So let me briefly take you into the world of filmmaking. Like any creative business, filmmaking is just that - a business. It’s there to entertain, inform, make you laugh, make you cry, dazzle and amaze you. It’s also there to make money. Nonetheless a Film Director will have a vision of how they want their film to look. They’ll have been inspired by previous film directors and the one hundred year + heritage of the cinema to inform the kind of film they’re making.
So the writer is going to be crucial. The tone of the script dictates so much. As is the choice of cinematographer – they’re the guys who get the look of the film: who can make tricky lighting conditions appear magical; who can make indifferent looking actors look beguiling or intelligent or whatever they need to look. And don’t forget the sound people, make-up artists and technicians, special effects teams. And so on and so on. They’re all going to need to be well chosen to make sure that the film comes together in the way it’s been envisoned. And it helps if these are people who can work well in a huge and cooperative team within a film set.
But wait, we’ve left one person out. The Casting Director. Casting Directors really can make or break a film can’t they. They bring the vision and creative insight that seeks out a truly inspirational bit of casting that in turn makes all the difference. Imagine your favourite films without those particular key actors in them. And it’s the Casting Directors who have the vision to “see” certain actors’ possibilities. These are actors who might have what at first seem like odd faces or appear not to have the right experience or training. But it’s the Casting Director who can see past that to the possibility of what an individual can bring – and that’s very often what takes cinema down a very different path, doing things in ways they’ve never been done before. They’re clever, influential and respected. And pretty well paid.
And yet … let’s shift our focus to the world of design, brand and strategic consultancy. A sector where the collateral lies solely in it’s people. That’s all we have in this sector. But if you ask around the design industry whether they value their Recruitment Consultants in the same way that the film industry values their Casting Directors and they’ll probably choke. Of course some recruiters don’t warrant respect and a place at the table. They’re hustlers who don’t know much about the industries they purport to serve or care about who goes to what job. They don’t bother to meet their candidates or even their clients. So fair enough – no respect going in either direction.
BUT a good Recruitment Consultant will be just that – a strategic consultant with the knowledge and experience to really make a positive difference to your business. They will use their experience and take the time to talk with you, listen to your longer term ambitions for the company and come back with thoughtful and innovative ideas which will help you to grow and move beyond “business as usual” or recruiting just “more of the same”. Just as you would do with your own clients – hopefully you’d listen to their problems, ambitions and have an understanding of the competitive marketplace and then you’d work strategically and innovatively to deliver commercially effective results that also make your client happy.
Of course you’d never do all of that consulting on a free pitch basis. The design, branding and strategic sectors are rightly dead against that kind of exploitation. Yet they expect their Recruitment Consultant (if they deign to use them) to do it all for nothing until they actually make a successful placement. And even then they often quibble over the fees. That would be like a creative design company not getting paid until they’d gone live with the website they’d designed, or the shop they designed had been trading for a few months or the branding programme they’d implemented had been in place for a while. Which would mean that the agencies’ knowledge, expertise and overheads during the actual consultation and delivery process would be totally free to their clients. An unacceptable situation of course. So why ask the Recruitment Consultant to take that sort of a commercial punt on your whim?
“Do as you would be done by” may have an old fashioned ring about it but by heck, it’s a good mantra for a good life. I’ve been a committed and caring, a strategically consultative and innovative Recruitment Consultant in the creative industries for twenty something years. I really do know what I’m doing. As do other Recruitment Consultants that I know and respect in this sector. So utilise our skills. Respect our knowledge. Listen when we give sound advice on how to write a decent job description which will not only attract valuable candidates but will move your agency on. Don’t treat us badly when we take the time to come in to listen to you and (short notice cancellations, no room booked, no cup of tea offered are all unprofessional signals whoever you are). Accept that we have our finger on the pulse and impartial and informed view on your sector and the people in it.
I’m not asking for an Oscar (in fact Casting Directors don’t get Oscars – just one honorary one so far). I just want the same respect that you would extend to anybody who’d dedicated a professional lifetime to doing a good job.