Jay Wren: The World’s Noblest Headhunter
On the first day that I worked as a corporate recruiter, I sat down at a desk that had a telephone, a stack of 5 X 8 file cards, a legal pad, and a copy of the Directory of Advertisers.
I had no clients. I had no applicants. I had a very short list of contacts from my brief career in sales at Procter & Gamble and Polaroid Corporation.
Another recruiter in the office had claimed Polaroid as a client before I arrived at the firm. Therefore, he had staked out the best potential client I might have.
Over the next 30 years I would recruit for Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Nestle, Clorox, Del Monte, ConAgra, Mobil Consumer Products, Quaker, Tambrands, Unilever, Reckitt-Benckiser, Maybelline, and many other equal and lesser-sized companies.
Even before the arrival of online networks, I had developed a file-card database of 12,000 contacts. Today, with LinkedIn, I have the same 200 million contacts as everyone else.
I transferred my files to computers in the late 1990’s. I tracked 40,000 contacts in my local database.
I first published this website April 15, 2005. I began to publishing a newsletter later that year. My newsletter helped my business immensely. Often people would save a copy of these newsletter as a record of my contact information.
Some recruiters hate the term headhunter.
I find the term amusing. I find it even more amusing to know that some recruiters take offense at the term. But in the recruiting world, I was a headhunter. I actively contacted new candidates before they began to look for a job.
I adopted the title of “The World’s Noblest Headhunter.” The title worked as an icebreaker. It also helped me to develop a brand.
The Exciting and Painful Beginnings of a Wonderful Career
Starting a new business is exciting and yet often painful and full of uncertainty. My start as a recruiter was typically painful. I had beginner’s bad luck before I had beginner’s good luck. Three after I started to work, another recruiter copied contact information from my files and placed one of the candidates. The first candidate I placed accepted the job. Then the candidate quit the first day on the job and returned to his previous company.
It was probably six months before I had a steady stream of business. This was a scary period. However, it was a period that led to over three decades of a highly rewarding career.