July 20, 2018

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Recruiting Insights from My Golf Trip to St. Andrews

I just returned from a golf trip with family to Scotland. I played on several courses at St. Andrews, and will never forget my perfectly straight 220 yard drive off the first tee at the Old Course (a 600 year old course) as about 40 tourists waited to see me slice it. “Well done, sir,” the Scottish caddie said to me as we hit the links.

The trip reminded me of a professional golfer turned recruiter whom I met several years ago at an in-office training engagement. He played professional golf for several years, and decided to give it up to become a recruiter. The tours he played on weren't televised and most of them were drivable from his home in Dallas. He spent most of his time on the road and sought out sponsors to pay for his expenses. The competitive nature of golf and the time away from home ended up putting too much pressure on his family, so he turned in his clubs for a phone and made a nice living out of executive search. His competitiveness and drive made him a remarkable recruiter, and he was all the better because of his previous career as a professional athlete.

“What was the average stroke difference between you and Tiger Woods?” I asked.

“Just two strokes.”

So between him and one of the world's greatest golfers, there was just an average of two strokes. And with that narrow margin, it was still intensely competitive.

From my trip to St. Andrews, I learned four things about recruiting and how recruiting is a competitive sport, a game:

Each call makes a difference. The putt that missed by an inch has as much value as the drive off the tee box. Both are worth one stroke. When you call a candidate who says he isn't interested, you have to look at that call as having as much value as an eager candidate who can't wait to make a move. That nonchalant candidate could possibly lead you to your next placement. You need to take it seriously and see if you can get value out of every call you make.

It's all in your head. Golf and recruiting are about 90 percent mental. And the other ten percent is mental. If you expect to get the business, you'll probably get the business. If you expect that nobody is hiring, then nobody is hiring. If you expect to slice your get the picture.

Calm down, breathe, and swing easy. Don't stress so much about the business. If you apply your energy in the right areas with the right intention, the right verbiage, and the right intensity, then you'll get the results. The business works if you work it the right way. There's no mystery about it. Just find candidates who are worth a fee and place them in companies who have the need and budget. Focus on setting up interviews and everything else will take care of itself. Focus, focus, focus on getting people together.

Enjoy the landscape. When we played the courses, the most important thing wasn't the score. It was the time on the course and the time with loved ones. On your desk, of course, it's much more competitive, but you can still enjoy the landscape as you walk along the course. Too many recruiters focus on purely their production, their billings. Now hold on. I'm not saying production isn't important. It is critical. But the real wealth you build along the way is (1) the richness of your own character and (2) the relationships you grow on your path to production. Look at it this way: If there is any sort of a defect in your character, it will show up on your desk, and will reflect in your production. Every reason why you are not as successful as you can become is traceable to your character. Change your perspective of the landscape from just a money-oriented focus to one that includes character growth. Ironically, you'll grow your income that way.

I can't guarantee you'll get a greater score on the golf course if you follow this advice, but at least it will help you enjoy the journey and help you become a better recruiter.

- Scott Love

Scott Love trains, motivates and inspires recruiters to achieve greatness in the profession. Visit his online recruiter training center for tips, tools, downloads, videos, articles, instruments and quizzes that can help you bill more.

Copyright © 2010 Scott Love