July 20, 2018

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Core Competency #1: Specific Goals of Achievement

Tenure is not a requisite for success in the search business. A desire to achieve, persuasiveness, ethics, and competence in mastering the fundamentals are the four skill areas that catapult big billers to the top.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the business to achieve big billings. Experience helps, but what really matters is how well you do the right things in the right way with the right intention over and over again, always focusing on the contribution to others before the commission to yourself. Shorten the learning curve by initiating your own training, and the rest will fall in to place.

I once met a seasoned recruiter who was far from reaching his potential in spite of what seemed to be a confident outward appearance. It seemed as if his twenty years of experience was really only one year of experience twenty times because he could never master control over himself or the basics of the business and settled into the complacent comfort zone of not wanting to get better. If you are new to the business, you can outbill the biggest veteran in your office if you duplicate a model of success that is proven. What one person can do, so can another. If others have done it, so can you. Mastering success in our business is a matter of mastering skills and habits, and skills can be easily learned and habits can be developed. The sooner you learn and apply the skills required for success, the sooner you will have the success that you deserve. But it all starts with your desire.

Start with an overall strategy of success in the search business, and break that long-term strategy down to the level of basic daily tasks. Here’s how to do it.

First, start with an annual billing goal. What do you want to bill for the year? Write it down, and create a thermometer-looking device and tape it to the side of your computer monitor at work. Just like the United Way fundraiser thermometers that indicate the progress on their fundraising campaigns, color in red ink the amount of fees that you earn every time you close a deal. Watch the ‘temperature gauge’ rise as you close more deals, rising closer and closer to your annual billing goal. (download a free pdf of this at the download section of the site:

This simple tool does two things for you:

  1. It shows you how much you have already achieved on the path to success, helping you to feel successful. This keeps you motivated and in the game. When we feel successful, we become successful.

  2. It also shows you how much farther you have to go to reach your goal, which creates stress. There’s nothing wrong with stress. The problem with stress is that most of us don’t know how to manage it. (side note: Believe it or not, this business can be very relaxing. When you are doing everything right and your funnel is full, it’s a predictable business when you work in a state of flow. Appropriate stress prompts us to stay motivated and on the phone. Learn how to manage it (compress and release) and you can use it to your advantage.)

Here’s your first homework assignment for the day. Write your annual billing goal on this thermometer and tape it to the side of your monitor. Remember to look at it everyday and remind yourself of the direction that you are headed for the rest of this year. You are halfway through with 2004. Use this tool to give you an edge on your strategic direction and to give you the incentive to polish your practices and hone your habits.

Once you have determined the course on which your ship is headed, it’s now time lay in the legs of the trip. Each month, week, and day, ask yourself this question: "What are the two or three things I need to accomplish in order to consider my month/week/day successful?" Focus on those two or three things and delegate everything else. Focus on the core issues that define your success and make everything else a lower priority.

With a strong direction, a clear focus, and a well-executed plan, you’ll be head and shoulders above the rest of the pack in no time.

-Scott Love

Copyright © 2004 Scott Love

Scott Love is an author, syndicated columnist, keynote speaker, and trainer in the executive search industry. His regular columns are published in the Fordyce Letter, regional and city Business Journals, and trade magazines. To book him for your next company function or in-house training, call 828-225-7700. For more of his leadership and sales articles visit