Forget the Top Dogs, Talk to the Humans

So, that was Lockdown. The drift back to ‘normal’ has begun. Offices are re-opening, up and down the country, and shops and entertainment, too.

We’ve emerged from a year spent in our homes, blinking in the sunlight. For some of us, the price paid has been high. Something holds true for each and every one of us, though. Nothing is going to be the same again.

Life, as we know it, has changed forever and, for those of us in recruitment, this change has meant many positive things (remote working, faster selection processes, video interviews, etc.)

I think another change has happened that has made the world of the recruiter a better place to be in.

I’d like to invite you all to jump in the ‘Way Back Machine’ and to set the dial to April 2020.

We’re at home messaging, mailing and calling – many of us with an increased sense of urgency. The bottom has fallen out of many markets. Companies have frozen hiring, processes are being cancelled, there’s an existential crisis sitting slap bang in the middle of almost everyone’s lives. Death tolls are rising, emergency hospitals are being built and, to be honest, many of us are really scared. Remember?

During this time, I noticed something. It was something in the babies crying in the background of telephone calls, the dogs interrupting Zoom calls, the pile of clothes in the background of yet another Teams call. It was the fact that, due to the peculiarities of most of us ‘working from home’ – we began to see into each other’s homes and, in fact, into each other’s lives. I sit here typing from my spare room – the room I worked in throughout Lockdown – which is used when my grandkids come to stay. Behind me, on every call, are a row of teddies, dolls and cuddly rabbits.

On the ‘sales’ side of the recruitment game, organisations are mapped out hierarchically. ‘Influencers’ and ‘Decision-Makers’ are identified and targeted; powerful people with powerful job titles – chief, head, director, principal. People to be respected, admired, coveted – the people with the power.

In the blink of an eye, in the flick of a switch, sometime around April 2020 I stopped talking to chiefs, heads of, directors and principals.

I started talking to humans.

Humans like me. People who were scared. Scared for themselves and scared for their loved ones. I heard their loved ones in the background of our calls. I saw kids running around rooms, sometimes crying, partners wandering by obliviously, pets jumping on tables, and more and more of the human side of who they were.

I heard from humans who had lost those they loved. I told my own story, in turn, as one of those people myself.

So, as we begin the process of heading ‘back’ to wherever we were before, I think we’re heading to a better place.

We can’t forget what we have all seen. We can’t unlearn. The genie is out of the bottle, and I’m OK with that. Maybe it took a global pandemic to remind us. And maybe it took the loss of so many of our loved ones to enforce the point, that no matter where we sit in any company or organisational hierarchy, we’re all just grown-up scared children.

We’re all Human First. 

This article originally appeared in You can read it here.

Author Bio


As Director of Client Services for MBN Solutions, Rob has spent over two decades at the sharp end of Talent Acquisition practice for the Data sector. During this time, he has partnered with some of the UK’s leading data-driven businesses to deliver best-in-class talent solutions. In addition, working in an advisory capacity, Rob designed, built, and delivered the Data Lab’s MSc Placement Programme, has contributed to forums including Scotland’s AI Strategy and DMA Council and sits on University of Glasgow’s School of Maths & Stats Industrial Advisory Board. A regular data industry blogger and event host, Rob also now hosts a data leadership focussed podcast called Boss’n’Data and has been recognised by Data IQ as one of their 100 most influential Data and Analytics practitioners in UK organisations for two years running