We need to talk about Janet and Nicholas and Edward and Sophie and Emma and Jonathan and countless others I speak to all of the time.

We need to talk about why brilliant people reach the point of near despair in their search for new roles.

We need to talk about the abject, thoughtless, arrogant, self-serving, self-congratulatory, narrow-minded, closed-thinking dickery that hangs over the recruitment of people into new roles.

We need to stop pretending that there is a need for the shitshower of recruiters that stalk Linked-in or who recycle the utter bollocks they have heard at a fawning forgettable reception when a nondescript CEO, briefed moments before being handed a mic, says he wants his GC to be a “business partner”. FFS.

We need to stop being frightened of owning a recruitment decision and handing the process over to something part way between the Spanish Inquisition and a piss-poor game-show format.

We need to see that the selection algorithm in an on-line process was coded by someone who knows the square root of fuck all about you and me and what we are like, our work, our life, our contribution, our potential. It is an inadequate cop-out to filter CVs because recruiters cannot be arsed to read CV’s anymore, because having told people how to write them, they all look the fucking same.

Recruitment is a way to pimp conformity. It shames people to lose individuality and denies weakness. It ensures shortlists have less to do with choice, potential, stories and opportunity; and drives safe decisions. Recruitment is about securing the recruiters fee. Fuck the candidates, fuck imagination, fuck reflection, fuck being interested in people.

I meet people who are extraordinary; lives lived, stories to tell, triumphs and adversities and kindness in all aspects of their careers. I meet them months into their search for a new role, broken down by a process that wants them to be ten years younger; that wants them to have worked for a FTSE100 because that means “you are more credible”; or that wonders “if only having EMEA on the CV is global enough”. People are broken by this nonsense; and for what?

There are, of course, some great people in recruitment. I know they will be cross with me for saying these things about their industry. I admire them, respect them and trust them, but they are too few in number and they have not yet reinvented their industry. My plea to them is not to be seen like so many candidates see the whole industry.

For every shortlist of say ten candidates there was a long-list of twenty or more, but dozens, maybe hundreds who applied. If you are underwhelmed by the shortlist presented to you, it isn’t because there is a lack of talent at this level, or your sector is hard to recruit for, or your geography is unattractive. It is because your recruiter is a knob.

Why are you limiting opportunity, creating artificial barriers, paying for Hackneyed and cliched buzzwords and ultimately wasting the time of nearly everyone concerned? CV’s tell stories and people do amazing things. You just have to listen. Janet and Nicholas and Edward and Sophie and Emma and Jonathan deserve to be heard. When you next think about recruiting, please do not outsource your judgement to an HR designed compliance manual. Please do not expect your recruiter to “know the market”. Be deeply and fully involved. Take some risk. See people who offer different things. LISTEN TO WHO THEY ARE AND WHAT THEY HAVE DONE. Be kind to those people who you do not take forward. Be enthused by the opportunity you have to learn and inspire people to be all of their talent.

…And whatever you do, at the very least, please ensure your recruiter does not fuck about with people’s career hopes and aspirations. Whatever is done, it is done in your name and you own it.

Take care. Paul