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That time when I realised that you should only ever try to control yourself

In recruitment, at the very core of what we do is one thing and one thing alone: humans.

Although a big fan of humans in general, understanding the challenges of dealing with humans was a steep learning curve for me in my first year of recruitment. Why? Well, because humans are brilliant creatures with their own free will, and who will make whatever decisions they want to, whenever they want to. If you are someone who prides yourself on order, structure and doing things properly, recognising that the product or service you are providing is ultimately beyond your control takes a little work. But that work is entirely worth it.

Given that your professional purpose as a recruiter is to bring the right humans together, you have to recognise quickly that all of the stakeholders with whom you interact, throughout the hiring process, are ALL humans with their own free will. You have no power to control the outcome of the work you are doing and, frankly, nor should you.

Many recruiters focus on the end result – filling a role – when the reality is that we are here as connectors and enablers. We are the ones who can make good introductions and spot great opportunities, but everything else has to be because all the other parties involved have decided that it’s the right thing for them to do.

I think that one of the reasons that people struggle with recruitment, is that they feel unable to let go of this control. By failing to do so, and by trying to reach beyond the optimum sphere of influence, they alienate the other people involved, and frustrate themselves in the process. That’s where a bad reputation can be and has been born.

The truth is, you can never control other people, whether personally or professionally, and you should never seek to. You have to give people space to grow and allow them to make their own choices. You can’t tell a smart person why a job is awesome: they have to learn it themselves; and the same applies to hiring managers in reverse.

What you can do, though, is create the opportunity and platform for people to make the right connections. Our skill should be in selecting a sound group of people with applicable experience and complementary personalities, and bringing those people together.

My approach to hiring, on joining the recruitment profession, quickly became focused on the human element, recognising my role as consultant and catalyst, rather than dictator. When I present a shortlist for a role, I have no concerns that anyone will select the ‘wrong’ person for a role: that is because I am happy with the work I am doing and the choices I am making when making my shortlist.

When you allow yourself to become frustrated by a lack of control of something, it’s an utterly pointless exercise. One of the biggest revelations of my adult life has been an awareness of my reactions to situations, which is something I will continue to work on. We will never be able to control the world around us; what we can control is our reaction to it.

When we feel ourselves reacting to a person or a problem, that is the time to check in with yourself and register the fact that all of these things are beyond your control and that the only thing that is truly making you suffer is your own reaction. You are creating and allowing that reaction to exist, when you actually just need to let it go.

For me, merely clocking that fact has been enough. By taking a step back and seeing something for what it is, I can often stop the feeling altogether and switch my focus back to me. I ask myself: ‘Am I doing the best I can do, with what I have?’, and ‘Am I making the right choices?’ If my answer here is yes, then I feel able to walk away knowing I have done a great job, or reacted to something in a way I am proud of.

So if we don’t hire someone after 6 weeks of interviews, and start the process all over again, I know that it’s because it’s the right thing to do. We just didn’t connect the right humans this time; therefore, for all the people involved, that IS the right thing. In my experience, whenever people are forced to do anything they aren’t comfortable with, it almost always ends badly. We want to hire people who will love their job, love working at Shazam and whom we will love having here. That’s when everybody really wins, and that’s why it’s so important to get it right – for all of us.