By Recruiters

This is the first installment of many to come your way from the I wanted to be a Sports Agent but ended up a Recruiter series.

I hope you enjoy it…

On occasion, I have a “light bulb moment” which will sit in the back of my mind and stay there because I’m too busy to address it or give it enough time to let it become something real.

This time, I’ve let it out because it wouldn’t go away.

What is it?

Well, at a very young age, I wanted to be a sports agent.

I wanted to represent top talent who could do things you and I, mere mortals, could only dream of doing.

That was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be Jerry “frick’n” Maguire!

Wouldn’t that be great?

If you haven’t seen this movie, you should.

For those of you who are of the Millennial generation, think of Harvey Specter from Suits but much cooler.

If you have seen the movie you’ll know that Jerry was a flashy, big-time sports agent who ate big deals for lunch.

He had hot cars, lots of money, and dated the most gorgeous women; he was living large and was as shallow as a person could be.

Jerry couldn’t be honest, intimate or commit to anything beyond himself.

Jerry only did things that benefitted himself; it was his world and you and I were just spectators watching it on the big screen with envy.

When I was a young sales rep coming up, I related to a lot of this. I was a Gen X-er with a baby boomer work ethic. I wanted what Jerry had.

I wanted to be Jerry Maguire. I wanted to make the big bucks and crush people in my wake and not care about how I did it. I wanted to win at all costs.

That’s normal right?

Then, somewhere along the way, Jerry had his own “lightbulb moment” when he realized it’s not all about him.

It’s not about crushing people at every turn.

Jerry realized it was about others. “Less is more” was the tag line he gave it, I believe.

He wanted fewer clients with solid, complete relationships – not hundreds of them to just fill quotas.

His newfound epiphany was about what he could do for others. People meant something. Jerry needed to do something that mattered. And he needed to do it with honesty and integrity.

“Help me, help you.”

For myself, it came after working many years in high-pressure sales jobs with big brand-name companies and a career that was mostly about hitting budgets, making a bonus and taking from others to fulfill my wants and needs. I was left empty, tired, resentful and unsatisfied with myself.

So what did I do about it?

I did the only thing I thought was right: I went to a recruiter!

I was a top salesperson, in my prime, well connected and ready to make a move. I was looking to bring my talents to a company that would appreciate someone like me.

Was it a mistake to meet up with that recruiter?

Yes and no.

I sit here today as an owner of a boutique search firm because of that recruiter.

But not for the reasons you may think.

My experience with that recruiter was so bad, so aggravating and so shallow, I couldn’t believe a guy like that was getting paid to decide my value, my fate and where he thought I should be placed.

I spent more than an hour spilling my guts to him, telling him I wanted more out of my job, something I could believe in, something I could do that would help me, help others. I needed to do something that wasn’t empty but rather something that actually made a difference.

That’s not a tall order, is it?

Now, more than 13 years later as a recruiter myself, I realize I was asking for a lot.

Maybe it was too much to ask, or maybe I just wanted someone, a professional, an “expert” in career placement, to tell me to be patient and we’ll work together on finding a job that fits you.

So what did he do that made me so mad, so angry and upset that I decided to open my own search firm a month later?

Two things…

1) He didn’t listen to a word I said.
Oh, he had the candidate profile sheet on his clipboard, scribbling down notes as I explained to him how much I wanted to do something that mattered. I wanted out of the mainstream sales gigs that didn’t matter.

2) He put his needs ahead of my own, looking to fill his placement quota for the month.
He “listened” to me with head nods and acknowledgment that what I was saying was true and really meant something.

Then, he said those magic words: “I think I have something for you, they’re a great company, Fortune 500 and all.”

I said, “Really?! You do? That’s great! What is it?”

He replied, confidently and with a smile, “How do you feel about photocopier sales?!”

I was speechless. I had no words to describe my disappointment as the colour drained from my face.

Now, I have nothing against photocopiers. I think they are great, I have one myself and use it daily, but when I think of giving back or having meaning in what I do, photocopies don’t come to mind.

I went home and thought long and hard about my career and what I had just experienced with that recruiter.

Then the “light bulb” went on: I could be a recruiter! I could help people like myself find what they wanted to do and help them get out of the box.

I could be Jerry “Frick’n” Maguire, recruitment agent!

I could represent top talent who could do things you and I, mere mortals, could only dream of doing.

That was what I wanted to do.

Today, my job is just that.

I help people find the jobs they want to be in; jobs they love and, on occasion, if I’m so lucky, even the jobs they dreamed of doing, not the ones I will get paid on the quickest or needed to fill a quota for.

It’s just that simple.

It doesn’t happen every day.

People are people and companies are companies. There are so many factors in this business and even Jerry Maguire can’t represent and place every candidate he meets.

If you’re a recruiter, want to be a recruiter or are thinking of becoming a recruiter, please do me a favour, do your candidates a favour and, ultimately, do yourself a favour.

  1. Listen to your candidates and clients. Listen more than you talk – it will go a long way.
  2. Don’t put your needs ahead of those of your candidates or clients. It’s not about you. It’s about them.

Last but not least, thank you to that unnamed recruiter; you know who you are. (Well, maybe you don’t because you weren’t actually listening to what I said.)

Thank you for that bad experience.

Thank you for living up to the bad reputation recruiters have.

Thank you for making me so angry that I did something about it.

Thank you for making me Jerry “Frick’n” Maguire.

Terry Craig – Career Cultivator – Verge Career Search

Thank you for reading my post. Keep an eye out as there is more to come from me very soon. Feel free to connect via Instagram

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