The Magic Formula

Written by Simon Harris

Simon manages affix - a digital recruitment agency based in Melbourne and Brisbane, that's bringing positive change to the industry. He's heavily involved in the startup scene, acting as a mentor for young businesses looking to scale. He doesn't take himself too seriously, loves techno, being pompous about wine and thinks dolphins are sly.
Who’s got the biggest bollocks?


As a young recruiter, you step into a world of unknowns, an unforgiving environment littered with sales lingo, unfamiliar terms, and bullshit.

If you’re the new guy…you need to prove yourself! Your quick wit and ‘gift of the gab’ will only get you so far so you need to learn…fast.

Learning wasn’t going to be so easy. Sure, there was a standard training program, but I’ve never really been a ‘training program’ kind of bloke. I wanted to get on the floor, get stuck in and ‘hit the phones’. Surely I’d learn more out there with the top billers?

Back then, the IT market was booming and business was fruitful. The office was a hive of constant activity, noise, and banter. The bell rang all day long and rounds of applause were aplenty. Competition between consultants was fierce and there was no shortage of ‘who’s got the newest Rolex and the biggest bollocks’.

Sadly I didn’t have Rolex but thankfully I did have bollocks so it seemed like a good place to get started, learn the ropes and earn the big bucks! I was given my desk, patch and away I went. Luckily enough I was sitting opposite one of the biggest billers in the company, a young, dynamic fella who made it seem all too easy…almost comically easy. He treated this job as a game and he played it with perfection. He’d make call after call, talking to each unsuspecting recipient with the familiarity of a best friend and it worked a treat. If I could soak up so much as a drop of his wisdom, I’d be flashing that Rolex in no time!

Time wasn’t exactly on my side in the office. I could listen in to his calls and ask the odd question but we all had jobs to do. I needed a place that was away from the hustle and bustle of the office, a place that I could ask questions with little interruption and earn his trust…The pub. There’s no better place on earth to gain the trust of a recruiter than the pub. The pub was going to be my mecca of wisdom, the holy center of recruitment knowledge. I’ll Step inside, buy him a few rounds and I’d be on the road to Wisdomville in no time.

The formula


I was ready. Give me tips, give me all the tricks in the book, I want that Rolex!

That’s when I first heard the phrase…


‘Recruitment…It’s a numbers game mate, it’s a formula’

Wait…what? A formula? Surely it can’t be that easy.

I wasn’t going to complain, I mean who would? Why get rich learning stuff when I can just apply this formula and it sorts itself out. Perfect, I’ll take one formula, please!

Now that formula did me well. It wasn’t hard to know how many jobs you needed to be working at a time to get results. The more jobs you had, the more CVs you’d send which meant more interviews and then deals. Everyone had a formula and it pretty much did the job.

Looking back, I don’t know how I did it. 13 hour days, 30 roles at a time and 6 core hours of cold calling…YUK!

It’s the 30 jobs at a time that on reflection, I find hard to grasp. Imagine looking after 30 children at once or trying to ride 30 bikes! It’s impossible, so why is recruitment any different?


That was then….


So let’s fast forward 12 years to now. Are consultants still being told that there is a magical formula for recruitment?

Sadly…The answer is yes.

“You spend too much time with your clients and candidates. We need volume and transactions. It’s like a sausage factory, the more meat you put in, the more sausages you get out”

The above phrase is 100% true. It’s been said by a human, to another human about recruitment. Yes, it’s funny, but it’s actually a sad reflection on the stagnant state of some people in the industry.

There is still a place for a formula, it’s what the formula represents that needs to change. I struggle to see how a formula, so dependent on the number of roles that you work at a time, be relevant in modern recruitment. Concentrating on that number being as high as possible is not only detrimental to everybody involved in that process, it also makes the process difficult.


Does that mean I’m not getting a Rolex?


If recruitment really is a numbers game or formula, surely every recruiter under the sun could adopt the same tactic and earn a fortune. It would be like the good old days, we could all buy Rolex’s again and talk about how big our bollocks are.

Sadly, it’s not. Recruitment has changed and continues to do so at an alarming rate. Success should no longer be measured by the number of roles you’re working on but the integrity and longevity of the relationships you have with your clients. When you build successful, meaningful connections with your clients, you can be the face of their business, you’re purposefully telling their story to an engaged audience and acting as a true partner.

Nobody wants to be part of a meaningless formula, full of loose engagement and empty promises so let’s stand by a new formula. A formula which is simple, effective and benefits everyone.

The Formula is dead, long live the formula! 

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