NO, you don’t understand!

A common theme in my office and amongst Recruiters in general is just how busy and stressed we are at all times. We really feel like you couldn’t possibly understand, it’s barely even worth trying to describe. Busy is the new black. It’s cool to be busy all the time – busier than anyone else. And stressed – don’t even get me started. You try working to gain the business of an awesome client, place what you think is an amazing candidate, who decides the night before they are supposed to start that they changed their mind. Don’t even talk to me about stressed – we place people – unpredictable people!

In the ten years I’ve been in the recruiting industry, it’s changed dramatically. When I first entered this world, I would leave work at 5pm and not really think much about work, do work, or hear from clients or candidates until the next morning when I walked back into the office at 8am and fired up my desktop computer. And what happened in the hours I was gone? Not much.

Today, I carry all my work with me in my pocket and activity is always abuzz, literally and figuratively. My phone is always alerting me of things happening. Clients and candidates are calling, texting, e-mailing, sending messages via LinkedIn, sending inquires through our website, tweeting at me, sending me messages on Facebook, and whatever other means of communication being invented nearly daily. Voxer, Snapchat,…the list goes on and on. Candidates are applying through my Bullhorn account, our website, ZipRecruiter, Indeed, Monster…and any other site we may be using at the time. I have all responses sent to my phone. I want to get to the candidates before any of my competitors and if I’m working on a difficult search (most of them), I want to be aware of the candidate volume and quality at all times.

We compare our days in an effort to prove who is busier or just to let our colleagues know just how busy and overwhelmed we are at any given moment or maybe just for sympathy… 

“Wanna grab a bite to eat?”

“I wish I could, but I have to source. I had a 7:30am coffee with a potential client that went longer than expected, after I was on LinkedIn all night last night trying to find candidates for xyz company that is really coming down on me and I’m heading to an HR networking event tonight from 6pm – 9pm. I’m exhausted. I forget what my kids look like.”

“So, no?” 

“I can’t talk right now.”

I had a suspicion that this couldn’t possibly be just Recruiters who feel busy, overwhelmed, and spread too thin – so in June I posted a Facebook status to take a poll and gain perspective on how others feel. To understand just how busy I am, this should illustrate my point perfectly: I took this poll in June to write this blog piece and it’s now February. I’m busy people – so busy you just don’t understand!

Facebook Status: An honest question for a potential blog piece – Do you feel that your job is really stressful? Like, if people only knew, they wouldn’t imagine how stressful it is? Flip side – Do you have a fairly stress-free job? On either side, tell me what the job is that you do, please? Also – what is stressful or stress free about it. Feel free to inbox me if you don’t want to share it here. Thanks.

I received a fairly large response and with little exception the theme was – “Yes, so stressful. I can’t even tell you how stressful my job is.” I received this from the owner of a PR firm, a restaurant owner, a few other Recruiters (internal and external), Nurses, several Teachers (a few with special needs students), a Property Manager, an Office Manager, a Sales Executive, etc. In other words, a fairly wide range of people at all ages and in varying occupations – so I felt it was a pretty good sampling. Lots of folks sent me private messages complaining about the demand on their time and how stressful days are for them. It sparked an interesting conversation, that’s for sure.

We’ve come to the disappointing part of this blog – I have no answers and I don’t see it getting better – but I do know I’m not alone. As the owner of a small business in a competitive field in a growing city – slowing down doesn’t seem to be an option. But here’s the rub, I also have twin boys – I blinked and they are now 2 1/Ž2. I’m also married to someone who longs for a little more of my undivided attention. I also have nieces and nephews who live between 1 1Ž/2 to 5 hours away and they are changing and growing and I’m missing a lot of it. I have parents who are not getting younger, a grandparent that is slipping further into dementia every day, and oh yeah – ME. I like to ski and play tennis and racquetball and see live music…I’d like to do yoga regularly and write more on my personal blog. But I’m time poor…

This is a pie in the sky expectation – but maybe if we all stopped looking for instant gratification, we could help one another and give each other a much-deserved break. My wife said to me the other day, “Thank God for Amazon same day delivery, I ordered that book that boys have been fighting over, now they each have a copy.” UGH! This is amazing and terrible, right? What happened to learning how to share and take turns and not having the world at your fingertips…I’m going down a different path, but it’s an example of how we have become a society of “I want it now and I’m getting it now.” And business is the same – when I e-mail my Realtor or Lawyer or whomever and the response time has exceeded an hour – I’m frustrated. Shame on me – how do I know what they have going on and why would I assume my request should be their immediate top priority? Let’s just give it a rest. Let’s assume the world doesn’t revolve around us and let’s assume that everyone is really doing the best they can at any given time. I’m going to give you a break – that’s the only thing I can control, but secretly I’m hoping you give me a break, too!  



Mikal Harden