June 21, 2018

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Working the Right Search: How Do You Really Know?

If you do retained search, then every search you get is worth your time to work on. But if you do contingency, then you are automatically at risk of not receiving renumeration for your efforts because of the nature of the business. If thatís the case, then there are two concepts that will help you determine how you spend your time and on which searches.

First use the principle of probability to help you focus where you should spend your time. Ask yourself this question: "Which search has the highest likelihood of closing the quickest?" When I first got into the business, my manager and mentor, Jim Vockley, who is now the general manager with the prestigious firm Kimmel Associates, used to say this phrase to me over and over again. Not only did it help me learn where to spend my time, it helped me to learn more about the nature of the business. As a contingency recruiter, you have more loyalty to your production than you do to a bad search. If you have a search which doesnít seem likely to close quickly, then you need to find another one. Itís the only way youíll be able to make a living in the business, otherwise youíll end up tired and frustrated as the gerbil wheel of recruiting yields a fruitless result for you. Donít look at the size of the fee or whether or not you have a good relationship with the client. Look at the probability of production from your efforts. Itís all about the odds. Contingency recruiting is a probability business.

Second, look at the variables, or clues, which help you to make your decision. Consider yourself a Ďworth-my-timeí detective. You have to make a decision on whether or not a certain search is worth your time. So many recruiters, especially rookies, jump enthusiastically into the wrong assignment because of the engaging and stimulating call they just had with their affable client, only to find that itís really could end up a fruitless and futile endeavor. If you know how to assess that search, then youíll increase the likelihood of a positive conclusion. You can even use the Ďsearch assessment toolí to help you decide whether or not itís worth it by clicking HERE and downloading it from the top of the page. This tool helps you make a decision based on quantifiable results of the likelihood of you actually closing something.

Yesterday, I was telling my four-year-old son about probabilities. I told him that just like in a recipe, those factors that go into the pot are called variables. The more variables we have to look at, the more likely we are to make a good guess. "Dagsen, Iím thinking of a number between one and ten. What is it?"

"Nine!" he responded.

"Sorry, it was seven." I then said, "Letís give you better odds. Iím either thinking of a one or a two. What number am I thinking of?"

"Two!" he responded.

"Sorry, it was a one. Letís try another question." I glanced down at the fruit bar I was holding, the same brand that he was eating. "Dagsen, if I gave you this fruit bar, would it taste good or bad?"

"It would taste good!"

"How do you know?"

"Because Iím eating one just like it!"

"Okay," I said, "Letís see if it tastes good or bad." I handed it to him and he took a bite. "How did it taste?"

"It tastes good!" he said.

"Thatís great, Dagsen! You had a variable that helped you make the correct guess. Without knowing what to look at to make the decision, then itís just random chance and youíll guess wrong most of the time, just like when I asked you what numbers I was thinking of."

By using the Ďsearch assessment tool,í it will help you know which variables will help you make the correct decision on where you spend your time. (Note, this is a free tool. Feel free to copy and distribute.)

Remember that your production is all about the odds of which efforts have the highest likelihood of yielding fruit the quickest. Start using the clues that you have right there in front of you to help you make better decisions in how you spend your time. And youíll never have bad-tasting fruit (or fruit bars) again.

- Scott Love

Copyright © 2005 Scott T. Love

Scott Love improves the performance of recruiters and the margins of search firms and staffing agencies. His training website,, has become one of the largest free internet training sites for the industry. To have him show your staff how to produce more than they thought possible, call him at 828-225-7700.