrot and a sackful of sticks if you must, otherwise, not at all.
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