Things We Think And Do Not Say

In the film Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise plays a high-powered sports agent who has so many clients that he doesn’t really care about them. I bet that you can see the recruitment angle already….

Tom Cruise - Jerry Maguire

However, one night he has a panic attack in a lonely hotel room, and writes a memo titled “The Things We Think and Do Not Say: The Future of Our Business.”

One of the things he writes is that agents should be less concerned about money and more concerned about their clients. That gets him a standing ovation in the office, but a few days later, when he's fired, he understands why agents do not say those things they think.

He sets up his own agency but loses his entire client base, apart from the wide receiver Rod (Cuba Gooding Junior). Jerry is also joined by just one of his former colleagues (Renee Zellweger), whom he promptly falls in love with, and he builds a fulfilling relationship with Rod, where money is not the only object.

Rod learns to play from the heart and in the final scenes it is clear that their success only came because they cared about each other as people. Rod trusted Jerry with his future.

There are too many parallels with recruitment to mention in this short blog, but in the tradition of Jerry Maguire’s memo, here is one thought from me (that we don’t often say):

Recruitment is transactional because candidates don’t trust recruiters, and recruiters don’t do enough to earn their trust.

Clients in formal meeting

I don’t know where to start, apart from the obvious place…. It is thought that most recruiters are in it for the money. Place a candidate, get a fee, the production line of new “meat” rolls on and that is how it works.

Jerry Maguire felt that he was in the same place. Send a CV, get an interview, manage the negotiation, place the candidate. It is a process – the involved parties either agree on things or they don’t, and you move on. Sounds pretty transactional, doesn’t it?

Yes, it does, but there is always another way. As an industry, we don’t do enough for our candidates to trust us. Clients trust us because we invest time in building a relationship with them, but there are so many candidates coming through our doors that it is seemingly impossible to develop that personal connection with any of them.

Without this relationship with the candidates, it will always be a transaction – recruiters will never be able to foster a true dialogue to find the best possible fit for everyone.

For me, it is all about the small steps. It starts with truly caring about them as human beings. They are coming to a recruiter at a time of great personal upheaval – the least we can do is to make every effort to understand the person behind the CV. If we show them that we care, they will open up that little bit more.

This relationship may not last for longer than the duration of their job search, or even longer than the duration of an initial interview, but if a recruiter tries to care, then the candidate’s trust will be all the easier to earn.

Written by Lee Narraway and Edited by Paul Drury

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