How many people can actually say this after 30 years in the same profession? My last couple of placements were particularly rewarding. And not because of the fee attached (icing on the cake, actually).
The reasons they were so satisfying got me to thinking back on a career spanning thirty years (painful to admit numbers, but they are what they are).
How is it after countless placements, endless assignments and exposure to most every job close scenario, with a few surprises attached, that I can still take personal satisfaction with most every placement I make?
Because, ultimately, its not about the numbers. It's about the people and relationships. The longer I am in this profession the more I grade myself, not on fee amounts, but on the quality of the hire. Not that the fees are secondary. Like any good capitalist I charge well and good for my services. Having already achieved considerable success and recognition as a known entity in my vertical, I have the good fortune to hone and practice my skill in a more strategic and consultative manor.
Fledgling recruiters cut their teeth chasing deals and dollars. If they stick it out, they experience many dings and dents while perfecting their craft. I think recruiting, like any worthy discipline, takes years and years of practice. Perfect practice, to quote a dear mentor and friend. Many, many years of making mistakes, taking risks and building a base of relationships and hard won placements earns one a place in the competitive recruiting world.
Sure, you get the occasional superstar biller who rarely, or so it seems, makes a misstep. But most of us are mere human, doggedly perfecting our craft and building our toolboxes and databases. And still, there are no guarantees. A loss of a market vertical, a deep recession and/or high unemployment can knock the most experienced headhunter off her pedestal. The great recession saw a 60% reduction in recruiters. Some survived, others just gave up and got out.
Maybe just surviving such a severe and recent market Armageddon reminds me to be especially appreciative for every placement won. I think though, its really rooted in the appreciation of the great relationships I've built over the years, the ongoing client/candidate loyalty, the mutual respect, the trust. Along with mature relationships, the gratification of a great rapport built with newer candidates, their confidence in my clients, my ability to shepherd them through the process and no matter what the results, achieve an enduring rapport.
The real joy comes from knowing I've just enhanced someones personal life. Whether through a big raise, a promotion or working with a new boss/company they believe in, there's something empowering (and humbling) about making what you intend to be a short and long term positive impact on an individuals life. Hey, maybe in my advanced headhunting years, I'm becoming more soft and sentimental, though I'd like to think I'm just a little bit more appreciative of how fortunate I've been through a career spanning multiple market rollercoaster rides.
All I know is that as hard as some days, clients, assignments may be, I love my job more now than at any other time. If I can impart the same to candidates and clients alike, I've added some value to the world. Its a good premise to recruit by.