What do recruiters do during hiring freezes?

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Back in February, I revealed that the most enjoyable days of recruitment arise in bonus season when arrogant bankers come grovelling to us polytechnic parasites like their lives depend on us. Joy.

However the worst time to be in recruitment is during the annual hiring freeze. This is usually reserved for Q4, but this year icicles began appearing in Q3 with the cold winds of sovereign debt blowing harshly about our nethers from July onwards.

In the ideal world, recruitment CEOs would like to send people on unpaid leave every Q4. In the real world, they are obliged to pay people to surf social networks for three months. And yet, some recruiters are intelligent beings who use Q4 productively. Personally, this is what I have been getting up to:

1) Propping up Starbucks

With no reason to cold call candidates, we find our tyrannical KPI obsessed bosses forcing us to meet with clients to talk about their hiring strategies for the following year over "a quick coffee." I am saturated in lattes and doing my bit for the African farmers.

2) Building my own team for Q1 next year

Banking recruitment will pick up again. Trust me, I'm a visionary (and I have insider info). Many recruiters leave their jobs in Q4 because they're unable to cope with the boredom. Those of us left behind spend our time searching for the next generation of university graduates to replace them. Unfortunately graduates come out of university like babies from a womb: crying and fearful. It's almost more difficult to find a thick skinned graduate who can nail down deals than it is to find a geeky accountant with the twinklesome charm of Stephen Fry.

3) Tapping the trusting for information

There's clearly some crossover here with point one, but this activity need not necessarily take place over milk froth.

The trick here is to promise the world (come Q1 when hiring starts again) and to rinse the victim for names and department maps. Overseas candidates unfamiliar with this technique tend to be most forthcoming. We recruiters save this practice for Q4 as the two hours it takes to spell their names also helps kill the time.

Fred Bayr blogs at


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