The Circle of Life

13 February 2020

By Nicholas Coleridge-Watts

When I was a wee bairn, the parents dragooned me into a cinema trip to see The Lion King. I wasn’t old enough to realise that it was they who wanted to see the film, and the possession of a small child merely provided a suitable excuse, but I recall enjoying 90 minutes of cartoon magic despite it being a collateral offshoot of their subterfuge. The underlying message of the opening montage for those of you who haven’t seen it (who are you people?) is that in nature there must be equilibrium – The Circle of Life. Gazelles eat grass, lions eat gazelles, when animals die they become part of the earth on which the grass grows etc.

Children are often subjected to saccharine metaphors, but in this case the lesson holds up. We all exist, to some extent, by the grace of each other, and there is no final authority exempt from the consequences of other people’s actions. In recruitment, the circle manifests itself thusly – clients come to us to find them candidates; candidates come to us to find them work; and we can only continue as a firm if we keep our clients supplied with good candidates. Simple stuff on the face of it.

In practice, as ever, obstacles occur to contest the simplicity of the theory. Firstly, we need good candidates, and we must assess each one as thoroughly as possible to make sure we have an accurate understanding of what they want,juxtaposed with what they need (a very different judgement altogether) and finally, where they’ll succeed. Secondly, without an optimum number of healthy client relationships we cannot function, and as those relationships hinge on our performance, we can never afford to compromise our standard of service.

Where the process becomes truly challenging is when someone in this Circle of Recruitment begins to operate as though their needs outweigh the needs of the others. For candidates, this might mean unrealistic goals or withholding information about their concurrent processes. For clients, it could be exaggerating a position to secure someone overqualified, or forgetting that candidates need an income and can’t spend forever on hold. As far as we recruiters are concerned, we all look bad when one of us oversells a client to a candidate or vice versa.

Sadly, this behaviour can reap long-term consequences; a candidate who misleads a consultancy may slip through the net once, but we aren’t going to be fooled a second time. Difficult clients run the risk of gaining a market reputation which makes future hiring even more of a struggle, and recruiters who aren’t straight with candidates and clients alike will eventually run out of people to lie to.

Ultimately, we’re best served by keeping a proper sense of perspective about our needs and the needs of those who sustain us, as we all go hungry when the Circle breaks.​

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