Escaping The Headhunters

When you said that you will take no prisoners in finding the right candidate, I had something different in mind…

Now, from reading the headline, you may be wondering when I’ve had the misfortune to encounter cannibals. The truth is, I never had such an experience. The closest I’ve come to that has been negotiating my way through Bangkok’s bar district whilst adeptly avoiding the Thai ladies looking for a ‘trophy’ husband.

What I am actually referring to are recruitment consultants. Seriously. In case you didn’t know, allow me to give you a heads up, as they say. There are no longer recruitment consultants. Or at least, if there are, then they are so 1990s. What this vocation actually involves now, is for a person who represents a company with job vacancies to aggressively seek out the relevant candidates. Whether they’re interested or not.

Except that’s not exactly what happens. Take an example conversation I had with a ‘headhunter’ recently. Hello. “Can I speak to Bob?” No, he left the company having failed miserably to pass his probation period. “Oh… then can I speak to Stewart?” That’s me. “Great, I’m a headhunter.” One that ‘hunts’ for candidates with limited experience, who under-perform so badly that they make Homer Simpson look like a high achiever? I’m all ears… [click…brrrrr]

And therein lies the problem. The work culture in many countries has slowly evolved to ensure that you never really know just what someone does from his/her job title. Whilst ‘headhunter’ clearly feeds the egos of both prospective candidates and the recruitment consultants, other job titles just seem to be examples of oneupmanship.

My first job in advertising was as a sales executive. Ooh! That is so much better than ‘sales representative’, I thought, as it was not so long ago that ‘executive’ was a senior position. Then everyone became managers. Of accounts, business development (whatever that is) or communications (well they do talk and email). But, these days, there is no stopping some people. I now deal with account directors, vice presidents and… even presidents [gasp]. I’m never sure if I’m meeting a business contact or a leader of a small republic.

Where will it all stop? Nowadays the actual senior staff in a business are feeling the pressure. They’ve allowed their underlings to create their own job titles to their hearts’ content, so that their jobs now sound insignificant! I mean, who would want to talk to a managing director, when he’s just had an email from someone in sales who calls himself supreme leader, no less? Bosses are now seriously considering trumping the lot by insisting on emails addressed ‘Your eminence’.

It does get worse if you peruse the profiles of Linked-In.com or on company websites where, for some unknown reason, some people feel compelled to make up wacky job titles, inadvertently showing the world what utter knobheads they are. I give you ‘Online Guru’, ‘Ideas Man’, ‘Industry Leader’, ‘Innovator’, ‘Head of Insight’ (are you Yoda oh wise one?).

Next they’ll be calling supermarket checkout operators ‘Product & Currency Management Experts’… Please feel free to leave any example you’ve come across in the comments below. Or why not rename your own job title by using the bullshit job title generator? I’m now an internal optimization director. New business cards on order…

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9 thoughts on “Escaping The Headhunters

  1. It says a lot about today’s work culture that the recruitment industry has become the aggressive, way under regulated industry that it is. It’s all about money and commission and the candidate doesn’t really matter that much. Pisses me off .. My official job title is ‘Legal Cashier’ .. does that mean anything to you?

    • I also hate the way recruitment consultants talk to candidates like they are 10 years old. Like: “I’ve sent in your CV and they want to interview you. So WELL DONE for that!!” Yes, congratulate me for applying for jobs that are relevant to my experience.

      Do you man a till reserved only for lawyers?

  2. Lol, I’m sure the solicitors keep a till for themselves somewhere.

  3. Great article – thoroughly enjouyed it. I have no whacky title, other than “she-who-never-gets-enough-sleep”.

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