How are things going?

How are things going?

Cityscape Recruitment Senior Consultant Alex Wallace takes a dry, humorous approach to explaining the daily activities of a recruiter – but is there a deeper message hidden away in there somewhere?

Alex Wallace writes – In my role as a dynamic, sector specialist recruiter (it sounds posh when you say it like that!) dealing with senior level placements at Blue Chip companies (even posher!), all whilst managing a team of high-flying consultants (wow, I must be important); you would probably imagine my day to day activity would be widely varied.  A day full of complex reports, structured meetings and pre-booked phone calls to negotiate the fees relating to the placement of a £150k salaried director – followed by a little online shopping for a new watch.

You would probably imagine detailed conversations with candidates, piecing together their future dreams and aspirations to match them to a company that will allow them both to grow and develop as a person, whilst paying them the right money to support their spouse, 3 children, 2 cats and dog.

Before I started in this role some years back I would have thought my in-depth sales training and qualifications would come in handy on every phone call. Using a mixture of Neuro Linguistic Programming and charm to walk candidates and clients through the recruitment process. Looking to lead all parties to an end result that can only be described as a Win Win with everyone as happy as a pig in….. mud.

And to be fair, I do actually do all of these things. But, when it comes to the end of a day consisting of 100+ phone calls where the deals aren’t flying in and the sh*t hot candidate or “Purple Squirrel” I’ve been searching for continues to evade my prying eyes, I can find myself feeling like all I do, all day, every day, is ask one very simple question:

How are things going?


Let me give you a few examples of a few typical conversation starters…

Candidate looking for work: How are things going? [in your search]

Client looking for staff: How are things going? [in your search]

Candidate I’ve placed into a new role recently: How are things going? [at your new company] (hopefully well)

Candidate another recruiter (boooooo) has placed into a new role: How are things going? [at your new company] (hopefully badly)

Evil Gate Keeper who I’ve never got on with: How are things going? [at hells gates]

Candidate you’ve found deep in the CRM with no age on his CV, and turns out to be 70+: How are things going? [in your retirement]

Candidate who you have been working with for some time, but cannot get any options for to save your life: Hi, How are things going? [please don’t shout at me!]


So it seems I ask this question a lot. And in fact, I think that tells a lot about what it is we do as recruiters… How are things going? Is not just another question to gain extra minutes on my weekly call time stats but more a sign of willing to help. A question that spawns important answers and allows me to delve further into the minds of the people we are working with:

If things are going badly, how can I help?

If things are going well, how did you get to where you are? What can I learn? How can your current situation be improved?

If you’re enjoying your job, what is it about that company that makes it better than your last?

If you’re looking for staff and the candidates you have seen so far aren’t up to scratch, what can we do to find you the employee with that will fit like a glove?


The recruitment industry as a whole gets very bad press. It comes with a pre-conception of jumped up salesmen trying to claw every last penny they can grab from any and every company to go out and buy another Rolex (I wish!). All whilst boasting no skillset except the ability to really p*ss everyone off!

But in essence (when practised right), we are supporting the process of improving people’s lives. We are the middle man, juggling two parties’ wants and needs to bring people together in a mutually beneficial agreement. Working towards finding the perfect candidate the perfect role. Trying to make (what is often forgotten to be) one of the hardest and most important decisions in life just that little bit easier.

We are finding clients the perfect person that matches the company ethos and personality as well as desired skillset. We are finding people better jobs, on better salaries, working with better people… So that when we ask a candidate we have placed in their dream job How are things going? Their response is: They’ve never been better.