Goodbye, Recruitment (or Recruitment Horror Vacui)

Recruitment consultants are alright. After 12 and a half years working behind the scenes of the industry, that is my take home.

This was my first surprise. I took a short contract with Evolution Recruitment to pay the bills. My view of recruitment was: “Eurgh, you sell people!” Which my new colleagues did, sort of. What they mostly did, however, was pick themselves up off the ground. (Consultants hear the word “no” a lot.) Dealing with rejection had made them resilient and thus brutal verbal jousters. At first, this was what I liked, the banter. Which as a polite, mild-mannered techie Mathematical Physicist was my second surprise.

Much as I love “bantz”, it does not make for great intellectual sustenance. Recruitment however, did. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, industry abhors a vacancy. In nature when a vacuum is created, something rushes in creating a world of ceaseless motion. This is recruitment. It is complicated. My third surprise.

And I had to data model it.

Oh yes.

What a challenge to take on. As I built the data model I realised that I was modelling nothing more than humanity itself. People got lost on the way to an interview, we modelled it. People took a job, we modelled it. People lied to us, we modelled it. We modelled backfills like they were electrons and holes. We used predictive analytics for Key Performance Indicators. We wanted to measure repeat business and ended up using number theory. The list goes on. Oh, and we did all this via a relational database i.e. the very cockpit of chaos theory. (“I only changed a 0 to a 1!”) [1] It was fun building reality (one database table at a time).

You might think that doing all this surrounded by consultants would inhibit creativity. I found the opposite. Like all techies, when I’m coding I want to be left alone. However, when I come up for air I want to do it around hard-working, sharp folks who make me laugh. My left brain coded while my right brain was entertained by tales from this almost comically fast moving industry[2].

Of late, a lot of people have asked me why I’m leaving after all this time. The answer to this question is manifold and complex. A better question would be why did I stay so long. The answer to this question is simple: it was interesting. On every level.

Recruitment consultants are alright. Moreover, the job they do is worthy. Every bit of complexity I had to deal with made the employment market slicker. Some people feel trapped by their jobs and the only cure for this is to move. In this context, liquidity of the employment market is directly proportional to free will. Recruitment matters.

I may be deploying my own free will by leaving the industry to follow my passion for data but, before I go, I want to say: thank you, Recruitment, it was great.


[1] Note to self: deserving of its own post

[2] Conversational tip: if you get stuck talking to a recruitment consultant at a party (they get everywhere!) then ask them this: “tell me about your best drop-out”