“Where’s the money coming from? Am I doing the right thing? Why are people saying stay where you are?” Recently escaped Big 4 Accountant Brendan gives an honest, thoughtful insight to some experiences gained from dealing with Recruitment Consultants (“RC”) when looking to do something different.

Over the last few months, I have been on the mother of all brainstorms to try and work out what it is that I actually want to do. Whilst, the answer for my destination is not quite clear yet, I have learnt a few things along the way which I thought I would share in relation to a recurring element…. namely the Recruitment Consultant (“RC”).

As you grow up and your career begins to take shape, you are continually lead to believe that in order to get a new job you must employ the services of a RC. It fast becomes apparent that your life can be dictated by people who know nothing about you, but have a hugely significant impact on your life. These are, the RC and the Estate Agent (a whole other topic and one I don’t have time for now!)

Now, there are certainly times when you need the help of a good RC, but pulling on experience over the last year, a number of recurring themes have emerged.

The following are the top 5 things not to believe about RC’s:

1. Everything they say

Yes, I appreciate this is quite a damning first statement but hear me out. When you decide it’s time to make a change and get in touch with an RC, you can positively see their eyes light up with dollar signs… you are their bonus, their monthly sales target, their next placed statistic.

Sadly, the motivations of the RC and you or I, are somewhat misaligned. We want to further our careers / make a change / do something different, whereas they want to make some money. I recently went to visit an RC from a respectable company in London, who ‘loved’ my CV. The role he was pushing sounded great, but I wasn’t sure I had all experience they were looking for, so I was a touch skeptical.

My initial impressions were compounded when I was talked at for an age, told that my extensive Corporate Finance experience (I don’t have any) and background were a perfect fit for the role. I was interested to see where this was going, as he gave me the inside track on the recruitment process, including questions asked, scenarios used in assessment centre and what to ask the company. So let him get in touch with the company, and wait to hear back. He made a used car salesman, look like a schoolboy.

Obviously, everything he said had huge dollops of fiction and I have yet to hear back from him (even after phoning and contacting the firm).

Now, I must point out that I am not bitter about this experience, more bemused.  It confirmed my opinion that we get too sucked in to the spiel the RC comes out with, especially if they are talking to you. How can they know what it is you want to do, if you don’t speak?

Next time you meet one, just sit back and see what they say. Are you driving the conversation or are you being talked at…?

2. “It’s not possible…”

These words have been uttered a number of times when meeting an RC. As the question of career direction has been raised more frequently of late, I’ve wanted to make a change. From an accounting background, making a move into something non-numbers based always gets the ‘plumber effect’…this is a sharp intake of breath through the teeth (& if you are actually meeting a plumber, followed by “It’ll cost you”).

I believe that anything is possible should you put your mind to it, and there is no reason why a job or career is any different. Yes, there are stumbling blocks and hurdles to overcome, but why should a RC prevent you from following your dream because it’s difficult for them to find you the job?!?

I would encourage anyone who wants to do achieve your dream, to grasp the opportunity with both hands. If you want to get a graduate position, apply, network and keep trying. Just because you are not Oxbridge, doesn’t mean the top firms won’t take you. Conversely, should a change of career be the desire we have one of the best resources available on the web…. Escape The City, use it!

3. The past prevents the future.

Half the fun of getting older, means you are able to try new things. This certainly applies to the working career although RC’s will quite happily tell you that changing direction / industry / job is difficult (or at least it is without their help).

If you want to do something different, then do it. If you wish to make a change, go for it. Just because you have been pigeon-holed to date, don’t let it stop you from being what you want to be. There is no reason why, by putting in some thought you can’t make a new move.

4. Expect them to keep in touch.

Within a service company, the service given to clients is the key driver behind a positive or negative experience. I’m sure we can all think of examples whereby you feel you have been let down by the service you have received or been impressed by the simple things being done well.

RC’s are no different. You will find some are far better than others. Sadly a common theme, especially in the current economic climate, is that you have to chase them. This strikes me as being skewed in emphasis. When you approach a RC, the reason you chose them is, I’m sure, due to a number of factors… recommendations, areas of focus, breadth of experience etc. However, the RC seems to have forgotten that we are their clients, thereby deserving a focus of service. Too many times a good initial meeting has been held, only to go weeks without hearing from them. Nothing. Zip. Nada.

It is up to us to continually ask for an update, find out if there has been any news, or further opportunities. I fully appreciate that times are hard and movement between jobs is easier when the economy is booming and people are happily spending HR budgets, but the fact remains that manners (more than anything) are important. To sit on the other side of the fence, it may not feel like it has been that long since you spoke to a client, but if the other person is expectantly waiting for some news, it can feel like an age.

This not a case of soar grapes towards RC’s, I just feel that the human values inherent within business are perhaps being lost. It certainly makes me more aware of what I will do well when starting my business, as I don’t want to fall into the same traps!

5. Stay Positive

Ok, so the last point is less around the RC and more around you, but it remains key. I have been on a journey over the last 6 months as the realisation that it may (& is) possible to make a change. Change is always viewed sceptically but often brings around efficiencies. In my case, the chance to make a complete change and work towards being happy is the biggest driver.

That said, it’s not always easy to stay positive. As the big day (not wedding but ‘Escape Day’) comes closer you begin to worry about what happens next: where’s the money coming from? Am I doing the right thing? Why are people saying stay where you are? The reason you are making the big leap is because you want to do something different. Please remember that. I have had wobbles about the questions above, but I am committed to giving it a go. I would rather try and fail, than not try at all. And what’s the worst that can happen, you leave, find what you enjoy, it becomes your career and you are happy.

That doesn’t sound so bad…..does it?