The Undercover Recruiter - How to Cope With Idiots in Recruitment

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How to Cope With Idiots in Recruitment (and Life in General)

In our job, you come across all sorts of people and I don’t know about you but I, over the last 20 years in recruitment, have made genuine friendships with candidates and clients over time given our shared values and interests, who enrich my life in so many ways.

However, there will always be the minority of those you engage within your job, (colleague, client, and candidate) who crap on you for no reason at all apart from the fact they are not very nice people.

Over the last two decades, I have come across my fair share of prats too so I thought I would share my coping strategies of how to not let these fools a) dominate you, b) ruin your day or c) affect your success.

My top 5 rules are as follows:

Rule 1: Rise above them

Regardless of how someone has treated you, please do not ever sink to their level. I am sure your parents gave you the same advice when it came to bullies in the school playground; two wrongs do not make a right. You have to rise above their behavior and conduct yourself with professionalism and politeness even if your inner chimp is desperate to yell “oh do just F off”. (see point 2 about Chimp*)

I believe if you can ‘kill someone with kindness’, they will feel some sense of shame and hopefully will revoke their poor behavior. It won’t make them Mother Teresa, but it may make them redeem themselves by acting a little kinder. It may not. But I bet they won’t be as awkward with you…..

Rule 2: Manage your inner chimp

The Chimp Paradox – Dr. Steve Peters is without a doubt a life-changing book I would recommend everyone to read- recruiter or not! By enforcing the ethos of being able to control your inner chimp (mine is called Marje) it allows you to take stock, to reflect and think about the consequence of how you wish to respond.

Think about the last time you had to deal with an idiot in work. Your capillaries exploded, your scalp went red hot, your heart was pounding. You felt true rage at the injustice, How did you react? Did you fire a heated response back, YELLING IN CAPITALS at them… and did you then regret how you positioned it? By managing your own inner chimp, it will mean you will rarely regret how YOU respond to their poor actions.

Rule 3: Karma is King

Have you ever had the situation where said idiot/prat has suffered their comeuppance like some divine intervention? True karma can be a bitch. So whatever happens, I believe you ‘pay forward’ kindness and those who do the opposite will eventually suffer for their disgraceful behavior. The rude client who won’t pay your fees and then finds themselves redundant and begging you for a job; the candidate who didn’t turn up for interview who then gets bounces from their probation every 6 months; NB I am not wishing ill on people, but I am a HUGE believer that the universe will come good for those who do good.

Rule 4. The benefit of the doubt

Has the same said prat ever then reproached you? What do you do? I have had it happen many times. So, I have a simple rule- I will give you the benefit of the doubt- but once only. Call it wisdom, call it experience, but if you cross the line more than once, there is NO going back. There are rare exceptions where you may have got someone all wrong; however, that is less likely than someone who just gets through life winging it and not ever putting other people first

Rule 5. It is in YOUR mindset

Perception of others is something I think you become more aware of as you get older: the actions of another human’s actions affect how YOU feel and I have learned that only YOU can change how these make you feel. So to simplify this: if a candidate ghosts you, it is a reflection of their rude manners, ignorance, total cowardice – it is NOT a reflection on YOU, how you have behaved. And that is how you should feel about it. It is THEIR problem, not yours.

Lastly, there was a great book I read in my 30s called SUMO which stands for Shut Up Move On; again, a simple solution and one you could use time and time again. Don’t dwell on disaster or negativity. Focus on outcomes from positive, like minded people and think about how YOU can improve your own behaviors too as no-one is ever perfect and we can all learn and improve how we make other people feel. My family motto is “Be Kind” and it applies to everything… so go on, recruiters and beyond, BE KIND.

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