Recruitment

If I dyed my hair bright green and wore a t-shirt that said ‘I’m sexually attracted to bees’, you can bet that any recruitment consultant will still forget me the second I walk out of their office. They’re an odd breed, recruitment consultants. They are, of course, sales people who are paid commission to flog a commodity except in their case, the commidity is people. It’s like human trafficking without the sweaty lorry rides and fake passports.

The problem with this of course, is that humans are different. Vastly different. A recruitment consultant’s commodity never remains the same, therefore what choice does Kayley/Bernie/Odette/Melissa/Kanga have but to treat us as the same person with a variety of slightly different heads? The best course of action for any recruitment consultant worth her acrylic nails is to cross her fingers and hope to God she gets your name right.

“Hi daaaaarling! It’s Juicy from PA Pimps, I’ve got an AMAZING role I need to run by you.” It may well be an amazing role, Juicy, but it’s probably not the role for me, is it? For example, I specified a small agency based in the West End of London, relaxed environment and definitely nowhere corporate. The call I got this morning was telling me about a lovely role 3 miles north of the West End in the corporate office of  major retailer. Why do we sit in interviews with these people, glassy smiles on our faces and bile in our gullet, pouring our hearts out about our ‘ideal working environment’ if they choose to hear what they like (or what they can through their overstyled hairdo’s).

Well, it’s because unfortunately, the London job market is as cut throat as a pirate who’s just lost a game of ‘Who’s Best At Throat Cutting?’ and is in a bit of a stabby mood. If you’re not represented by Tinky/Carynata/Lupey then generally you’re no one. Especially if you’re a PA. PAs and EAs (Executive Assistant – conjures up an image of handjobs under the desk for me, not sure why) are ten a penny. Not good ones, I hasten to add, a genuinely good PA is hard to find in a sea of bored pretenders. Ask any ‘career’ PA what her background is and you’ll normally get the same answer: Didn’t go to uni (or did but did a pointless degree like History of Basket Weaving), fell into a reception/admin/team assistant role and rose through the ranks to the heady heights of PA to middle management, then senior management and then if you’re exceptionally good at diary management and hiding your real personality in the workplace, a board level director. No one grows up wanting to be a PA. When I was asked at primary school what I wanted to be, I knew I wanted to be a journalist, but couldn’t spell it so I wrote ‘pop star’, like every other girl in my glass. When I finally did tell a teacher I wanted to be a journalist, she looked as though I’d presented her with one of my turds and then said ‘Oh you don’t want to do that! Ghastly profession.’ I believed her and I am not a journalist (totally her fault, of course). I coasted through school and hated the few months I spent at college so what was left for me? A life on the shop floor of Dolcis, later on Office or even (gasp) Russell & Bromley, or typing and answering the phone in an office where people go to the pub at lunch time and you don’t have to touch anyone’s feet? Obvious choice.

So if that’s the path onto which you’ve stumbled, you need a recruitment consultant, or preferably several, in your life. They are a necessary evil because generally, good companies don’t advertise their jobs on Gumtree or in the local paper. In fact unless you’ve registered with a few agencies, you’d think the whole of London was on a recruitment freeze except for bars and restaurants. The problems with consultants arise when their commodity turns against them. If you dare to hint that perhaps the role paying £10k a year less than your old Saturday job, based fifteen miles away on the bus, working for a vivisectionist doesn’t quite match your original criteria, you’re immediately blacklisted as a trouble-maker and your CV is stuffed in the filing cabinet under ‘Difficult’.  So along you trudge to pointless interview after pointless interview simply to appease Meringue/Starrrr/Polyp so they’ll keep you at the top of the pile for when/if the right job does finally come in.

Job hunting is a souless, competitive, joyless task but what’s the alternative? A life spent on the sofa, drinking yourself to death watching Jeremy Kyle and scratching yourself, wondering at what point you forgot how to spell ‘Strongbow’, or fake smiles and air-kissing with Jocasta, Yappy and Blossom until they finally come through with a rent-paying job? No contest. If you’re seriously thinking about that question by the way, I’d switch from Strongbow to White Lightning; it’s cheaper.

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14 thoughts on “Recruitment

  1. Hey Girl! Remember to stay strong!
    I have been unemployed and it feels alright for awhile and your receiving unemployment money but well you get bored *or at least I did*

    I totally understand the feeling about the recruitment agents. I feel like I am just another number and they hardly ever get to know the ‘real you’

    A journalist. Well seems like your quite a blogger. So you never know.

  2. I have 15 years of recruitment experience

    I have never heard of a good PA needing to use a recruitment consultant at all. They tend to build their own networks or are simply headhunted because they stood out doing their job outstandingly.

    Piss poor PAs are simply admin staff with attitude, regularly unemployed, negative, ten a penny and yes, “difficult”.

    No one owes you a job. If you are half as good as you think you are, go freelance. Be your own boss. See how long you last.

    • Thank you for your comments, Old Holborn. I fully respect your years of experience but as it happens I’ve had fifteen years of experience USING recruitment consultants both to help me find a job and as a client recruiting staff. I am not a ‘piss poor’ PA actually, and neither are the other people I know who are PAs that use agencies when they change jobs. I have never known of a PA getting ‘head-hunted’. Also, I don’t believe I stated anywhere in my blog post that I think the world ‘owes me’ a job. I am honest about the decisions I’ve made in my life and I admit most of them could have been better, however I work hard and try my best (although this has never enabled me to ‘build my own network’). I apologise if you are offended by my post, but I find your response unnecessarily rude, as would many of my fellow PAs and the people who have agreed with this post. Which, incidentally is tongue-in-cheek and meant to be humourous.

      • Oh, I have plenty of humour, see my award winning blog for further details.

        Just out of interest, how much did you pay the recruitment consultant to find you a job? Oh….thought so. Looks to me like you got good value for money.

        Recruitment consultants do not exist to find people jobs. Job centres do. Recruitment consultants exist to find their clients the best possible candidate for a role that will benefit both the client and the candidate.

        If you want me to appraise your CV, strip out the personal details and send to oldhoborn@gmail.com. If I like it, I have a vast network of contacts that might actually be able to help you.

  3. my favourite recruitment experience was when i explained that i had certain principles which meant i wouldn’t work for, say, a company involved in the arms trade… so i was immediately advised to ‘put those to one.side’ and go for a job at fighter-plane facilitators ‘rolls-royce’.

    i walked out and, fortunately, found a consultant who wasn’t a massive fucktard.

  4. Another brilliant blog post Doll. It’s amazing how teachers can affect your life long after you’ve left school. Careers advice was crap at mine. And yours too by the sounds of it.
    Keep it up. I’m sure you’ll be a published writer before long.

  5. Marvellous again Dolly. Wish you success. Job-hunting is a bitch at all levels, but those head-hunter agencies are legendary epic tossers. Best, Matt x PS (Subliminally) Write a book

  6. I don’t believe myself when I tell this story – it sounds so ludicrous – but I genuinely, genuinely got a call from a recruitment agency that I signed up with when I was 18 asking me if I’d like to spend my summer holiday cutting holes in colostomy bags.

    I was told I’d be sat at a desk, nine to five (“simple office hours, mate – no worries”) with a small pair of scissors and a stack of bags, snipping holes in them.

    I thought the guy was winding me up, but then the agent (Richard) tried to sweeten the deal by telling me “Don’t worry, they’re not used bags or anything. This is before they go to the hospital…”

    That was the last call I took from him.

  7. Hi Dolly,

    As a PA of 18 years media experience I can’t tell you how hilarious I found this entry – the names of some of the agencies are bad enough…
    Beavers, Workingirls, what next, Sluts Who Type?

    The bottom line is that someone who makes money out of placing you with their client doesn’t have your best interests at heart, you aren’t their motivation, the commission and the client is. That is why both of us have been placed in situations where the vague ‘previous PA didn’t work out she was xx’ or ‘previous PA left to have a baby’ turns out to be a total lie, and we have been no 7 in the same amount of months. Then after you either cry/leave/get fired for a cock eyed nay illegal reason you then see the job advertised by the same agency almost monthly for about 6 months. The agency doesn’t get a fee if the PA doesn’t suit the client within 3 months – so the agency has to lie to the next girl to even get her through the door for an interview. It’s a numbers game, a crapshoot. I only deal with a few agencies now who I trust and who know what I want. I’m worth it to them so they don’t try and muck me around and I treat them the same. Good luck with the next roll of the dice you really deserve it xx

  8. Wow, Old Holborn’s done nothing at all to change my opinion of their industry! My other half did badly at A-Levels and uni, so I know how likely employers are to use degrees as a lazy shorthand for “I’m not FICK” despite someone’s experience.

    My boyfriend managed to get a career he really wanted through a friend in the TV transmission industry, which is not high paying, but, depending on the company, does look at what the person actually knows, rather than depending on their list of qualifications. Scheduling is the normal entry point, and it’s something you could do well given your organisational skills. Grapevine is the site to look at for jobs, but if you want some personal advice and a possible contact, let me know.

  9. Hello. Very funny…..’sweaty lorry rides…..’ Is it just me or is that cock who left the stupid and unnecessary comment a cock? Yeh cock boy I’m talking to you….

  10. Fantastic piece – I can identify with a lot of this. Jobhunting these days is hugely competitive, and each day is/was a chance to have another tiny bit of dignity chipped away. The recruitment agents I worked with were a varied bunch – their level of professionalism seemed inversely proportional to the quality of the employer. One national and multi skilled agency (with very good rep) sent me for interview with a boss who spent 40 minutes telling me how awful it was to work there. Another more local and specialist agent seemed to have trouble making a call when they promised, couldn’t work their spell check function, or even acknowledging a document very carefully prepared on why I was perfect for a position, that he had specifically asked for. And you’re so right that you feel powerless to complain, otherwise your CV is filed in a “do not touch” section of their database. I have accepted a position, gained through a recruitment agency who were just ok, but will be interested if I am asked for feedback on their performance by HR – I just don’t feel they were the best representation for this multinational company with an excellent reputation, or even decent value for their recruitment pounds.

    Phew – feel better for that outpouring…but just don’t me started on the Jobcentre….

  11. I’ve recently discovered your blog through Twitter and I think your posts are fantastic. I have genuinely lolled. I’ve also been moved to write about Recruitment Consultants (http://themirrorfactory.blogspot.com/2010/02/bliss-tryst.html) and feel the urge rising again as I’m still unemployed. They never seem to respond to emails; in fact they seem completely oblivious to the harrassment from job seekers as they are all too comfortable in their own secure jobs to find work for other people. And too busy gelling their hair and having liquid lunches and about two hours worth of fag breaks per day.

    Bitter? Moi?

  12. I think I love you. My own job hunt of late has been plagued by recruitment consultant madness on a grand scale, which is great because I was in danger, following several years in permanent employment with rights and protection, of forgetting what a void-minded, false empathising, plastic robots they were. Not just an unnecessary tier in the relationship between job seeker and employer, stealing several pounds an hour from the money you’ve earned for doing dick sizzle, but useless with it. There’s also no escape. Two weeks ago I sat in the job centre, ranting to the girl that my gazillion agencies were worse than useless – fucking useless actually and no advice of any note to offer me as their only real experience of working life was this non-job they did which didn’t resemble any real job that real workers have to embrace in the actual market. Why, I asked Natalie (for that was her name), were these frigoid shuntsacks, bred from the same waste tissue as estate agents, employed at all? Surely that laid waste to the notion that a skillset was a pre-requisite for gainful employment? You just needed the ability to emote a lot, gesticulate wildly, pretend to be interested in people and talk in a hysterical intonation – the register of a primary school teacher talking to a 4 year old. “I used to be a recruitment consultant!” she said, looking pissed off. So there it was – no escape and no job.

    Anyway , thank God for you. Keep up the good work.

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