My wife, Senda, is an amazing woman. Hey, she’d have to be to put up with my nonsense. Today though, she said something to me that showed that not only had she been married to me for a long time, not only does she know me so well, but she is the wife of a head hunter. That she understands what I do for a living.
When I first started this job, way back in 1998, business was hot. I was a 20 something kid, making money hand over fist while learning the job at the same time. It was a good time to be in information technology recruiting. If you had a heart beat, took a course on COBOL in 1979 in Leningrad, Beijing or the CHUBB institute and had once worked for longer than 3 months in Financial Services, there was an opportunity for you. On top of that, there was commission in it for me.
Business was so hot that I was making calls after 7:30pm from home. Senda was not pleased… “Jeff, you are at your desk at 7:30am. You don’t get home until 7pm. Then, you eat dinner, flirt with me for 10 minutes, and get back on the phone! I need more of your time!”
I replied very simply. “Sen. If I told you that a 30 minute call was a 50/50 shot of making $6000 would you do it?” I think everyone of us head hunters understands that, and she got it, too.
Flash forward 15 years. I just tried a job for 6 months recruiting a different line of business. It was all virtual which I loved, in theory. I am a 1960s hippie at heart. I hate dress pants (Heck, like Homer Simpson, I plain hate all pants!) I hate office politics. I hate time vampires that every office has. Plus, I have been known to be a Time Vampire and I didn’t want to suck anyone else down with me. After 6 months of it, I loved my firm and the people I worked with but the money wasn’t there. In addition, the LOB had a much slower turn-around time than I was used to, and I missed the excitement of IT. Senda and I sat down and talked about it. I did what I always tell my candidates to do. Make a T-Square, write down everything, from money to quality of life and compare. Then make a decision. Suffice to say, I called my contacts and I am now back in an office, having fun, and just scheduled my first interview after only 6 business days here. So, I have to wear dress slacks… It happens.
Cut to this Morning. NYC is rainy and humid at the same time, as NY weather gets sometimes. I have a chance to land a major account today… and that means putting on a suit. The only thing I hate more than wearing pants is going whole hog, and putting on the suit and tie. Not only is it uncomfortable, it isn’t me. I never feel quite right. I began whining to Senda. “Boo-hoo-hoo, I hate wearing a suit. I hate this aspect of the business”
Senda grabs my shoulders, looks me in the eye, and pretty much repeats back to me what I said to her 15 years ago about night calls… Even better, she hits my Hot Buttons! “Jeff,” She says, “If one day of wearing a suit puts more money in Max’s (our 3 year old) College fund and pays for a trip to Harry Potter World, then wear the suit for a 50/50 shot of winning the client. I’d do it”
That is what we do for a living. We often find our job to be feast or famine. Our commission checks vary from month to month. When you get so frustrated you say, “Forget this, I am going to go sell cars!” and then that Friday get a comp check of a 5 digit number. Like Michael Corleone, “Every time you think you’re out, they pull you back in”. This is the business we have chosen. From night calls to slacks at the end of the day, we do what we need to do. Having a friend and partner who understands this makes it all the better.