Training for client-facing businesses means leaving your ego at the doorBusiness Standard / Apr 07, 2012,
A new job as a recruitment consultant should sound easy enough. Supplying candidates to high-profile clients and negotiating the (often astronomical) offers made is all part of the territory. One must keep their wits about them and ensure that the deal goes smoothly. All this was drilled into my head from the moment I occupied my seat at the glitzy office of my firm in a Mumbai suburban business district.
The first three weeks will pass in training. There will be extensive sessions on talking to candidates, how to understand their career progression, the need for a new job, the whys and hows of it. But recruiting is a client-driven business. At the end of the day, one has to ensure that the client is satisfied with who we have provided. They are the ones who shell out the bucks. So, from gentle handholding to some nifty floor management, a recruiter must learn the ropes fast.
Only leave your ego at the door. During my first session, I was guided on basic etiquette and poise, the details of which will make any self-respecting fella squirm. “Wear deodorant at all times,” advised my boss. “I don’t want to have a repeat of this one time when a lady’s, well, smell stank the entire office. Makes a very bad impression.” I had half a mind to lift my underarms for a quick check. Sensing my alarm, the boss quipped: “Don’t worry. Nothing personal. Part of the rulebook.”
Ok. Did make me feel wet behind the ears, though. The trouble with starting a job that involves interacting with clients is that you are bombarded with so many rules that any natural savoir faire that you might possess goes out the window by the end of Day 1. Before I started I was perfectly confident of my skills at dealing with senior managers looking to switch fabulous jobs, but now I am watching everything I say for fear of saying anything that gets the boss hot under the collar.
Thank God for the team! There is one girl who joined a month before I did and thanks to her help, I am able to navigate my way through the highly process-driven culture of this organisation. Everything that we do must go on record on a rather antiquated software since we work across divisions and clients and, therefore, anyone, anywhere in this global organisation must be able to access the latest update on a deal.
My patriotism seems to shine through at the most inappropriate places. My boss, an expat, was complaining about how it is highly unprofessional of even well-respected firms to have receptionists who didn’t think anything of chatting in Hindi/Marathi. “You need to look beyond yourself, you Indians. The world does not revolve around you.”
I don’t think chatting in Hindi has anything to do with the world twirling around our little fingers. Linguistic openness is something expats need to cultivate if they are staying in another country and not make all-encompassing remarks about a nation and its culture. “It’s because most people who speak English also understand local languages,” I answered. Not one to let his argument dissipate, my boss countered: “That’s wrong, eh! If you are working to be a business centre, you need to adapt.” Yessir!
Overall, it’s been a mild first week. I have been settling in, both in office and at home. Mumbai is nice. I am still trying to figure it out actually, and find myself groping for suitable adjectives. I love the place, no doubt about that. I love to be on the streets, with the crowds. The place I am staying at, a studio apartment not far from office, is comfy and cozy. The area around the house is alive at all times, buzzing with restaurants, fruit sellers, grocery shops, and the familiar comforting din of autorickshaws late into the night.
But still, Delhi is Delhi. Maybe it’s JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University). Maybe it’s the journalists. But Mumbai does not have the intellectual glitter of Delhi. It is very resourceful. You get everything in five minutes. But Mumbai is also a very tapori city somewhere.
Not that I am complaining. I like to lord it over thinking I am some sort of dashing litterateur in this city of the philistine. Walking back from Bandra station the other day, I came across a garage sale of some excellent books. Bought Rushdie’s collective non-fiction over a decade for, hold your breath, 200 bucks. And in hardcover.
Ah, the glee of schadenfreude!