Head Hunters

The London Paper  –  18 Feb 2008

There’s a new sheriff in town and he’s just entered the never-ending battle between traffic wardens, estate agents and Manchester United supporters to see who (in my world at least) are the most despicable human beings on the face of this sorry planet. I’ve never been a big fan of head hunters but when they start calling me on my mobile in the evening, as occurred last week, to try and persuade me to move bank I feel like agreeing to see them but only on condition that the meeting takes place at a pub in Brixton and he comes dressed in a Ku Klux Clan outfit complete with burning cross. That might make him think twice and if it doesn’t it would be a lot of fun watching the reception he receives.

Pleasant, rational people may point out that City head hunters, or ‘recruitment consultants’ as they like to call themselves, are merely fulfilling a necessary function e.g. filling job vacancies at investment banks with suitable candidates. And, of course, such people have essentially got a point. However, it’s the way these clowns go about their job that I find a tad galling.

Just like football agents, head hunters have a massive self-interest in making as many people move jobs as often as possible because each time it happens they make cash. Hence, they try everything in their power to get the merry-go-round that is the City job market spin around as fast as possible. If they manage to persuade some poor sucker like me to go off to ‘a very promising opportunity’ (which is how they always describe any potential move) then my bank has a new vacancy and that necessitates another critter to be persuaded to replace me. Hence, they tell any number of fibs about how great the potential new employer is and how rubbish your bank is. If I had twenty grand for every time one of these jokers told me that my bank was falling apart I’d be almost as rich as I actually am.

It’s not only the endless lies that nark me off it’s the amount of wedge these characters make for doing diddly squat that gets my goat. You might think that an estate agent getting 2% of the value of the property you’re selling is a bit of a rip-off but head hunters can get around a third of a successfully placed candidate’s first year package (e.g. salary and bonus). When it comes to the disgustingly massive pay packets that we Cityboys enjoy that can be several hundred grand for essentially getting two people to talk on the phone a few times. Nice work if you can get it!

Around this time of year, just after bonus time, I get loads of calls from these characters and I’m sad to report that none have so far agreed to my admittedly controversial conditions for a meeting. Frankly, head hunters are parasites living in the bloated stomach of capitalism. When the revolution comes they will be the first up against the wall.

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