I was at Career Zoo a few weekends ago. If you were there seeking a job or a career change, I probably met you ( and delighted I was to do so). The queues at the FRS stand were huge, and we met so many really great people; people with life and work stories that were as varied as the proverbial snowflakes. I, personally, chatted to many, many people whom I just wanted to stay talking to for longer, to get deeper into what their hopes and aspirations were, to get to know them better.
Since then, I have been very busy but I have been mulling over the event and thinking of those people I met and wondering about what I can honestly do for them. The fact is, I don’t have jobs for every person whom I met. I am working on getting more jobs on, with those people in mind but I can only do so much. The reality is that I (or any other recruiter) won’t be of any use to anyone, if I sit around thinking about how much I love everyone and don’t DO something for them.
So here are my conclusions, as an insider in the recruitment game. There is a point to going to these careers fairs and the point is not to get your CV handed in (although that has its uses, obviously). The point is that you meet people. You talk to them. You shake their hands. For however brief a time, you make a human connection. In a world where we are becoming unconsciously more disconnected from each other every day, where we text and email rather than even just using our human voices on the telephone, where we are fed pointless stories about cardboard cut-out ‘celebrities’ rather than about our real human neighbours and their real problems, hopes and dreams, hanging out and talking with real human beings is such a huge relief! This re-making of human connections is what it’s all about.
So, am I just blathering on with some hippy nonsense? Quite possibly. I normally am. Is any of this going to help you find a job or make a career change? Again, quite possibly. We recruiters get a bad rap. Sometimes justifiably. We sometimes get painted as fly-by-night salesmen, who only have a passing interest in our candidates if we can make money out of them. This is sometimes the image. This is not what I know of most recruitment people. If a recruiter has been in the business for a long time, that recruiter has a lot more to them than pushing numbers. The people who last in this world are those that love people, that get to know people, that have an interest in people. They are, largely, decent human beings who get to know their clients, the jobs they have and the people for those jobs. They build relationships with candidates and clients. They may not get you a job but when a job comes up that they know would be suitable for you, they remember you, perhaps many years after they have met you. These are the recruiters you need to talk to.
If a recruiter promises you the earth, be wary. If a recruiter promises that he or she will work hard on your behalf but that they can’t promise you a job, believe that recruiter! If a recruiter asks to meet with you and yet doesn’t have a specific job for you at the time, please don’t think that a meeting is a waste of time. It’s not. What that recruiter is trying to do is make that human connection. They want to get to know you, suss out your preferences, find out what would suit or not suit you. They might go out (as many of us do) and trawl through the employment sludge, to find you a job. They will remember you as a person, more than a piece of paper or a CV on a screen. Stay in touch with that recruiter. Drop them a line, give them a call. Let them know what you’re up to. They may never be in a position to get you a job but you’ve got one more person on your side and you never know where that might lead. I can’t tell you the countless times I have heard my fellow recruiters mention their candidates in terms of their family lives, or things that have happened to them. We remember you because of those human qualities, not despite them.
Of course, you need to have relevant qualifications and/or experience and skills for any job but often the difference between candidates for a particular job, is the character, the personality and the life experience of the candidate. These are things that make the difference between the ‘perfect-fit’ (as we recruiters say) and the not-so-perfect-fit. Remember employers are people too and they don’t want the wrong personality fit either because that will disrupt their business and just upset everyone and those people just don’t stay.
So, after all this rambling, what’s my point? Simple. Get to know your recruiters. Keep an eye on the jobs boards and the recruitment websites. Apply for every job that sounds like it might be within your ken and don’t give up. While you are doing all that (as if that wasn’t a full-time job), get to know a few recruitment people. Find one or two with whom you feel there is that human connection. Remember, we are human animals. If your intuition tells you that you like the person and that they are trustworthy, then follow that intuition. Don’t persecute or bombard your recruiter with messages but do stay in touch, keep yourself fresh in their minds. Making that human connection is not just the decent thing to do, it improves your life and your job prospects.