What recruiters can learn from 'Goblin mode' | Eden Scott

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What recruiters can learn from 'Goblin mode'

Goblin mode

‘Goblin mode’ is the Oxford word of the year. Don’t worry, I’d never heard of it either. The term was chosen by the public in a landslide victory, claiming 93% of the vote and beating out competitor words ‘Metaverse’ and ‘#IStandWith.’ 

Goblin mode, as defined by Oxford, is: “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”

Social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn are said to be causing users to feel pressured to present as perfect. 

Influencers are making a fortune by posting content that conforms to popular lifestyle aesthetics.

‘That girl’ is the type of woman who rises early, drinks a green smoothie and gets in a few sun salutations before a productive day of work - clad in cashmere, of course.

The 5 AM Club trend encourages people to wake up at 5 AM (shudder) to devote 20 minutes to exercising, planning or journaling and studying for 20 minutes apiece.

More extreme versions include the 75 Hard Challenge, where participants must exercise twice a day - once outside - read 10 pages of a non-fiction book, drink a gallon of water and take a progress picture for 75 days straight. Oh, and restart the whole challenge if they skip a task.

And that’s not to mention the endless stream of supposed LinkedIn ‘experts’ extolling the virtues of hustle culture. 

I’m exhausted just writing about it.

All this is clearly having an impact. Goblin mode stands in direct defiance of the pressures we feel the need to impose upon ourselves. 

While you might be unfamiliar with the term, I’m sure you’re not unfamiliar with the type of behaviour it describes. Who amongst us has not taken a Zoom call in their dressing gown (camera off, of course), worked from their soft office (also known as a bed), or eaten their weight in Lindor chocolate truffles? Just me?

In the office, ‘Goblin mode’ could look like doing the bare minimum, neglecting important work duties, not making an effort with colleagues, or turning in low-quality work. 

But while online trends spotlight these social pressures, the burden of perfectionism is also proliferated offline. Long before the first Instagram account was created, high-pressure workplace cultures had people questioning whether their results, connections and appearances made them ‘good enough’. 

The weight of perfectionism is only exacerbated, and not caused, by social media. 

As recruiters, we are tasked with finding the perfect match for clients and candidates. Both parties need to feel they are gaining something positive from the arrangement. 

But the success of our work is not just in the placement of a candidate - rather, it’s in the longevity of their relationship with the hiring company. We’re looking for long-term working arrangements - and for that, candidates need to feel happy in their roles.

If we’re to eliminate the pressures of perfectionism, we need to be able to tolerate people bringing their authentic selves to work. 

There’s no avoiding workplace pressures - in fact, pressure can be a productive and motivating factor. But the requirement to appear perfect - or even just different to who we really are - can have an adverse effect. 

It starts with one person being willing to show their authentic self. It’s acknowledging that you found a project challenging, or that you’re leaving work early to collect your child from school, or that your evening will consist of lounging in front of the TV and not attending a glamorous drinks do. 

We can create more positive workplace cultures - one where employees want to show up, work hard and try their best. We just need to let our inner goblins show every once in a while.

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