A question of perspective

Major events have a habit of shaping your life. It is often remarked how the birth of a child will change someone, and it is certainly true that the death of a loved one has a profound effect on how you see life and its priorities.

Much has been committed to print over the last week about Jonathan Trott, the England batsman, and his return from the Ashes tour due to a “stress related illness”. Effectively, he has been signed off from work, and because he is a high profile figure who battled his demons on a very public stage, he has been lauded with all manner of praise for facing up to his problems. Contrast that to a social worker in Birmingham Children’s Services, who similarly cannot cope with the demands of their job, but who is castigated for taking the easy option, even though they too are signed off work with a “stress related illness”.

Ed Smith, fast becoming one of the most influential sports writers, noted this week that, much as Trott and the England management deserve credit for their swift and decisive action, sports writers should take a close look at themselves. On Sunday, they were slamming Trott for a “spineless and cowardly” display; on Tuesday. they were praising him for his bravery. Same man, same scenario, but just with a little more relevant information.

In other words, they were now seeing it in perspective.

This week, a client of mine, who was desperate for candidates to fill a role in her company stopped returning my calls and e-mails. Unable to update the interested candidates, what was I supposed to do – sulk, slag them off as an unsuitable employer? Turns out her daughter had been suddently taken to hospital and that contacting me was the last thing on her mind. Perspective; but it is likely that a stronger working relationship will develop from it.

Recruitment is one of those funny professions were you get none of the credit and all of the blame. If a candidate cancels an interview, or worse, just doesn’t show up, it is the recruitment consultant’s fault. In a situation where a candidate has cancelled an interview at the last minute (the worst I have ever experienced was half an hour before the candidate was due there), I have never had any business from that client again.

How is that candidate’s actions a fair reflection on my abilities as a recruitment consultant? The client wanted to meet the candidate, the candidate wanted to meet the client. But we are dealing with individuals in this business, and individuals have a funny habit of changing their mind at the drop of a hat. How is one bad apple a reflection of the whole barrel?

And it’s even worse if a candidate takes a job and then doesn’t start, or doesn’t prove to be as good as the client (and I) expected? The blame for that is nearly always laid at the recruitment consultant’s door, even though that client has probably spent four or five times as long with the candidate that I did.

After twenty years in recruitment, you’ve seen most things. Candidates claiming you never keep in touch with them, when they haven’t bothered to check their e-mails; candidates with whom you thought you had a strong professional relationship letting you down without reason or explanation; clients making you jump through hoops to find candidates and then being unwilling to commit to a decision.

But, in the end, it is all about perspective. And if the truth be told, everything that has happened this week fades into insignificance when compared to how the week began.

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