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What can The Wolf of Wall Street Teach Us About Recruitment Industry Ethics?

Posted by: Megan Speet


That’s right; nothing.

Type the words “Wolf of Wall Street” and “Recruitment” into Google, and you will see a list of articles with titles such as “Lessons Recruiters can take from Jordan Belfort” or “What Recruitment Can Take from The Wolf of Wall Street.”At first glance, a few of the articles make seemingly valid points, such as Belfort’s straight line persuasion and art of the sale, as well as determination and confidence.

However, what the majority of these articles fail to mention is how The Wolf of Wall Street and the life of Jordan Belfort represent ethical “Don’ts”, and teach the exact opposite of what it is to be an ethical and reputable recruitment consultant and sales person.

Many articles comment that Jordan Belfort has an admirable mindset when it comes to what he does, and that this is why he can be used as a great example of a strong and confident recruiter. This is utterly preposterous. Throughout the film adaptation of The Wolf of Wall Street, there are constant displays of Belfort’s mindset that may at first show that he is driven, but it is only one thing that drives this mindset that makes him anything but admirable; money and he’d sell his grandmother to get it.

Belfort is constantly swindling and lying throughout his career as a stockbroker, with his personal financial gain being the only thing on his mind. Constantly cheating investors out of millions, Jordan Belfort doesn’t care about who he steps on in order to rise to the top, bleeding even the most average person dry of their life savings. A great recruiter should not have personal gain on their mind, and should instead focus on the best outcome for both the candidate and the client. A great consultant should not be thinking, “What can I gain from this?” They should instead be focusing on placing their consultant in a great position, and providing their clients with the best suited candidate for their company.

Many of the articles mention how Jordan Belfort shows what it means to be a noble sales person. But there is absolutely nothing noble about any of Jordan Belfort’s actions. There is no nobility in spending money carelessly, lying to people and getting yourself and those around you in trouble with the FBI. It’s important to take pride in what you do, but only if what you do is honourable.

Recruitment is a collaborative industry. It’s about building and maintaining relationships, and caring for your clients and candidates. Belfort and his team do not take the time to build relationships with those they are speaking to over the phone, so they lack empathy which makes it all the more easier to con them. Candidates and clients do not want to feel used, and need to know that they have the recruitment consultant’s complete trust. A great recruiter builds this trust and makes sure that they know exactly what their clients and candidates need whilst taking into consideration their best interests, preferences and abilities.

Jordan Belfort’s approach to sales is quick and frequent, only caring about his clients as a means to fill up his own wallet. Quick placements in the recruitment industry can result in damage for everyone involved. Quick placements may seem efficient, but your time, resources and commission can disappear quickly if a candidate is unhappy with their role or the client is unhappy with their candidate. Quick work instead of quality work may also affect the future of a consultant and their ability to retain business.

Jordan Belfort displays an incredible amount of persistence and self-belief; these qualities are fantastic in any career. If you consider The Wolf of Wall Street as an excellent example of drive, confidence and one man’s journey to rise to the top, then sure, pick up a copy of the novel, or watch the movie. But to use The Wolf of Wall Street as a point of reference would be an insult, and a fake representation of the hard working (and not to mention ethical!) consultants in the recruitment industry.

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