The Recruitment Rollercoaster | Ben
National Rollercoaster Day – the Recruitment Rollercoaster edition.
When I think of Rollercoasters I think of Alton Towers, and for me, the best one is and always will be - Nemesis due to all the twists and turns, ups and downs. That’s what makes it interesting, and a straight flat line isn’t that interesting (although Rita is fun the first time)…
So how does my recruitment rollercoaster compare? Well like every good rollercoaster: with lots of anticipation about something that was going to be fun, a bit scary and something I’d want to do over and over again. Or at least that was the plan, turns out recruitment is a bit like a rollercoaster in that people can tell you about it, you can watch people go on it, and you can even go on virtual ones but nothing really compares to when you’re strapped in and start doing it for real.
Seeing the G-force and feeling it is very different, seeing someone doing something and doing it are very different. Are they sure this is completely safe? That attendant surely isn’t old enough. And that one is definitely hung over!! I want to get off!! And then you have to pretend it was the easiest thing in the world and that you weren’t scared at all.
This brings me on to my recruitment rollercoaster for real. So I joined with a sister who had told me what it was like (not great), a good friend (who is now a partner at a recruitment firm) who gave himself a heart condition from the stress, and having been recruited 3 times for roles where I’d actively reached out to agencies (must be easy what are they complaining about??). I was pretty sure I knew better - so after a somewhat successful background in field sales, I moved into recruitment.
It's fair to say that it wasn’t what I expected, long hours, getting told to F-Off on the phone, less training than I wanted, and feeling like very much the only thing I was doing it for was money (which I wasn’t getting much of). So after 2 companies that were not the right fit but were both very successful, I thought I’d take one last punt.
So speaking to one recruiter I said x, y & z were important to me and did he have any roles that looked like that? He said yes but also I’d have a look at a company called SR2 (some of you may have heard of them) to me they were a bit like the Waltzers at your local fair at that time (Jan 2022) in that they were an unknown (to me), had been going for 3 years (not that long), were rapidly growing and had hired a big fat ZERO people at that point in London.
Did I trust them, am I going to get spun out of the Waltzer?? Not sure but it looks fun and that element of risk is what makes it exciting.
So my SR2Coaster started and it seemed all up, great people, great mission, great clients, loved what I recruit for - I was on Cloud-9. We keep growing as a business, we keep winning awards, I get to go and see Stephen Bartlett for demonstrating our company values. Could it get any better?? I keep making more and more placements, I am climbing up the leaderboard, making more money, the CEO is posting about my Rags to Riches success story - this is great!!
I am on top of the world at this point and I am looking at Rolexes, booking trips to Marbella all that good stuff – not quite true but a second Casio and paying off some credit cards isn’t quite as Rock ‘n’ Roll. The reality was I benefitting from a buoyant market, some awesome clients, and a solid brand and whilst I was working hard I couldn’t take credit for these.
The market isn’t what it was and a bit like closing time at Alton Towers when everyone is gone you see all the rubbish that’s been left behind. At this point Imposter Syndrome kicks in and a lot of that negative self-talk that I know a lot of people are prone to. Am I any good? Maybe it was just luck? Don’t deserve to be successful etc. Talking to people in the business has been great for this – there are some absolutely mega recruiters in this business and for them to say positive things about me, and to hear that yes we can’t just wave the white flag but that the market is challenging really helped quiet some of those negative doubts.
Additionally, through SR2 we get access to counselling and then Talk Club came in as well to help try and improve our mental fitness which really helps. It can be tough and everyone has a lot of things going on, it’s great to be able to unload them and know there’s no way they are going to get back to anyone (I slag off everyone at work basically... that was one of my many bad attempts at a joke, they’re actually alright!!)
For me and I know this is going to sound just awful to a lot of people - but I found KPIs, and splitting up tasks really useful. When you are making money in recruitment and being profitable for the business, people don’t care if it’s a bit of a black box on how you do it, and neither do you. However when it dries up a bit you can feel like a complete failure - a bit extreme but it’s tough, one month is bad, two is worse and so on. Feels like you’re on the ride Oblivion at this point. If you just have one measure you’re not hitting it’s bad and whilst everyone still wants to do those deals having the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing what you need to do in terms of the day-to-day it feels a lot better.
I also got into a bit of a spiral with this, as in that when you don’t feel like you’re adding value (making the company) it’s easy to feel a lack of purpose, and for me, this has a negative effect. Having had a few roles where I wasn’t motivated by what I was doing, I found it impossible to not let it spill over into my life outside of work. You spend more time at work than anything else and whilst you’re never going to have something that you love every second of the day if you’re not motivated and don’t enjoy you’re never going to reach your full potential in the role.
I think this is where having a support network and a life outside of work makes such a difference. I once got some advice that I misinterpreted “work-life balance is overrated” which I took to mean keep grinding at the expense of everything else - but I was wrong. The reality was I got this advice from someone who loved what they did, so for them, work & life weren’t opposite sides of a seesaw but complementary. So with this in mind, I used to have the mindset that I would have 10 minutes for lunch, come in early, leave late and check my emails 24/7 which, in hindsight, is a bonkers way to go through life and actually doing the opposite can make a real difference.
I have SR2.0 tattooed on me because I absolutely love the company I work for, the people I work with, what we’re doing, the people we get jobs for and the companies we do it for.
If that last bit is relatable and you just happen to be a world-class delivery/programme manager or an agile coach please reach out 😉
When it comes to rollercoasters it’s the ups and downs that make it fun, otherwise you’re basically on a train.
Post by Ben Dennison.