OK I’ll admit it

– I have no idea what Smile Day is supposed to be about.

It’s right up there with Geek Pride Day (May 25th), Global Handwashing Day (October 15th) and my wife’s birthday in terms of days that go completely under the radar and which I never remember are happening until I get a tweet (or an irate text message) at some point during the morning.

Allegedly there are between 16-19 different ways to smile depending upon who you believe. As recruiters we experience the full range of emotions on a daily basis (as well as hearing about our candidates’ full range of emotions) so I decided to be topical and explore the different kinds of smile in recruitment.


  • The ‘pleased to meet you smile’


A genuine smile of greeting. We are indeed pleased to meet you. We’re nice people. Look, showing teeth and everything. Lovely.


  • The ‘it is you, isn’t it?’ smile


Most commonly appearing in crowded coffee shops where you’ve arranged to meet a candidate. You’ve made eye contact 3 or 4 times, decided nobody else looks like a better match to whom you were expecting, but are still not 100% sure because on LinkedIn their tie was blue and today it’s red.


Usually followed by….

  • The ‘Yes it is!’ smile



Thank God for that.


  • The ‘Hello Mr/Mrs Client’ Smile


A self-confident smile that oozes ability and success. The smile that says ‘I can help your business to succeed’. Plenty of eye contact, approachable manner, but not too OTT, thus covering the possibility of something being stuck in your teeth.


In response we usually get….

  • The ‘personable client’ smile


The one that says “let’s hope you can indeed help me. The last five recruiters I spoke to sent me the square root of zilch.”


  • The ‘I really wish I knew what you were talking about’ smile


Your lips are moving, but I haven’t understood a word you’ve said for 10 minutes. I was fine when you asked me if I took milk in my coffee, but after you moved past that and into the description of the structured and mezzanine finance deals you’re involved in I’m afraid I went to my happy place.


  • The ‘come on Mr/Mrs Client, let’s all inwardly laugh at this bloody muppet’


That knowing smile you exchange with the partner when they’re briefing you and two of your competitors on the same role. You’ve asked about the sort of private equity houses they act for and how their funds team interfaces, whether they’re looking for a US firm or Magic Circle background, then your competitor asks whether they’d look at someone who’s done conveyancing transactions.


  • The ‘please, just don’t waste my time’ smile


Usually reserved for when your candidate told you that they hadn’t given anyone else consent to approach your client on their behalf, then when your client comes back and says they’ve already seen the CV the candidate suddenly says “oh wait, yes, maybe I did say to XXX that they could send my CV to every firm in the known universe. Does that matter?”


  • The ‘let’s do a deal’ smile


The recruiter’s favourite. Saved for when an offer is made, a candidate accepts a role, or even if you receive through a great CV that you know is going to be an absolutely perfect fit for the position. See how she holds the credit card in her hand? She’s going to now be able to pay for the 35 coffees it took to convince that candidate to meet her client for an informal chat. Job well done. Bit more of the student loan paid off too.


  • The ‘how the hell did he manage that’ smile


Not so much a smile as a look of absolute incredulity. This one appears when that candidate whose CV is more jumpy than an Olympic trampolining competition and who you’ve not managed to get an interview for suddenly moves from a High Street firm to partner designate in the Magic Circle. This is a bad smile to have to make, unless you confess to the MD that this particular phenomenon has happened – if he gives you the same look back then you’re in the clear.


  • The ‘SHE WENT WHERE??????’ smile


A slightly less extreme result than the above, but the other way around. You’ve managed to secure your candidate a move up the food chain, better career prospects, more money and ten minutes from their front door but they decide to dodge your calls for two weeks, making you look foolish in front of your client before they finally turn the offer down and decide to stay put.

6 months later they appear on the website of the most bloody awful firm in town, where the staff turnover is ludicrous, the senior partner an alcoholic and you’re pretty sure the SDT has their number on speed dial.


This is then accompanied by…….


  • The ‘I’ll get back to you’ smile


Also useful when a new client tries to negotiate your fees down to more than half what your established clients have paid you for a number of years because they assume you’re so keen to work with them.


The above usually follows the phrase ‘let me just run that past my Director…….’



Contact Us

Birmingham Office
137 Newhall Street
B3 1SF
Tel:    0121 233 5000
Email: enquiries@vgcharles.com

London Office
330 High Holborn
Tel:    020 7649 9094
Email: enquiries@vgcharles.com

Manchester Office
Peter House, Oxford Street
M1 5AN
Tel:    0161 930 8890
Email: enquiries@vgcharles.com

Job Search