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The Game that Everybody Wins

5th May 2015


A few years back, I was on a leadership course as part of a high school group. One of the activities involved dividing into pairs and playing a little game. The aim of the game was to use just your left hand and tap your partner’s right shoulder. Whoever had the most taps after 90 seconds was the most successful team.

What followed was 90 seconds of furious ducking, dodging and slapping hands away as people did anything to stop their partner scoring (and also the first XV prop chasing one guy around the room yelling 'I'm coming for you boy!').

We gathered back in and the facilitator asked us our scores. Most had 3 or 4, what we all thought was a pretty solid effort. As the facilitator re-explained the rules of the game, we realised how wrong we were.

At no point was it mentioned that we were competing against our partner. Our group, being 17 year old boys, had inserted that element ourselves. The aim of the game was to get the most taps. The facilitator then demonstrated with one person how many could be achieved if the team worked together. They stood there and took turns tapping the other on the shoulder, ending with roughly 50 taps after 20 seconds.

As he explained to us, leadership is not sport. There are not winners and losers. If leadership is applied correctly, everybody wins.

If you've worked out where I'm going with this by now, go and print off a gold star and attach it to your chest. In this context, recruitment is exactly the same as leadership.

If done correctly, recruitment benefits everybody in the process. Candidates get a new or improved job, clients get the best talent and recruiters get to do their job.

Sadly, it seems many do not understand this principle. Recruiters are guilty of not giving clients or candidates an actual value in their work. They present candidates with mediocre jobs and clients with unsuitable candidates. This is done by those who think recruitment is there to be ‘won’. Recruiter’s whose only concern is the size of their commission payment.

This attitude also comes from the client and candidates. Many hiring managers will trumpet their ‘victory’ over recruiters by noting the reduction on recruitment costs they’ve made. They ignore the fact that in their haste to reduce costs, they may have just missed the top talent. Candidates might also state that any recruitment approach will be laughed at and discarded. In doing this, they can let the dream job go begging.

These people will dodge our calls, duck our emails and slap away our approaches. Instead of working with us to get the best results, they defend themselves from our efforts.

So how can this change? It starts with the recruiter. We are dealing with a company’s most valuable asset, people. We are also dealing with one of the most significant element of people’s lives, their career. We need to appreciate and respect this if we want to create the best results for all. We can’t just aimlessly chase jobs and candidates like the aforementioned first XV prop.

Clients and candidates also need to realise, we are there to help them. The risk of engaging with a recruiter on either end is zero. We get nothing until the candidate and client are both 100 per cent satisfied. The reward for working with us? Can you place a value on good talent or a good career