Talent Acquisition

How to Get Ahead in Recruitment: Be Like Karl Pilkington

So you work in recruitment and you are keen to get ahead. But would you ever consider looking to TV personality Karl Pilkington for inspiration?

Perhaps not, but be prepared to think differently.

Karl is the comedic presenter of the TV show An Idiot Abroad, where he brings his own unique slant on the destinations he visits. So what insights can he give to those of us striving to excel in the ERP recruitment sector?

He does things he doesn’t want to do:

Pilkington states that he has no interest in travel, and yet he’s forced to by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Marchant, who watch him at home and set him ‘local’ tasks, which have included crossing the desert on a camel and learning the samba.

He has no prior knowledge of these tasks, no interest or desire to do them, and is being filmed constantly. But does he give up. He gives everything a go, being outspoken and funny along the way, but always giving the task at hand a shot. We could all learn from this, even without the TV cameras and bizarre challenges.

When we are set something we don’t want to do, people are watching, and our response says a lot about who we are.

Moan, whinge, gripe and skive off and you give a strong sense of yourself. Moan a little bit, show some humour, and then get on with it and give it your best shot, and you demonstrate that vital ‘can do’ attitude and ability to commit to the job. Also, like Karl, you might find that some of the things you were afraid of doing are actually oddly enjoyable. You’ll also be winning new fans along the way, and demonstrating the right behaviours and attitude to more junior members of staff. At work, this is a great way to get noticed by your seniors, who will mentally earmark you as material for further advancement.

He knows who he is:

One of the reasons that the show is such a hit is that the star has such a recognisable character. He knows who he is and doesn’t try to be someone else. Authenticity is also a vital part of our industry.

Many sales people make the mistake of acting like someone else but clients see through fakery straight away. Don’t waste time trying to mould yourself into someone you’re not – you’ll damage your relationships and never be entirely trusted.

Focus on your strengths and show them off, and work on your weaknesses. Some people refer to this as their ‘personal brand’ and it’s true that you can apply marketing principles to to way you choose to present yourself. For example, if you are a quiet and introverted type don’t worry that you lack the charisma and extrovert nature of some of your colleagues.

Not all clients welcome booming personality types, and you can be an excellent recruiter by being who you are and learning the skills and tricks of the trade, as well as prioritising excellent relationships, a strong delivery focus, and by developing an in-depth knowledge of your sector and function. Ultimately, the client wants a recruiter who gets the job done, who listens to them, and who focuses on quality solutions rather than trying to make a fast buck. Rather than presenting yourself as the star, treat the client as the star. Focus on listening, rather than speaking.

He uses humour in tricky situations:

An obvious one, but a tactic we could all do with employing in sticky situations and trying work moments. Of course, the experienced recruiter knows when to use humour and when to be serious.

Poor timing can backfire if the recruiter feels that they are not being taken seriously, or that the recruiter lacks the necessary gravitas and commitment to the job in hand. It is equally important to use the right type of humour – sexist, ‘blue’, or offensive humour in general is highly risky and likely to cause offence.

Avoid making jokes as the expense of others. It is unprofessional and suggests a mean spirit. This applies when using humour with team mates, the wider office and all stakeholders. Keep your humour gentle and ideally directed towards yourself. The individual who can laugh at him or herself is greatly prized and usually well respected for this ability.

He’s multi-talented:

Pilkington may play the fool on An Idiot Abroad but he is actually a highly experienced and talented radio broadcaster, presenter, author, actor and former radio producer. He can afford to play a certain side of himself for laughs because he is essentially having the last laugh – being paid to travel the world for the BBC and generating a successful media profile and career in the process.

So bear this in mind when you consider your own approach to work. Do you need to boost your credentials with more experience and qualifications? Don’t be afraid to try something new. Speak to a mentor or manager to highlight where you currently have gaps, and identify areas where you can take on new learning opportunities to expand your horizons and challenge yourself.

Author: Satnam Brar is Managing Director of Maximus IT. Maximus is an Oracle Gold Partner which specialises in recruitment in the ERP, CRM & Database sectors, specifically ORACLE, MS Dynamics, and SAP.

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