Recruiters and the Way of the Samurai – Bushido

March 07 2 Comments Category: Opinion

Expert AdviceBushidō (武士道), roughly translated as “the way of the warrior,” is a Japanese code of conduct and way of samurai life. At the beginning of the ancient book Hagakure it is asked: If someone were to ask, “What is the true meaning of ‘The Way of the Samurai’?” the person who would be able to answer promptly is rare. This is because it has not been established in one’s mind before hand. From this, one’s unmindfulness of ‘The Way’ can be known. Negligence is an extreme thing. As I read the book I thought, what if we were to replace the word Samurai with Recruiter? What would we say is ‘The Way of the Recruiter’?

The Bushido code is typified by seven virtues. I have had some fun and put a recruitment consultant perspective on how a samurai recruiter may live by the code:

Recitude (義 gi)

Rightness of principle or practice; Uprightness of mind; Honesty; Integrity. Right off the bat with some serious morals! Can a recruiter work that way? Most definitely! There is a stringent set of guidelines we must utilise when managing the process. Rightness of principle or practice is Job Control 101 isn’t it? If you don’t know inside and out how to keep the process on a tight rein then things are going to go disastrous. Honesty and integrity? Surely the cornerstones of consulting with candidates and clients alike. The hard part? Telling them when they are making mistakes. That’s when it becomes a challenge. Forget the outright dishonest recruiters – There is still the opportunity to break this rule in those of us who think we are of high honesty and integrity.

Courage (勇 yuu)

The quality of a confident character not to be afraid or intimidated easily. Certainly can take a good dose of courage before entering negotiations. I often see consultants buckle under the weight of “breaking a deal” with a client and agreeing too easily to a discount. What about the chicken calls?? Those people you’d rather not phone as they aren’t as nice as others? Sometimes I have found they become the best customers.

Benevolence (仁 jin)

Disposition to do good. Hey, surely we all score highly here don’t we? Isn’t recruitment all about doing good? Yeah right, that soon gets knocked out of you doesn’t it? Speak to enough unemployed people and you become jaded right? Heard it all before? Another victim of the recession and before you know it you’re displaying the benevolence of the Sherriff of Nottingham rather than Robin Hood. Take a moment to display some empathy for some of the candidates you speak to. How would you wish to be treated? Make sure you follow through with what you promise. Want to know what one of the greatest acts of benevolence in recruitment is? “Sorry, I cannot help you. Here is the number of someone that can, feel free to call me in the future if you….” Most people are used to hearing “send me your CV” and know it means no and the recruiter does not have the benevolence to tell them that.

Respect (礼 rei)

An attitude of consideration or high regard. Respect your clients – tick. Respect your candidates – tick. All of them? – Ahem, small tick. Your colleagues – tick. Competitors – tick? If you don’t you may well find they creep up behind you and catch you out. Don’t take for granted the fact that you are better than them (are you? How do you know?) Make sure you know enough about them to be able to win consistently.

Honesty (誠 makoto or shin)

To be truthful. OK – we kind of covered off some of this in benevolence. Honesty with your self is sometimes the hardest. Take a cold hard look at what you are doing – When was the last time you actually took the time to honestly appraise your skills? Let’s not wait until the wheels fall off to fix it! Get yourself on a training course or two and sharpen the old katana. Take a look at your activity too, your endeavours to find the best candidates, your call volumes and quality. Are you working to the best of your ability? Be honest now…

Honour (誉 yo)

Dignity; reputation as a good person. Ever met someone at a networking event and said “I just work in recruitment?” Where’s your honour? Be proud of what you do! Not the industry but what you personally actually do. There are those among us who change people’s lives every day. Some of us even change their lives for the good! When was the last time you showed a client a candidate testimonial or letter of thanks? Working well with your candidates is the gateway to enlightenment consistent success. Build yourself an excellent reputation with your candidates and the word will spread.

Loyalty (忠 chuu)

Unswerving in allegiance. How important do you think this is? How many recruitment consultants have you known work for half a dozen firms in as many years? It takes time to establish yourself. Put down some roots and build a personal brand (yuk! I can’t believe I used that phrase) with your customer base working for one organisation. Move on when you feel ready though make sure you do it for the right reasons! The number of recruiters I have interviewed who were failing elsewhere and were certain it was the company and not them!

Did you like this article? If so take a look at these:

The 7 Deadly Sins of Recruiters

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The Death of the External Recruiter??


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  1. This is a great post – Very relevant and clever! I can clearly say I AM SAMURAI and with teh detail of this post, I can back it up too

    Cathy Richardson 8 March 2010 at 12:03 pm Permalink
  2. Glad to hear you keep the Samurai faith Cathy! glad you liked the article too :)

    RecruitmentDad 14 March 2010 at 8:02 pm Permalink

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