The Recruiter, The Briefcase and A Powerful Message for Success

Perfectly presented oranges at a Sydney fruit store

“I have the perfect candidate for this role,” recruiter Peter said. And with that he carefully placed his briefcase on my desk, unlocked the latches, and gently opened it. It was then I saw something that has stayed with me ever since. It seduced me then, and does so 20 years later. This is what he had in that briefcase.

Actually, he had nothing in it. Nothing.

Except one CV- of that ‘perfect candidate.’ And that was the magic of the moment. It made me feel that that one CV was absolutely gold… it stood alone, and was a prized asset.

I could not wait to get my hands on it. But Peter made me wait. He’d half pick it up. Then gently place it down in the briefcase again, and tell me more about why the candidate was perfect. Then begin to pick it up…here it comes! And then place it down. Torture. Eventually, it came, we hired, and the rest is history as they say. But here’s the point. The magic of that moment was simply this.

Presentation counts.

It really, really, really does. Peter Salt does not even recall that moment when he gave me that CV. But I do- vividly.

Whatever you do in life and in business, think about how you present… whether it is a document, a reception area, a board room for a meeting, a table for a dinner, your desk at work, your car, and critically, the way you dress.

Do the ‘double check’ test

My mentor, colleague and friend from my Hong Kong days in the 1980s, Paula Gaber, used to talk about ‘the oracle of the obvious.’ Making something very simple and straightforward (advice to clients usually) seem like a brain wave, rocket science insight. This really does sum up my next point. But take it to heart! Please.

Before you send something to a client, or have a meeting, or leave home in the morning, pause a moment and ‘double check.’ Are you ‘presenting’  yourself, your work or your agency in the very best possible light?’ Be critical. Pay attention.

‘Presentation’ sells. It counts. Don’t blame me, but every one of us does indeed judge a book by its cover.  You know it’s true. Agree?


Dear oh dear. Three recent meals that ‘presented’ very well to me, so I ate them. Yum Yum. Bugger!

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12 Responses to The Recruiter, The Briefcase and A Powerful Message for Success

  1. peter salt October 24, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    hi Chris,
    You made me smile and yes i had no idea the impact i was having on you!

    Many thanks for your priceless perspective and insights as always.

    best regards
    Peter Salt
    Salt & Shein

    • Chris Savage October 24, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      Pleasure Peter!

  2. MC Hammer October 24, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Therefore time you had a wardrobe upgrade!

    • Chris Savage October 24, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      This is from a man who wears brown shoes with blue suits.

  3. Mason October 24, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Nice example Chris.
    Having seen examples of good and bad presentations. The ones that worked for me were where the presenter was an expert in their field and demonstrated this with multiple elements.

    Verbally, physically and the tangible presentation itself. BUT the key element was always the confident articulate way they presented the case themselves.

    They delivered concise but rich information, relevant to the topic and if asked questions/or for clarity they had the resources to draw on to answer on the spot – or provided them shortly afterwards.

    This is a great example of how to present well -whether as a recruiter, as a salesperson or if being interviewed for your next role!

    No added fluff ….just quality content! Cheers for the analogy.

    • Chris Savage October 24, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      Pleasure Mason!

  4. Cameron Wall October 24, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    Ahhh, Recruiters with brief cases, those were the days 🙂

  5. Elle October 25, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    Have just shared this with my team to reinforce why I’m so narky on formatting and branding every deliverable before sending to the client. Every little touch point says something about our agency! Thanks for presenting such a compelling case.

    • Chris Savage October 25, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      Thanks Gabrielle- good to hear!

  6. Dennis October 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    I’ve got to admit the “double check” is something I need to get better at. I get so busy fielding emails that I’m just tapping away and hitting send without reading over what I just said. Thanks to iPhone’s wonderful autocorrect I recently asked a client if they wanted to “Tofu slide with me before they go overseas”. Whatever that means.

    • Chris Savage October 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      I know that one Dennis. Many times in my PR days would I send a client a proposal for a ‘pubic relations campaign…’

      • Dennis October 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

        Ha! Gold.

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