What recruitment can learn from The Wolf of Wall Street

what can recruiters learn from the wolf of wall street

Drilling home the importance of the sale and flaunting the luxuries afforded by success, Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is bound to have revved up recruiters in the audience and had them itching to make a placement – but is the ‘wolf’ really a figure that you should aspire to be?

Here’s what you can learn from the Wolf of Wall Street.

Don’t dehumanise like the wolf

Jordan Belfort, the stockbroker turned motivational speaker played by Leonardo Dicaprio in the film, is the titular wolf whose charm and charisma creates an allure to all up-and-coming brokers. Promoting an aggressive form of sales that sees the client as an enemy, and calling for his team to be ‘ferocious’, he tells them there is no nobility in poverty and to simply “pick up the phone and start dialling!” Met with rapturous applause and outright war-cries it’s easy to see how this message could pass onto the audience.

But the film sparked a lot of controversy with its glamorisation of the ruthless salesman – chasing money with complete disregard for the people harmed in the process. The primary concern of critics was the film doesn’t actually show any victims of the wolf. Belfort essentially charms and deceives disembodied voices: at one point a crowd of idolising stockbrokers gather round him as he reads from a telesales script, miming his abuse of the client and silently swearing at him as he talks over the loudspeaker.

It’s this dehumanisation that is near impossible in recruitment. Or at least it should be if you’re doing it right!

Recruitment is a people industry that requires you to marry the needs of the client and candidate. After identifying what a client is looking for and what a candidate is capable of, you’re not fooling anyone by placing someone in a role they’re under-qualified or undervalued in. In proving unreliable you may damage your bond with both the client and the candidate, which will undoubtedly affect your professional relationship and make them less likely to use you in future.

Care about your clients

Belfort and the other salesman who aspire to be him do not see the people they are conning and so they lack empathy. It is this defining human attribute that seems to evade the wolf.

In recruitment you should be getting to know your candidates. They do not want to feel used and instead they want to trust that you have their best interest at heart – that you will consider their abilities and preferences and try to get the most for them, not just a high salary but a position where they can be content.

Don’t have the wolf’s business ethic

The business ethic that Belfort pushes in the film is based on quick and frequent sales, only caring about the customers interests as a means to tempt them out of pocket. Once a sale is made the deal is done.

Again, this is not the case for recruitment. Quick placements can be damaging to everyone involved. Time, resources and the promise of commission will fly out the door, along with the candidate if they aren’t suited to the role or workplace. Quick placements might seem the most efficient in the immediate short-term but they can cost you more than the job in hand and affect potential/future work.

So what can you learn from the wolf?

Despite the apparent negative elements of the wolf there are some attributes that can in fact be harnessed by a recruiter.

Being relentlessly persistent is a useful tool in recruitment as you will often have to deal with rejection and have to continue on to find the right candidate for a position.

The sheer amount of self-believe and drive which Belfort instils in his team is shown to have effective results – this is inevitable if you stay focussed and keep pushing towards what you want to achieve.

What else can you learn from The Wolf of Wall Street? Let us know your suggestions in the comments box below!

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