Darren is never on his own. He’s always surrounded by a group of people, and he’s always laughing. Possibly one of the most jovial people currently in this castle, with heaps of optimism about every little thing, I can’t imagine anything bringing him down. So I sat with him in the afternoon heat for a good injection of his positivity.
Is this the first year you’ve been involved in Top Recruiter?
Yeah my first go. I think all the Europeans are total newbies to this.
How are you finding it?
I love it. I absolutely love it. It won’t come across as a surprise that I’m not a movie star or anything.
Haha yeah. This is not normal to me. And anything new I think is good. But what is really making it is the group we have here. Chris has assembled an unbelievable group of people.
Chemistry is pretty amazing so far.
Whether it’s North America or Europe, there’s not one single person here I don’t want to get stuck chatting to.
So you’re having fun then?
Yeah and I’m learning stuff. Literally this morning at breakfast I was learning new ideas.
But everyone has been amazing. I remember when I got here I was a bit hungover because me and Tom Glanfield and a few others had gotten here a day early, and obviously you can imagine what happened. And you know when you’re hanging and you have to make an effort with people and you kind of groan on the inside, well it didn’t feel like effort. Ever.
And I remember when I got here, Jer said that Top Recruiter is a bit of a family, and when anyone says things like that I just think it’s cheesy crap. But it’s actually true.
There is a real big family feel here.
Within a couple of days of this you’re looking out for people, you’re talking about business and you’re sharing some of your best business ideas with people you’ve only known ten minutes really. And as an industry, we need that. The best thing we can do as an industry is work together more, because it’s the one thing we don’t do enough of.
So who have you met that you’ve really got on with?
Apart from everyone?
I tell you what, the guy that you look at and immediately have respect for is Jack Felice. He looks like the godfather and it’s like he invented recruitment. I was sitting with him at breakfast and he was telling me how he’s done it for 48 years and you can tell he still loves it. And I’m looking at him and thinking, wow, this guys is setting the standard for us. That man speaks, and I’m on his every word. I’ve got a lot of time for him.
When you go to the states would you call him and the other American guys up?
A million percent. When you travel a lot the way I do, and I don’t want to sound like a sob story, but it gets lonely. Sometimes you just want a mate, which is exactly what I’ve found in these guys.
Anyone catch your eye from the European side?
Well you know Keith Potts is just class. If that guy says something I listen. He could tell me the grass was blue and I would believe him.
What will you take home from this experience?
So much. Some of the guys here use customer feedback as an incentive against bonus. I’ve never thought of doing that. It’s just a small touch, but I’ll take it back with me.
I was talking about data with Bruce Trewhella and what we can be doing with our CRM systems. Randy Moore’s idea with Pocket Recruiter is phenomenal. There’s just so much. I could go on.
Which candidates have you been excited about so far?
Stefanie is class. The problem with Stefanie though is she’s the only person who doesn’t see how good she is. Everyone she meets will want to help her and engage with her.
What made you do it?
My curiosity was peaked. And I think I’m perhaps one of the more controversial people in our industry. I speak at a lot of events, I swear a lot, I get passionate, and maybe that all pushed me forward.
And I believe in this concept of yes. Say yes unless you can’t say yes, and I could so I did.
What does The Movement mean to you?
I think it means the betterment of the recruitment industry. So we can make sure we leave the industry in a better state than we found it.
One of my favourite books is a book called Legacy, and it’s about how the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team are structured. And one of the main things in there is leave the jersey in a better position than when you found it. So each player has a responsibility to be better than their forefathers, and that’s how it is for me.
Why do you love recruitment so much?
I think it’s a great leveller. If you’re prepared to work hard, and you’re prepared to learn, it gives you a chance. It’s one of the few industries where you are in control of what you do and it rewards you accordingly.
But on a macro level, we help people get jobs. Every single month my business is probably placing 250 people into jobs. So that’s 250 families who are getting more money than they did. Or are going on holiday. Or the dad or the mum is happier because their careers are developing faster. That’s 250 people you’re positively impacting. In turn we impact the economy. We’re one of the bloody fastest growing industries. It’s a 400 billion industry. So I’ve got 400 billion reasons why I love it.
What’s been your favourite moment on set so far?
I tell you what, it was when Torin Ellis came out and introduced the show, I loved that. And he’s a top guy.
He’s pretty amazing.
Yeah I was talking to him and Rachel about diversity issues and they’re all stuff that I’m passionate about. I don’t want my kids to grow up with all the bullshit we’ve had to do.
Yeah a lot of the leaders here have been telling me the things they’re doing with diversity in their businesses.
And you have to. We have a great relationship with the head of diversity at one of the top banks in America, and they use is because we can provide diverse candidates. It just makes good business sense.
And if you think about it. To be a man in business, and be good, he might have to be an eight out of ten. But for a woman to get the equivalent job, you have to be a ten out of ten. Like look, we’ve just got a female prime minister, and all the papers can talk about are her shoes.
Are you going to do it next year?
I’d be bang up for doing it. As soon as I got to the castle I said to Chris he had me already.
How do you think the UK recruitment market will take the show?
Well I think a lot of people knew about it already, but I think they’ll like it. It will always polarise people, because anything does. But you’ll get recruiters who want to do it etc.
We walk back into the castle still talking about how much Darren loves recruitment, and it feels wonderfully refreshing to find someone in our industry who’s so excited about the work that we’re doing. You don’t find that raw passion every day, and it’s completely and utterly infectious. By the time we’re back on set I’m stark, raving mad for recruitment.