What Joker Can Teach Recruiters About Success

New movie, Joker, is a commercial and critical success, and there’s an important lesson for recruiters locked away in there.

Holy tenuous link to pop culture, Batman!

Professional Integrity is a Joke

In a parallel universe, the Joker is a former recruiter, driven to the edge of madness after selling his soul to win just one more placement.

But that’s another story.

Instead, we’re going to look at how success changes everything… as long as you have the numbers to prove it.

The director of Joker, Todd Phillips (legendary director of… erm… The Hangover), instead of making an action-packed supervillain movie, has created something more akin to an arthouse movie, about one man’s descent into criminal insanity.

Despite the title, Phillips clearly wants this movie to be taken very seriously (and, to be fair, the critics have). Which is why he previously insisted that this is a standalone film, that it has no connection to other DC movies and that there’s no chance of making a sequel.


Lately, Phillips has opened up to the idea of a Joker sequel, hinting that under the right circumstances he would consider it.

What changed?

Well, far be it from me to suggest that I can read the guy’s mind, but it’s possible that it has something to do with… I don’t know… maybe… CHA-CHING!

Arthouse movies aren’t supposed to make lots of money. They’re supposed to be endured by die-hard movie aficionados, win awards and disappear without a trace. But this hasn’t happened with Joker. Instead, it’s managed to be critically successful and HUGELY commercially successful.

And in Hollywood, if a movie makes some serious coin, it’s not a matter of IF you’re going to get a sequel. It’s a matter of WHEN.

We can’t really blame them. If something works and is profitable, of course you’re going to milk it. It’s nice to have creativity and artistic integrity but they don’t pay the bills as reliably as an established property.

So, here’s the question, and therein in the lesson, for recruiters…

Do your clients consider the recruitment work you carry out for them to be a critical and commercial success?
Do your clients consider the recruitment work you carry out for them to be a critical and commercial success?

Because if they do, it’s not a matter of IF your clients will work with you again. It’s a matter of WHEN.

Numbers… Give Me Numbers

What does critical and commercial success look like for a recruiter?

Happy candidates in new roles? Above-average fees? A fat pipeline?

Sounds about right.

But what does critical and commercial success look like from the perspective of an employer?

If you think it’s getting a high-quality employee into the role in a reasonable period of time, you’re seriously misjudging your clients’ perspective.

When an employer hires a recruiter and they fill the vacancy, this is the minimum level of expectation. They don’t know all the skill and hard work you put into the campaign. All they know is that the role is filled and they can now forget all about it and get back to running and developing their business.

You’re an arthouse movie. The client appreciated your service and gave your efforts due attention. But now they’re just glad it’s over and they can get back to something more important.

It isn’t that you haven’t delivered critical and commercial success for your clients.

They simply don’t KNOW that this is what you’ve provided because you haven’t explicitly told them.

If you’re tracking your numbers (and you really should be), you have lots of juicy data to share with your clients that will clue them in to the commercial benefits you’ve provided.

  • How much time did you save the client by your efficient processes?
  • What percentage of candidates did you find by headhunting that your client would never have discovered through job boards?
  • What percentage of your placements are still in their role?
  • How did you overdeliver (perhaps through assisting with onboarding and development plans)?
  • How much money do you predict your client will save over the next 12 months because of your professional recruitment services?

This is not an exhaustive list. And you can probably add to it from unique elements of your service. Either way, don’t assume that your clients know and appreciate all of this information. If your work with them has been a commercial success, make sure you bring it to their attention.

If you want the sequel to your recruitment work to get the green light, make sure ALL of your clients know exactly what you’ve provided them in both the short-term and long-term.


Sometimes doing things differently can be scary.

The recent trend for superhero movies is to be either colourful, fun, action-packed romps, or gritty, dark and self-aware.

Which makes you wonder how Joker ever got made. A standalone piece of misery-porn with no big explosions or epic special effects? Talk about risk.

And yet it worked.

Likewise, if you’ve been doing recruitment a very specific way, for a long time, the thought of taking a risk on a new strategy can be scary. Or, at the very least, overwhelming.

The trick is to start with a small test, measure the results and review. And this is something we can help you with. Follow the link below for a free consultation.