Christmas Movies That Schooled Us on Recruitment

The festive season is well and truly upon us. It's a time of tinsel, good cheer, bustling marketplaces, and lively office parties!

When Christmas comes around, many of us relish the chance to kick back, switch off and enjoy our favourite festive films. These come in all shapes and sizes; some are funny, quirky, sentimental, or even gratuitously violent. But, all the best Christmas films have one thing in common: they’re packed with relatable life lessons that could help you become a better recruiter. So, once you’ve decanted that mulled wine, sit up and pay attention!

To help you discover the true meaning of recruitment this Christmas, your friends at Agency Central have put together a list of 10 powerful lessons, hand-picked from our favourite Christmas films. Are you ready? Let the festivities begin...

1. Bad Santa

Viewers of a more sensitive nature may take offence at Bad Santa’s choice language, crass humour, and outright subversion of moral decency. Others may think it’s a welcome tonic to the saccharine sentimentality found in your typical Christmas movie! Whichever camp you fall into, you should know that at the heart of Bad Santa, lies a very important recruitment lesson.

It's not just Financial Services recruitment agencies that can benefit from running a thorough background check. In Bad Santa, ignorance of this golden rule allowed two career criminals to run their crooked Christmas scam, unchallenged for a number of years.

Willie.T.Stokes is a convicted conman, alcoholic, and a serial womaniser, who each year finds employment as a shopping mall Santa … and then, with the help of his friend Marcus, loots the stores when the doors close on Christmas Eve.

A single background check would have prevented the dastardly duo from even getting a foot in the door. So check your list, check it twice … and avoiding picking up unsuitable candidates!

2. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

In Home Alone 2, the hapless McCallister family lose sight of their youngest son, 10-year-old Kevin, who mistakenly boards a flight to New York, while the rest of the family fly to Miami for their Christmas holiday! Kevin brings his dad’s wallet (and a whole lot of mischief) to the snow-coated Big Apple, as he runs amok in the prestigious Plaza Hotel (run by a certain future President of the United States), encounters and apprehends his crooked foes Harry and Marv...and runs up an eye-watering bill on his dad’s credit card.

All of this madness could easily have been averted, if the McCallisters had only kept tabs on their son on the day of departure. But, in their defence, Home Alone 2 is set in a simpler time...long before smartphones.

The lesson here is to always look out for your candidates. Pick up the phone! A well-timed call or two on the day of the interview can help make sure they feel at ease...and arrive at the right place, at the right time. Your kind words and guidance could help them land their dream job and, in turn, earn you a nice commission. Everyone’s a winner!


3. Scrooged

Scrooged is a modern retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This iteration remains true to the spirit of the original, whilst adding a dash of farce and satire into the mix. Bill Murray plays Frank Cross - the arrogant, inconsiderate and ruthlessly ambitious president of the IBC television network - an Ebenezer Scrooge for the ‘80s!

The mean-spirited Cross forces the network’s staff to work through Christmas Eve to stage a big-budget, live production of A Christmas Carol. Before the show, Frank is visited by the ghost of his former mentor, who tells him he will be visited by three ghosts in the night, and calls Claire Phillips, his one true love, with whom he lost touch many years before, bringing her back into his life.

The familiar spirits (each given a modern treatment) take Frank to his past, present … and future, showing him the error of his ways, and treating viewers to some big laughs along the way! Scrooged is nowhere near as cloyingly sweet as many Christmas movies, but, after all the cynicism and biting humour, Cross makes good in the end, apologising to his put-upon crew, reuniting with Claire, and joining everyone for a festive sing-along.

The message at the heart of the film is that while ambition can be good for you, soft skills, empathy, compassion, and emotional intelligence are just as important. Treat your fellow recruiters (and candidates) as you would like to be treated yourself!


4. The Nightmare Before Christmas

In Tim Burton’s quirky holiday classic, Jack Skellington gives the mischievous trick-or-treating trio, Lock, Shock and Barrel, the job of capturing Santa Claus, so that he can introduce Christmas to the residents of Halloween Town.

While they successfully complete the task, when Jack asks them to keep him safe, they instead deliver him to the terrifying, subterranean-dwelling, blues-singing villain, Oogie Boogie, who plans to gamble with his life...literally. This causes poor Jack (and Santa Claus!) no end of trouble!

The lesson here? A bad hire can be very costly, so make sure your chosen candidate is a good fit.

5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The Grinch is a bitter, solitary, mountain-dwelling creature, living near the festive town of Whoville … which exists on a tiny snowflake. As Whoville’s denizens prepare for their annual Christmas extravaganza, the grumpy Grinch plots to sabotage all the festivities.

But, he wasn’t always this way. In fact, as a child, the Grinch was full of festive cheer! However, when he tried to impress town socialite Margaret May-Who by (poorly) shaving off his beard and presenting her with a handmade gift, he became a laughing stock in his hometown, and fled to Mt. Crumpit, where he lived for many years in isolation.

There are two lessons to be gleaned from Dr. Seuss’s quirky tale. Firstly, never exclude or taunt anyone in the workplace … and always take the trouble to talk to your colleagues. You may find you have more in common than you think! Secondly … don’t be a grinch! Even if festive frivolities aren’t your forte, it’s still a good idea to make the effort to get involved with the Christmas fun around the office. If nothing else, it’s a great opportunity to bond with your team ... and, you may find yourself enjoying it more than you thought you would!

6. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

In the much-loved children’s classic, Rudolph the Reindeer is constantly teased and excluded by his peers … all because of his shiny red nose. This causes poor Rudolph to doubt himself.

However, all that changed when Santa Claus himself discovered Rudolph’s hidden potential. The story ended on a happy note for the plucky reindeer when he was assigned the prestigious role of guiding Santa’s sleigh with his luminous nose. This won him the respect and admiration of all his colleagues … although maybe the fickle bunch should just have been nicer to him in the first place!

Anyway, the takeaway here is that truly gifted recruiters, like Santa, can identify a candidate’s key strengths and match them to the role they were born to do!

7. Die Hard

A candidate that’s prepared to go above and beyond the remit of their role is a keeper. Especially if their name happens to be John McClane! McClane is, of course, the quick-thinking, sharp-shooting, wise-cracking protagonist of the Die Hard series.*

The Nakatomi Corporation’s Christmas party turns to disaster when the building is hijacked by a terrorist organisation, and everyone inside is taken hostage...all except McClane. Over the course of a single dramatic evening, McClane takes down their leader, Hans Gruber and his henchmen, saving his wife, Holly, and the rest of the Nakatomi workforce in the process!

Any business would be lucky to have McClane on their side...and he didn’t even ask for overtime!

* The death-defying stunts, stunning set pieces and non-stop action may convince you otherwise, but rest assured, Die Hard is very much a Christmas movie! After all, the entirety of the film’s events take place on Christmas Eve...and ‘Let it Snow’ plays over the credits. End of discussion!

8. Trading Places

Much like Scrooged, Trading Places is a contemporary reworking of a classic Christmas novel, in this case, Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper.

Successful commodities broker Louis Winthrope III and homeless, streetwise hustler Billy Ray Valentine become the unwitting pawns in an elaborate wager between the Duke brothers, the elderly (and very wealthy) owners of the brokerage house that employs Winthrope.

The Duke brothers conduct a social experiment, publicly framing Winthorpe, firing him and hiring Valentine in his place! The brothers, on opposing sides of the ‘nature versus nurture’ debate observe how these two men from very different social backgrounds fare as their lives are switched.

Once accustomed to a privileged lifestyle, Winthorpe must now develop street-smarts to survive. Likewise, Valentine must hone his business acumen and soften his manners to get ahead as a broker. After the office Christmas party, the pair become wise to the Duke brothers’ games, collude to plot their revenge … and place a wager of their own: to see whether they can simultaneously get rich - and bankrupt the Dukes!

Amidst all the fun and games, there’s also a recruitment lesson to be learned: don’t become set in your ways. Always be ready to adapt and learn new skills. Over time, the demands of your role will change, so update your skill-set accordingly!


9. Lethal Weapon

First and foremost, let’s get that awkward question out of the way. Is Lethal Weapon a Christmas movie? Yes, you can bet your gingerbread house it is! As with its spiritual cousin, Die Hard, amidst all the high-speed action and gratuitous violence, you can catch fleeting glimpses of the festive. Although the action takes place in sunny Los Angeles, the tense opening sequence is set to ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ … and there’s a police raid in a Christmas tree warehouse.

That’s great, but where’s the recruitment lesson, you ask? I’m just about to get to that! At the start of the film, we see by-the-book LAPD Homicide Sergeant Roger Murtaugh paired with the troubled, reckless Sergeant Martin Riggs. It isn’t long before our mismatched heroes find themselves at loggerheads.

But, as a homicide investigation turns their attention to the ‘Shadow Company’ heroin-smuggling operation, the duo must put their differences aside to take down its masterminds, Jack Joshua and Peter McAllister. There’s a high bullet-count, screen-filling explosions and a spate of grizzly shootings before everything’s wrapped up, but the film ends on a note of seasonal sentimentality, when the widowed Riggs is invited to spend Christmas with Murtaugh’s family.

Recruiters, you and your colleagues may have your differences, but you’ll accomplish so much more if you look out for them … and each other. The moral of the Lethal Weapon story is simple: teamwork makes the dream work!

10. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, everything Clark Griswold touches turns to disaster. After covering the family home in 25,000 Christmas lights, he inadvertently wires them through the light switch in the garage. The lights fail at first, but when they do come on, they cause a citywide power shortage, causing chaos for the neighbours!

This is just the first in a long line of festive follies for the hapless Griswold family. A simple misunderstanding leads to Frank being kidnapped by Clark’s brother Eddie. A SWAT team is dispatched ... and the entire family is held at gunpoint, before everyone is inexplicably overcome by seasonal goodwill and all ends well (for the most part)!

Do you know the moral of this story? Most, if not all of these mishaps could easily have been avoided. A lack of preparedness can create a world of problems. So, make sure you’re ready for every challenge. And, if you ever find yourself out of your depth, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Otherwise, things may escalate very quickly!


Now, let's wrap things up here...

So, there you have it! We’ve come to the end of our round-up of Christmas classics with value-added recruitment wisdom. Which is your favourite? Or, is there a film you feel deserved a place on our list that we left out? Drop us a line and let us know!

If you enjoyed this article, please show a little seasonal goodwill and share it among all your friends. Much appreciated!

Don’t forget, we’ll be back in 2018 with yet more recruitment industry wisdom. In the meantime, we wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Written by Matt Keleher
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