The Art of Good Business, According to Eddie Temple – adaptation and original article by Tenille Alexander.
I was at home battling a virus and associated cold sweats when I decided to indulge my love of Guy Ritchie films. Forgoing any deep consideration, I chose ‘Layer Cake’, unaware at the time that this film would provoke so much food for thought.
Despite the underlying theme of the film which revolves around the trafficking and distribution of narcotics, Eddie Temple (played by the great Michael Gambon) turns out to be quite the successful businessman, at one point delivering a particular pearl of wisdom which resonated with my inner-recruiter:
“The art of good business is being a good middleman.”
As I sat there drenched in pharmaceuticals and Chinese tea, I realised that Temple really had a point.
With emphasis on ‘good’, a recruiter’s role is not only to source talent; they’re there to remove all the politics that often comes with the hiring process.
If you engage the right recruiter for your business, the results can be incredible. The most significant aspect of using a recruiter is the fact that someone impartial can assess your business externally and add value based on what the business actually needs, as opposed to what you think it needs.
A good example lies in the theory of reading something backwards when editing – your brain tends to be better equipped to recognise inaccuracies when it’s looking at ‘the unfamiliar’.
Similarly when hiring personnel, sometimes you’re so used to the daily-grind you don’t realise you could actually make significant business improvements until you’ve looked at it from the outside – which is where the function of a recruiter can help.
Because we are effectively paid to be middlemen day-in and day-out, we are accustomed to objectively recognise things quite quickly, such as market trends, company cultures, salaries… People who lie on their resume… Potential HR nightmares… Et cetera.
I caught up with a friend whom I previously worked with in a recruitment agency. “Lilly” (we’ll call her Lilly for the purposes of this article) has a colleague “Max” who would appear to suffer from some endearing cultural misunderstandings, coupled with approximately zero social or professional filters. We were talking about some graduate roles that Max was handling; with Lilly assisting and guiding the process, she found herself using the phrase, ‘that’s illegal’ more times than she could count.
It’s a common story though; I don’t think there’s a single person on this earth who hasn’t experienced a similar encounter at least once in their lives, whether purely observational or having to deal quite directly with a mild case of potential malpractice. How many times have we heard of someone’s line manager insisting on hiring an attractive young graduate who lacks the required experience and is fundamentally not suited to the role, over the older bloke with five years’ experience in a similar position? Everyone on the payroll knew it but couldn’t say it – the grad looked better in a skirt.
*inhales sharply* There, I said it.
See, as a recruiter, we can step in and impartially select the older, slightly overweight bloke with the perfectly matched personality, credentials and experience and no one even blinks an eye. It’s just us doing our job. Don’t want to have that awkward conversation about salary with your new or existing staff member? That’s OK too, we’re used to it – it comes to us as naturally as you would order your morning coffee.
Recruitment has a place and a function beyond what most people realise, bearing in mind – recruiters are only as successful as their clients allow them to be. Next time someone calls you about the potential of working together, don’t be so quick to get them off the phone. Meet one, meet a few (the recruiter always pays for the coffee anyway!). See who you click with; see who actually listens to you.
Some questions you may ask yourself when meeting with a recruiter include, “Are they overselling themselves?” and, “do you feel as if they are honest?”.
Be honest with them, too – recruitment is an industry rife with clients who will watch in all good faith as we line all our ducks up in a neat little row and then systematically mow each of them down with one swift, financially unfulfilling sentence, often along the lines of, “We’ve decided to fill the role ourselves”. No biggie for the client; they likely haven’t paid anything up until this point. The recruiter on the other hand has spent a week advertising, screening CVs, fielding enquiries, interviewing… Getting any number of candidates excited about a new career venture, only to have to go and tell them that the Easter Bunny isn’t real.
Perhaps now you’ll look at the recruitment industry a little differently? If my journalism major hasn’t completely frittered away due to years of underuse, you’ll be more inclined to see that really… We’re just trying to do good business.