As anyone who has spent more than five minutes as a recruiter will know, there are many aspects to the industry, and many different types of personality which work well in the space.  I’ve been in several positions myself, from perm and  professional contractor recruiter to agency owner, technology director, and very rarely, temp recruiter. Personally I’ve always felt more comfortable in perm recruitment, as a temp recruiter really has to be a mother hen and part-time social worker to all their charges.  Whilst it would be natural for me to remain professional and emotionally detached, a temp recruiter has to have a deeper comprehension of their temps, who can rely on them on an ongoing basis.  Initially I learned that even if I happened to like a particular candidate (to the point where I would go the extra mile for them), I would soon forget them the instant their 12 week rebate period came around.  Just like a working girl, I needed to clear the decks and move on to my next trick.

But hold on. If I only ever worked like that, then how could I progress from the ranks of the trainee recruiters experienced by Andy Headworth this week? If I could only cultivate some “regulars”, I could bypass the awkward getting-to-know-you part, and deliver a consistent and improving service.  I’d get to know precisely what they wanted, and even be able to offer additional consultancy, which wasn’t strictly being billed for.  In recruitment, both employers and candidates are clients of a kind.

Now I’m not for a moment equating the work of a professional recruiter with that of a prostitute (high class or otherwise), but the fact remains that we can both suffer from low public esteem, and there are many other similarities too.  The perception of need amongst our clients is tempered by a disappointment that they cannot do it themselves, and want professional help.  And whilst retail and social media are the current darlings of the Internet, it was recruitment and pornography that led the charge in the early years, and proved that commerce was viable in the new medium.  Recruitment is all about bringing together one candidate, one employer and one job.  Prostitution is the “oldest profession”.  There are bound to be similarities.

PS. If Peter Gold is reading this; I’m not being deliberately provocative in order to generate blog traffic.

Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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