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Pretty Recruiter.

We all remember the 1990 classic Pretty Woman. Essentially Hollywood’s incredible ability to turn LA’s bleak and horrendous sex trade into a romantic classic delivering one of the largest box office takes of all time… only as Hollywood can. Hollywood dark arts aside I recently started to feel a bit like ‘Vivian’ Julia Roberts character in this modern day Cinderella. No I haven’t developed a penchant for red dresses and lying across grand pianos.. nor will you find me wandering the tough streets of Derry anytime soon.. I just don’t have the legs for it.

We know that a level of ‘ego’ can be a problem with some corporates – usually the larger ones to be fair. I’ve worked with quite a few – however normally you can find enough humility and decision makers to get the job done. In my particular scenario you always had a grating feeling that the client at various points of the process wanted you to get down on your knees and worship their ‘awesomeness’… this makes it difficult to give feedback as to just how poor, disjointed, slow, inconsistent and non-candidate centric their processes actually were.

Clients in this ‘Edward Lewis’ space also seem to forget that recruiters in the main work at risk… something they wouldn’t do themselves. Not in any lifetime. But lets list the failures that permeated this particular divorce process;

  • Ineffective and illogical separation of the candidate processing function – in this particular case with separation in terms of both geography and function.
  • Poor candidate feedback – or worse still non-existent candidate feedback. Two lines of feedback after a three-stage interview process over a three month timeline doesn’t really cut it in these talent hungry times.
  • A 120-day plus interview to formal offer timeframe – in a sector where competitors can do it in a matter of hours.
  • An outdated ATS platform. One of the long termers… one million lines of code on top of additional medieval code… enough said.


All this would be reason enough to call it day … but the crunch came when we were told we should have been grateful to be invited to the table in the first place. Vivian’s quote near the end of Pretty Woman is apt:

“When I was a little girl, my mama used to lock me in the attic when I was bad, which was pretty often. And I would – I would pretend I was a princess… trapped in a tower by a wicked queen. And then suddenly this knight… on a white horse with these colors flying would come charging up and draw his sword. And I would wave. And he would climb up the tower and rescue me. But never in all the time… that I had this dream did the knight say to me, “Come on, baby, I’ll put you up in a great condo.”

Sometimes the allure of the big corporate win is just that… an allure. Just because they have a Lotus, a white Limousine, snappy suit and a large wallet doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy a house in the country together (notice the film stops shortly after the Limo arrives). I doubt Vivian and Edward would have raised Biff, River and Dora. Yes we suffer from the negative trappings of a stupidly unregulated industry.. but some of us have standards. Exemplar standards. We know our industry and perhaps more crucially we know where to draw the line in the sand.

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