Don’t panic! I’m not getting all biblical on you. In fact, it’s the very opposite. The Arks I’m making reference to are all from the very excellent The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe by Douglas Adams. In this masterpiece of science-fiction comic writing an alien civilisation builds three space arks designed to shoot off into space and save their population from an impending apocalypse.

In Ark A they put all the great thinkers. In Ark C they put all the people who do things (engineers, builders etc). And in Ark B they put everyone else; insurance sales, hairdressers, TV producers, telephone sanitisers, management consultants (i.e. service industries).

Unfortunately for those in Ark B it was just a ruse to get rid of the useless third of world’s population. There was no apocalypse, the other two arks never left and poor old Ark B was blasted off first with assurances the others would soon follow and set on course to crash on a distant planet known as Earth and thus unintentionally created what we know as the human race (third behind mice and dolphins in descending order of intelligence according to The Guide).

Ark B has become a comic literary symbol for those professions which seemingly don’t add any benefit to the world around them: non-jobs.

Sometimes during my nearly fifteen years in the recruitment industry I stop and wonder which ark I’m on today? Am I sat on Ark A “thinking” about my industry – the trends, the new technologies, the future etc? Or am I on Ark C getting on with the “doing” – making things happen? Or am I on Ark B polishing my phone heading towards a crash landing?

So, as recruiters how do we ensure that we never get pushed onto the symbolic Ark B; considered by the other two thirds of the world’s population as at best dispensable desk jockeys and at worst downright pests who should be shot off into space?

My answer would be to always and forever demonstrate the impact that we’ve made and the (I hate to use the phrase) value we’ve added. For me that often means reflecting on how you’ve made someone’s day by offering them a job they were really after (especially nice nowadays if that someone has been unemployed for a well). Or working with a client to create a talent map that will support their growth and development.

I’ve know quite a few recruiters in my time who have valued their job based on how much money they have generated in any given year rather than anything more tangible and relationship based. I’ve seen them come and I’ve seen them go. Inevitably they end up burnt out and often upset quite a few clients and candidates along the way. Those guys I could happily push onto to a ready to launch spaceship so long as I get to stay behind and wave them off.

What are your best ideas to get onto Ark A? Let me know in the comments below!

About Robert Wright

Robert Wright is a Man of Kent now living in York with two kids and with another in the oven. He lives in a bombsite and is working the NHS Leadership Academy to support Trusts recruiting at board level. You can find him on Linkedin, Twitter - @robmwright or in the kitchen at parties.

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