Recruiter: The Way of the Warrior

Disclaimer: This article is not super-serious. It’s all in good fun. 🙂

I have always had very keen interest in Japan; its culture, language and history. Not only because Samurais (Japanese warriors) were one of the first headhunters. Well, Samurais use this word literally, things were different in those times, but their code of conduct can still be applied anywhere and everywhere.

One of the most interesting parts of their history is Bushidō (武士道), literally meaning “the way of the warrior”, it is a Japanese word for the way of the Samurai life, loosely analogous to the concept of chivalry. The “way” itself originates from Samurai moral values.

What could today’s recruiters learn from the Japanese “headhunters” of the past?

The Bushidō code is typified by seven virtues, but some sources add one more:

  • Righteousness (義 gi)
  • Courage (勇 yū)
  • Benevolence (仁 jin)
  • Respect (礼 rei)
  • Sincerity (誠 makoto)
  • Honor (名誉 meiyo)
  • Loyalty (忠義 chūgi)
  • Self-Control (自制 jisei)

Righteousness (義 gi)

Sometimes called justice, this is the strongest virtue of Bushidō; it is all about making sure that we have the right frame of mind when we make a decision. It is about making sure that we don’t become indecisive and that our decisions are based on sound reasoning. If we make a mistake we inform the candidate, hiring manager or client. We are never dishonest with them; we always need to be honest in our dealings with other people (candidates, managers etc.)

Courage (勇 yū)

Agency recruiters need to have courage when calling potentially new clients and they should have the courage to say NO when the client is incorrect and is demanding something that is inappropriate.

All recruiters need to have courage in order to complete many aspects of their work, they need to be brave enough to pick up the phone and call the candidate with the possible job offer, and to stop hiding behind technology. The right dose of courage is necessary when recruiters are giving feedback to candidates. Nobody wants to hear bad feedback and no recruiter likes to give bad feedback to candidates, but this is part of our job.

Benevolence (仁 jin)

The Dalai Lama said “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” This sentence should be applicable to recruitment. For many recruiters, their work is all about doing good and helping people.

If you are working for an agency or as a freelancer and you are good at your job, the money (reward for placement) is usually pretty good, but for most recruiters it’s not about money, but helping others. Many of us try to fix resumes for our friends, friends of their friends, and even for people who contact us through LinkedIn. Sometimes we are not able to help, because we don’t have enough time or we don’t know the answer to the question, but many of us love networking, so often we know somebody who may know the answer or who will be able to help. Networking and connecting people is our job.

Respect (礼 rei)

You respect your clients, colleagues and especially candidates. When a candidate is telling you their career/life story during the interview you always listen and you are present during the interview. You also respect your competitors, because they are a great source of inspiration for doing your job better.

Sincerity (誠 makoto)

Sincerity is the virtue of one who speaks and acts truly on his or her own beliefs, which makes everything you do as a recruiter beneficial to your hiring manager, candidates and clients. You are sincere to yourself about your skills and actions; sometimes is difficult to be completely so with candidates, but you try your best to be honest with them too.

Honor (名誉 meiyo)

As a recruiter you are proud of what you do in your job, and proud of your achievements. You build your reputation through every interview and every call with candidates, and through your online and offline actions. Additionally, you always try to present the right candidate to the hiring manager; you don’t hide any information from them or from candidates. If you are an agency recruiter or freelancer your clients know that they can always trust you, because you have a reputation as a good recruiter and good person, and because you have the integrity to do your job properly.

Loyalty (忠義 chūgi)

As a recruiter you fight for your company, you helped to the build the team and you feel a strong devotion to them. This feeling of strong support for your team surfaces every time you receive a job offer to work for some other company. If you are working for an agency you are loyal to your agency (team) and your customers, you are fighting for them on the labor market to help them grow and secure the best people.

Dwight Schrute, The Office: “Would I ever leave this company? Look, I’m all about loyalty. In fact, I feel like part of what I’m being paid for here is my loyalty. But if there were somewhere else that valued loyalty more highly… I’m going wherever they value loyalty the most.”

Self-Control (自制 jisei)

The most important virtue of them all. It’s the essential virtue that every recruiter should have. With the use of this virtue, the recruiter can reply to unpleasant candidates who have just sent a fourth e-mail in the same day asking about the status of the hiring manager. It also helps to keep recruiters out of prison when the hiring manager is telling them that the candidate that they just met is perfect, but they still want to see one more for comparison; or when the hiring manager is asking recruiters what they are doing during the hiring freeze. As you can see, it’s essential for every recruiter to have this virtue. 😉

Recruiter in 2016

You don’t have to live in Japan and follow Bushidō, because as recruiters we already have all these seven/eight virtues; even if your colleagues don’t really know what you are doing and you are an invisible recruiter for them, you still have the perfect combination of Samurai and invisibility and this will make you a recruiter ninja. And if you are not an invisible recruiter for your colleagues because they recognize your work, you are still a Samurai recruiter and that’s pretty cool too! 🙂