Recruiters, this is the one trait that is ruining your career

Recruiters, this is how you destroy your own career.

Recruiters, you won’t like this. But this is the one trait that is ruining your career and negatively impacting your life.

Wasted emotion.

That is what is destroying your job satisfaction. That is what is leading an army of recruiters to burn out and fade into the sunset.

Wasted emotion

Don’t get me wrong. Being emotional about placing people in jobs is normal. In fact, it’s essential. I love the passion of a recruiter on a mission to fill a job, or place a candidate. I am cool with screams of joy, or moans of despair. I love a placement dance and used to pump out a mean John Travolta/Bee Gees type number myself when I pulled down a big placement, back in the day.

In fact one memorable deal in London in the 80’s got me so excited I danced from desk to desk, kissed the Jamaican cleaning lady on both cheeks, sashayed down the stairs and across the road to the ‘Pig and Whistle’, where I stayed till 11.30 pm. All good.


That is healthy emotion. It’s wasted emotion you have to curb and eliminate.

The days of moping because a placement fell through. The bitterness and angst over a temp who bombed out. The tears and recriminations over some meaningless in-office spat. The self-pity and ‘woe is me’ because a candidate got a counter-offer. The slumped shoulders and defeatist language that follows a bad month or quarter.

All that is ‘wasted’.

It’s dragging you down. It’s wearing out your battery. It’s eating away at your self-esteem.

And, just quietly, it’s dragging those around you down too!

Let me make this easy for you. You have chosen a tough career! In this job people will let you down. People will lie to you. People will back out of commitments. People will be rude and ungrateful. ‘Certainties’ will crumble.

There. Now you know.

I don’t expect you to be a recruiting robot. Have a quick cry. Kick the desk. Have a few beers.

But leave it there! Move on.

Don’t waste your emotion on stuff that’s dead and gone.

Save the emotion for the next placement dance!


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About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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26 Responses to Recruiters, this is how you destroy your own career.

  1. As ever Greg, you are spot on. I am notorious – within my own household at least – for this mistake and my co-Director and (more importantly) wife is always reminding me of what a waste of emotion it is. She usually couches it thus: “Mark you have only been recruiting for 12 years now and as a mere male cannot be expected to learn too quickly.”

    • Michelle Jeffers July 9, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

      You hit it on the head, Greg! My most recent dump left me with two days of non production simply because the candidate was a friend and she changed her mind without telling me.

      I learned that day that even when you are helping a friend find a new position, you should never mix work & pleasure. Well,maybe not NEVER, but you get the idea.

      I want to add that those wasted emotions affect our physical wellness as well. We’ve all seen the “Depression Hurts” ads. It’s true. As a person who suffers from autoimmune disease, my emotions affect how my body feels as well. A really bad day can easily turn into a week if I let it.

  2. Navid July 9, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    It can’t get any better than the way you have described it Greg.

    Emotional intelligence is perhaps the most essential part of this job, the ability to not take it personal, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep fighting.

    This very fact about recruitment is what determines the true caliber of people who enter the industry and the reason behind the high-turn over in recruitment.

  3. Kylie - Senior Consultant July 9, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    Particularly in times like these, we lose too many valuable recruiters to the same “battery draining” epic within the industry. I’m guilty of these wasted emotions myself but will not let it continue in my workplace – we all need to recognise and accept the career we have chosen (the good and the bad) and keep plowing through… Besides, the wonderful emotions that follow a placement should last a whole lot longer than the ones that fall through – or is that just me?
    Perhaps I am lucky enough to experience more good times than bad, or perhaps it just falls down to the mindset of the recruiter. Either way – lets turn the frowns upside-down and keep these amazing recruiters in the game a little while longer!

  4. Peter Casey July 9, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    A very timely reminder Greg. I have been a recruiter for over twenty five years and still have that tendency to take the “all too often” bitter disappointments in our vocation too seriously. It is wasted emotion and can not only affect us and our mojo, but those around us. My favourite expression, especially when mentoring junior recruiters is that the world of recruitment is a rewarding but unforgiving career, you will always have the “swings and roundabouts”. Take it on the chin and move on as quickly as possible….tomorrow is another day!

  5. Sharon Vandermeer July 9, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Couldn’t agree more! Loved the Blog. Move on – no negative emotion will rectify the situation but it will go along way in destroying any future placements. staying negative alters every touch point from that moment on! So lament for a short while and then move on as the next placement could be 10 times more rewarding.

  6. Richard July 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

    Nice blog Greg.

    In my experience, those that waste the most time beating themselves up about drop-outs and let downs, are often the ones who cut corners earlier in the candidate engagement process. For example, not meeting a candidate in person as clashing diaries mean it requires an early start or late finish. Or not keeping them regularly updated on the status of their applications. They don’t earn the candidates respect and trust, and make it easier for the candidate to keep important concerns from them.

    If you know you’ve done everything you can to gain an individuals trust and they still let you down, it’s a kick in the stomach and might knock your focus for a short while, but we’ve just got to accept that these people will come along from time to time, and move on as quickly as possible.

  7. Clive July 9, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    Great article Greg, I look forward to your weekly insights and teachings.

  8. Neil Freeman July 9, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    Very true. Placements that fall through or candidates that let me down do not get to me any more as long as I feel I did the best I could. I do struggle with people within the organisation who duck their responsibilities and expect the consultants to deal with the consequences. I sometimes wish I could be a bit more confrontational.

  9. Tony Hookings July 9, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    So true Greg, and for those of us that are working alone rather than big teams remember that just because no one can hear you scream when things go wrong, it still affects you. The biggest lesson I learnt when I started Regenesis was that not having teams to motivate when those things inevitably went wrong for them really made me internalise the stresses. I think because you are so used to pulling up an individual and giving them the “this is what happens in Recruitment” talk, when you don’t have a team you forget to have the talk with yourself!!! The biggest tip I have for anyone that is working alone is read Change your thinking, by Dr Sarah Edelman, it changed everything for me and is seriously a life saver!! Everytime I get to that point (as you do) I pick up the book and start reading and at the end I go “Will this matter to me in 5 years” No, then forget about it!!

    Thanks for all the guidance Geg, invaluable!!

  10. Chris July 10, 2013 at 12:25 am #


    Best advice hands down !! What is that Danny Cahill says the inability to forget is more harmful than remembering or some such saying!!! Keep up the posts . I love them .



  11. Shaun Windram July 10, 2013 at 5:10 am #

    I don’t think it matters whether you’re a recruiter guy or any other type of guy. Wasting emotion on stuff you can’t change or do anything about is flat out crazy.

    …Easier said than done though.

    Nice piece Greg

  12. Kevin Chappell July 10, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    Yeah nah (only Kiwis will know that one….). It’s not human not to react! I would worry if someone didn’t have a rant or be pissed! We’re one of the few professions where we earn our income based on the decisions that others make. So when someone has lied, or mislead, or wasted your time, or done them all, it’s normal to have a rant. The bit you’re right about is the length of the rant, but in my many years, I haven’t come across many recruiters who let it fester for more than a few moments, possibly minutes, maybe an hour??? Maybe in NZ we’re a maturer lot?? So people, especially us guys who are less inclined to share our emotions, permission to rant. Just not for too long. OK with that Greg?

  13. Anna Dawson July 10, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    Hello Greg, great call. I love the way you break down the tech talk to the bare essentials. great stuff!

  14. Nicky Farmer July 10, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    thanks for this! As Owner/ Manager and sole employee of my own Recruitment Consultancy, these kicks in the butt are exactly what I need!

  15. mat mcdonald July 11, 2013 at 5:27 am #

    I’m on the other side of this whole thing. Countless recruiters have called me and offered me the world and never seem to deliver. There’s a fine line between marketing and truth, and emotion can often blur the lines.

    Every interview/lead that’s led to anything of value I discovered and pursued on my own. I know folks that refer to recruiters as “job fairies”, but my experience has taught me they need to hit their number of calls in a day. Many of the calls I’ve gotten are for positions in which I’m not even qualified.

    I’d love to be an astronaut, but a journalism degree isn’t going to get me to moon.

  16. Marie July 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    Great article Greg absolutley resilliance is the key to success in our industry. HOWEVER I have a question for you and your followers has anyone had a consultant go into depression after a successful quarter because in their mind they do not think they did anything differently and are afraid that they cannot repeat this?

  17. brooke July 17, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    Great article Greg !

  18. Megan July 19, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    This is certainly good advice for anyone… in any industry. Let’s not take things personally & move on. =)

  19. Dave Nerz with NPA July 20, 2013 at 6:05 am #

    I have been so upset since you wrote this blog that I am just now writing to tell you about it…not really! Excellent post, as always.

    So many business people find themselves wanting things to be like they were in some bygone day and then emoting all over themselves and anyone willing to listen about how desperate things are now. I would bet these are some of the very same “movers and shakers” that used to tell the complainers of their day to “suck it up!”

    The constant is change. You can control your emotions but not those of others. So control what you can and move on…

  20. James July 24, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    I’ve been sitting here punching myself in the face for the last few weeks after a few shockers only to realise it was my own fault for cutting corners and poor standards of communication.

    Onward and upward with positive emotion!

  21. Ryan Harding August 1, 2013 at 3:38 am #

    Greg! Great post. I could not agree more, and this is something I struggled with at the start of my career. You need to make the highs not as high and the lows not as low. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Jonathan August 14, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

    This article will get me through the day.
    Thanks Greg, we all know theses facts but it never gets old.

  23. Trish Petersen October 14, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    Love a good placement dance!!!

  24. Ray April 23, 2016 at 2:49 pm #

    “You have chosen a tough career!”…..yes, we certainly every minute of it though


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