I was recently lucky enough to visit Japan, a fascinating country with a diverse, rich and unique culture, much in contrast to the West. I was particularly drawn to the tradition and history of Japan; the Geisha, the Samurai, the wonder of the bamboo forests, the might of Mount Fuji but I was also struck by how they strive for perfection and how they master their profession and or art.
Whether it be the fact that all their trains are on time. They have the most 3* Michelin restaurants in the world. The lack of rubbish, or that a Maiko (Geisha apprentice), will train for 5 years to achieve the status of Geiko. During this time, they will have no access to a TV, Facebook, or any other technology. They receive no wage. It is hard to imagine that such young women, Maiko are typically aged between 14 and 17, volunteer for this, mainly due to a sense of honour, to preserve and maintain such traditions. This apprenticeship and service to a trade is not unique, a Sushi Chef will also generally serve as an apprentice for 5 years, working with a master itamae before they are given their first job, preparation of the sushi rice and so it continues across professions.
So back to the western world and yes, recruitment. Our industry gets a good deal of bad press, in some cases quite rightly. The industry attracts many individuals through promises of big bucks, working with people and looses just as many through bad management, a lack of training, unprofessional practices etc. However, like any other profession, to become great, takes a significant amount of time and experience, indeed, if you subscribe to Malcolm Gladwells bestseller Outliers, the magic number of greatness is 10,000 hours, or 6-10 years.
It reminded me of a post from Miles Jennings ‘Why Recruiting Looks Easy’, Miles talks about a children’s book 20 heartbeats. In it, a wealthy Chinese man asks a painter for a painting of his favourite horse, years go by and still no painting. The wealthy man eventually goes to the painter wanting his money back. The painter pulls out a piece of parchment and paints the horse in less than the time of 20 heartbeats. The wealthy man, initially perplexed, as he had paid so much money and waited so long for a painting that took so little time, soon realised that actually the painter had been practising his art for all this time to produce, what was now, a perfect image.
Many see recruitment as simple, easy even. The reality is few really succeed and last for any time, for those of us who do, we dedicate our working life to becoming the best we can be across our specialist area, constantly crafting our trade.
In our search for excellence, time is a wise teacher, or, to quote Fred Astaire on his dancing:
‘If it doesn’ t look easy, it is that we have not tried hard enough yet”
To become an expert takes time.
If you want to work with a good recruiter, do your research, find an expert, a specialist, someone who has learnt their craft. Ask them when was the last time and how many times have they successfully delivered a role like yours, or helped an individual like you. A Geisha we might not be, but some of us have spent years learning our craft and take great pride in the delivery of the service we provide.
We hope we can help and work with you in the future on our continued search for excellence.
Michelle Ansell is a founding partner of Douglas Jackson, working as a management consultant within talent acquisition, Michelle has been serving customer led business and leaders to recruit and retain the best talent for over 15 years.