The Recruitment Triathlon

I have been in recruitment for around 30 years, and I have been participating in triathlons for almost 20 years, they have both given me a solid foundation to lean on as I have slowly progressed through the twists and turns of  life. During a recent conversation with some fellow triathletes, it was noted that there seems to be a relatively high percentage of recruiters in the sport, and that got us thinking about the parallels between the two. Here are just a few of the thoughts we came up with.

Three Elements: In triathlon, there are three separate sports (swim, bike, run). All require different skills and knowledge, and while we may favour one over the other, you still need to complete all three to successfully finish the race. The same can be said of recruitment, the three separate elements (Job, Client, Candidate) all requiring different market knowledge, skills and approach, however all must be dealt with successfully to bring the search to a fruitful conclusion.

Taking a long-term view. Triathlon, even in its shortest version, is much more of a marathon than a sprint, and looking for a quick fix today, such as jumping too quickly into harder workouts, or ignoring weakness in one sport to focus on another, will often lead to injury or breakdown. The same can be said for recruitment, while the temptation maybe there to cut corners, patience is required and actions such as pushing the wrong candidate or downplaying relative weaknesses, could easily lead to failure further down the track.

Time management and juggling priorities. Dividing time between training each sport and knowing what to focus on while still dealing with normal life stresses such as work and family, are critical to triathlon. This is equally if not more important with recruitment. Knowing when to focus on client or candidate issues, communicating properly with all parties and ensuring good relationships are maintained at all times, making sure that correct process is followed and having the ability to quickly switch between roles, are all very critical to the job.

Being self-driven. I belong to a group called the Pathetic Triathletes Group, which is all about owning and making fun of our athletic failures along the way, but still pushing ourselves forward, even when feeling tired and beset by self-doubt. Similarly, while we all know that recruitment can be disheartening at times, recruiters need to have the self-belief and discipline to keep pushing even when nothing seems to be going right. The key is to focus on the goal, trust in your experience, knowledge and training, and push through.

It’s all about the journey. A triathlete will put in many months training just to be able to reach the goal of successfully completing a race. Recruiters will often spend weeks and months working on each role, with the goal of successfully making a placement. So, while the goal is what drives us forward, that is just a tiny percentage of the whole process, and it’s actually more about successfully navigating the journey then it is about reaching the destination.

While I have written specifically about the two things I know best, I believe the majority of these points are true for most pursuits worth pursuing, and could be applied to many jobs and pastimes. We must always keep an eye on the goal, but as with so much in life, the finish line is just recognition of all the hard work that’s gone on before,  and immediately its reached (or maybe after short time for recovery), the desire to get back to the challenge grows, and we start the whole process all over again.