We're the Sweeney, son, and we haven't had any dinner...
I was young once. I guess that is all relative and I probably am still young. But when I was properly young the world was a different place. It was the seventies and in the UK at least was a place full of doom and gloom, three day weeks, power cuts and space hoppers.
I loved my space hopper.
I didn’t know it then but what little television there was (that’s right kids just the three channels) was clearly an influence on my outlook on life or at least maybe I have grown into it. That the life I saw on the television then doesn’t really exist now or at least not in the same way but that is probably no bad thing.
It will be no surprise to you that one of the programmes that had a huge influence on me was The Sweeney. For those that don’t know the programme (how can that be) it followed the day to day lives of the two policeman in the metropolitan police flying squad. Their job was to target armed robbers who back in the day would rob a bank, a security van, stockings on their faces and sawn-off shot gun in hand.
As TV programmes go it had it all, bad language, hard drinking and a car chase somewhere along the way. What made it real was that the police didn’t always win, they didn’t always get their man and even then they were starting to look ‘old school’ with a hard hitting fist in the face approach to asking questions. It wasn’t sitting well with the community based policing that ‘those upstairs’ were starting to talk about.
It’s 1974 and in the Sweeney, the lead character is DI Jack Regan. He is easily wound up, drinks and smokes heavily but gets the job done no matter what. His superiors see him as a rule breaker, a corner cutter, although if you look closely that was more about perception. Whilst he sailed close to the rule book governance he very rarely went too far. Even in those interesting times Regan knew that he needed hard evidence to make things stick. He is undoubtedly old school and whilst women love him, some adore him, he is rubbish with his personal relationships, putting the job first.
Sadly I see this as me. Or at least some of it.
I don’t smoke.
Where Jack gets even closer to me is in his frustration and how he lets it show. As a DI he leads a team, he has responsibility and yet he isn’t the boss. Not really, having to toe the corporate line, a true ‘marzipan layer’ manager. His team though, well they will follow him anywhere. They have to. He leads from the front, is the first to the fight and the last to leave the bar. Sadly again, I see this as me. Or at least a little bit. I am normally second to last to leave the bar.
Part of my charm (my words no one else) is that I am a little bit old school, only unlike Regan I do move with the times. Or at least I think I so. Although watching the recent remake stating Ray Winstone did make me wonder. Stretching my analogy and looking at it in recruitment terms I know one end of a tweet from the other, I can talk global ATS, candidate experience, branding and lifecycle but maybe like Regan I have spent too much time at the sharp end. Too much time fighting the fight that the needs to be fought. Days filled with data analysis, operational performance and compliance reviews not noticing that the world has moved on a little bit. I’m not left behind, far from it but if I don’t play the game a little more then I will be stuck as a DI talking about the good old days.
Recruitment may well have moved on since 1974, it is technology laden, automated and faceless. Talking to some corporate recruiters about the idea of just picking up the phone to a random candidate looks like an alien concept to many. What will they say, how will they know that the candidate is interested in what they have. The old school recruiter in me wants to do it all for them although the reality is I enjoy leading them more than recruiting myself. But if they lose that art of picking up the phone whilst working with the latest technology then we will all suffer.
Above all recruitment is about people talking to people. For candidates to explore opportunities and recruiters to work out if they are any good. My role is to keep all those wheels turning, keep the conversations going but if I falter, even for a minute, then what? The technology will take over, candidates will be processed and we will have lost something very important.
I’m off for now, going back to the mean streets to find good talent.