Little Black Book – Who gets the call?
The mind is very powerful. Fortunately I have a retentive photographic memory. In the late 80’s starting my career in Estate Agency, I probably annoyed as many people as I do today, for different reasons. Back then, which seems a while ago, I recall selling on average one property per day every day of every month. My colleagues couldn’t understand the secret to my success and this quickly frustrated them. One of the big frustrations was a rather nice ‘pool car’ which was made available every Monday morning to be delivered to the negotiator or manager who sold the most homes for the previous week. I kept the car for a quite a while before falling short on sales to another office occasionally. At 18, it was very exciting to be driving a fancy car. How they managed the insurance I shall never know. I recall a choice of XR3i with all the skirts and spoilers, or a 2.8i Capri, all the fashion and a nightmare to control. I felt like one of the professionals, CI5 that is. My 14 hour days were paying off, both in terms of salary and benefits. My secret was a retentive memory, plus the gift of the gab of course. The rest is history, but my point now turns to recruitment or should I say, headhunting. Firstly, I don’t have a black book. I have a database of around 16,000 housebuilding contacts, acquired over 14 years and increasing daily. When a housebuilding client calls me to ask me to perform a search assignment, my first point of reference is my head. I consider all of the people that I’ve met over the last 14 years up and down the country. Not just met, but interviewed for between 2 and 3 hours. A memory tag of each will trigger department discipline, skills and more importantly, who will fit in. Cultural fit, persona fit and work ethic are centric to ensuring that when presented to a client, they will fit in. I’m not looking for clones, I want a combination of team dynamics. Put simply, the get-on factor. I am unemployable. Too many years of working in a style that suits my lifestyle. It’s easy for me to take an objective viewpoint of others. I challenge people at interview, I ask awkward and delving questions if required. I ask detailed questions about their knowledge of the business. Some are unnerved by the process, others relish the meeting. One quote recently which I had to smile about is; how do you know so much about technical details? Did you work in technical? “No”, I said, I asked lots of questions of technical people and learnt a lot along the way. I’ve been asking many more questions following my decade in housebuilding boardrooms in the last 14 years of headhunting. Forget psychometrics, I can work you out in no time at all. Who gets the call when I’m given a search assignment for a particular job role? Very few actually. I don’t believe that there are more than a handful of people to fit any role in a location with more or less what a client requires. Finding the ideal person can take minutes to weeks. I’ve heard of recruiters spending hours on the phone to candidates on their screen. Often spending no more than a few mins on each call. I call this; CV spot-trading. The recruiter probably doesn’t know who you are or have any interest in where your career should unfold. All they’re interested in is making money from you, bombarding inboxes of companies all over the place in the hope of striking lucky. The people in my black book are the often key people I’ve met and built lasting relationships with. They are key referrers of other good people. It’s not rocket science. Only a fraction of my contacts appear on Linkedin. Many hard to reach and shall I say, non-Linkedin people take years of building trust. Some candidates will only move jobs via me. That’s always a compliment, because I’m a trusted partner in their career aspirations. A little like a client who gives me advance notice of the need for someone to join, the reverse is true. I’m called to find a new opening discreetly and timely for many candidates. If you’d like to be considered as the next black book entry, call me; 07554 234567.
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