Last year was a weird year for me.
My partner and I moved out of our flat in London after three years and moved back home with our parents, which, as you can imagine, was a seamless transition without any issues.
We bought our first home! Well, we started the process in 2020, but six months and countless arguments with our solicitors later, we managed to move in January 2021.
I was able to work from home for the first time in my life! Unfortunately, this was bittersweet as although I was allowed to work from home, I could not leave the house for anything other than medical emergencies and exercise (If you can remember, there was a global pandemic at the time).
However, hands down the strangest thing that happened last year were becoming a parent for the first time. Don’t get me wrong, having our first child was the most amazing, thrilling, humbling, and remarkable thing to happen in my life, but it has also been a very, very weird experience.
For me, the last 18 months have been a time of reflection, and while thinking about the last 5 years of my career and the first year of being a father, I’ve noticed many similarities between the two.
In this blog, I’d like to share some of those with you.
1. The Same Process Doesn’t Always Yield the Same Results
Some days, I’ll feed my son some milk, read him a quick story, and he’ll go into his cot happy as Larry and fall asleep within minutes. Yet, as I mentally write this article one hour and fifteen minutes into attempting to put him down for a nap, he’s half-asleep in my arms and has been for several minutes. However, I know that if I cough, sneeze, or move an inch, he’ll be wide awake and screaming again.
I followed the same process as yesterday, but for reasons, I can’t fathom I’ll probably be here for another twenty minutes until he’s entirely out for the count, and I can put him down.
Overwhelming this has been my experience in recruitment. I can find a suitable candidates, meet them, reference them, help them improve their CV, introduce them to my clients, organise multiple interviews, and get a couple of offers on the table. Most of the time this will lead to a placement, but every now and then the offer will be withdrawn, the candidate will go missing, or someone will eat a bat and put a freeze on recruitment within the public sector for six months. In this situation, I usually take on the role of the screaming baby.
2. The Early Bird Catches the Worm
Whether you’re lying in bed debating whether or not to catch the later train or trying to get an extra five minutes of sleep on the sofa while your son watches Teletubbies in the early hours of the morning, I promise you it is always better to just get up and crack on with your day.
At work, this is the time I can respond to emails, help candidates with their CVs, catch up on any admin, and even write articles like this one. It’s also very therapeutic to sit in a quiet office and have a cup of coffee before starting work, as opposed to running straight through the door and making calls.
At home, things are a bit different. If my son decides to have a lie-in this rule doesn’t apply and I’ll take every second of sleep available to me. However, on the odd occasion, he decides he’s had enough of looking at the ceiling and wants to explore the rest of the house at four o’clock in the morning, I find it’s always better to get up and either spend some quality time with him or do some bits around the house so we can enjoy the rest of the day.
3. Two Heads Are Better than One
At home and at work, I’m lucky enough to have a strong team around me. Both I and my partner work flexibly, enabling us to take advantage of two incomes. We also share childcare responsibilities, which is something my mum never had when I was growing up.
Having two people working full time certainly has its challenges, but when one of us is particularly busy or has a meeting, the other can take over.
The same is true at work. We’ve had people come and go from our team, but I’ve always had a support network around me to share the workload, bounce ideas off, and vice versa.
Having a good team at work has also helped at home as there have been countless times where I’ve attended meetings with my son on my lap or had to rearrange meetings last minute to accommodate childcare arrangements.
4. Persistence Beats Resistance
I used the word persistence here because it rhymes with resistance, but it’s not quite what I’m trying to say. I suppose I really want to say that patience or perseverance beats resistance, but that doesn’t read quite as well. I’ve left this one until last as I think this will resonate with most parents, and indeed most recruiters.
The first year of recruitment is painful. This is a bit of a generalisation, but it certainly was for me and ninety percent of the recruiters I know. When you’re new to sales, you’re also new to the industry you’re recruiting into, and, if we’re being honest, you don’t really know what you’re doing.
As a result, you may find yourself calling hundreds of people every week in a bid to learn what it is your candidates do and what your clients are looking for. At this stage in your career, all you can do is try to absorb as much information as possible, try not to sound too silly, and persevere.
This is the most significant parallel I noticed between recruitment and parenthood. In the lead-up to having our son, I read every baby book I could find, watched all the videos, and attended all the zoom classes. Still, it was only when the big day finally came, and we returned home from the hospital with our bundle of joy that I distinctly remember thinking, “Oh $@#%, I have no idea how to look after a baby.”
I think it is only after a few weeks of night feeds broken sleep, and staring bleary-eyed at the sunrise that you realise that this isn’t an exact science. Your job is to turn up every day, try your best, and hang in there until things click into place.
I don’t want this article to turn sound like a sermon, but I think perseverance is the key to most activities in life. Perseverance is challenging because it’s passive and isn’t something you can wake up and do, nor can you work at it or try to overcome it. It’s the acceptance that if success was an equation, then time is a significant component. Despite your best efforts, results won’t come overnight. Your job is to just keep trying your best until you vaguely understand what you’re doing.
I hope this article is an interesting read for anyone starting out in recruitment, anyone starting a family. And if somehow, you’ve just started a new career in recruitment, and you are expecting your first child, well, best of luck, and try not to kill anyone.