Some Honest Advice on Mental Health in the Recruitment Industry
This is the kind of post you ummm and arrr about before posting - you write the finished product, to quickly delete it. This year, If you do anything at all on mental health awareness day, turn to the person next to you; whether that be your counterpart, your colleague, your work wife... and just ask how they are REALLY doing.
I can't speak for the thousands of industries out there, but I can tell you what it is like to work in the world of recruitment with depression. It's awful. Recruitment is a fantastic platform for young professionals, graduates and top sales people to develop their skills, understand how business' are run, grow as an individual and really boost commercial acumen. However, it is not without its downfalls. High pressured sales environments, KPI targets, monthly, quarterly, yearly numbers, highs of placements, lows of pipeline - There can't be many more industries in life that follow such a roller coaster path from day to day.
Then you have the releases - beers on a Monday because it's been ‘one of those days’ then before you know it you’ve introduced ‘tequila Tuesday’, ‘wine Wednesday’ and ‘thirsty Thursday’, it doesn’t stop! People talk in the media about how Instagram influencer's suffer as they are having to fabricate a life that isn't true, well, I can personally guarantee if you are to strip away the Instagram photos, the awards, the champagne and the black tie events - You will see people struggling in your offices - Something has to change.
I have suffered from depression and I have seen what depression does to people, I have seen it strip away the ability to talk to clients and candidates confidently, I have been unable to focus on simple tasks for hours because my mind is racing, I have even seen the best of the best consultants slowly turn in to a shadow of their former selves. The further and further you slip away from your targets, the more you put on a facade to cover how you really feel. Regularly you will hear "it's just a bad quarter" or "I just can't be bothered this month" – Managers, If you hear this, please do not let it go!
Stress and Anxiety are also huge problems in the recruitment industry. Despite some of the misconceptions that are held about the industry, people genuinely get in to recruitment to help people find jobs. Jobs that could well be the biggest decision of a candidates life; and yet a recruiters role in a career journey is sometimes overlooked or belittled. This can have a long term impact on a recruiters mental health, without sufficient awareness surrounding this they become the ‘weird’ people in the office, left alone to fight through their own anxiety until the pressure becomes too much they either conform or they leave.
I don't know all the facts - And I'm certainly not the best person to advise on how things should be done, But I can tell you one thing. If you are suffering, be it silently or very, very openly,do something about it! Speak to your manager, speak to your colleagues, just speak to someone! They may have gone through the same thing, there will be posters all over your workplace about people you can call.
Take it from me, bottling up your emotions does not make you a ‘big man’ so make sure you are taking steps to look after your mental health!
I found boxing was a huge help for me, Punching a bag until all the anger had melted away. Taking the occasional bump on the nose felt good - It made me feel human and when you're suffering from mental health issues, human is a great feeling. Find something that makes you happy. I know someone who was the biggest, scariest, burly man I had ever seen go through depression and find happiness in pottery of all things, it doesn’t matter what works for you, as long as it helps.
If this post makes one person somewhere pick up the phone, grab someone at lunch or even make someone second guess their "banter" then it will have done its job and my story would have helped.