June 24, 2018

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Seven Steps to Developing Resilience

This is a tough business. Itís so tough that I wanted to apologize to the recruiters I would hire when they started with me. "Welcome aboard, Bob. I just wanted to say congratulations and that Iím sorry." Itís a tough business emotionally and mentally. Itís even tough physically when it comes to picking up that forty pound phone. But if you can build your phone muscles and your attitude muscles, then you can make it in the business and also have a pretty good chance at keeping your sanity.

Real success in the search business is based on mastering just a few areas, and one of the most significant is learning how to think. If you can think like a big biller, do the same things that a big biller does with the frequency and intensity in which he does it, then you can have what a big biller has. And when it comes to thinking, itís all about resilience.

Your resilience is how you overcome what happens to you. Itís how quickly you bounce back after that hot candidate changed his mind right after he accepted the offer. Itís how you respond to losing a third of your business when your client contact gets fired. Itís how you respond to finding out that the star candidate whom you presented to your client six months ago just got hired by your client. . . through another recruiter in the northwest. So your client just tells you to Ďwork out the feeí with this mouth-breathing moron who didnít even prep the candidate for a freaking counteroffer, so any chance for a fee recovery or even a split just went out the window. Man, what a tough business.

Let me give you some hope. Yes, you can overcome the adversity in this business. Yes, it is worth it if you can figure out how to think and what to do. Yes, there is a pot of gold underneath that rainbow but you have got to start thinking at a higher level and stop doing things that donít work anymore. There are three steps to building resilience into your desk so that you recover quicker and get your actions focused on revenue-generating efforts.

  1. Recognize that resilience is built on adversity. Recently I read an article called How Resilience Works in the Harvard Business Review. According to the author, Diane Coutu:

    More than education, more than experience, more than training, a personís level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. Thatís true in the cancer ward, itís true in the Olympics, and itís true in the boardroom.

    And itís true in our business. Based on Coutuís interviews with resilient executives, she said that all of them point to a time in their life when they had to make a choice to overcome a catastrophic situation, what she calls a crucible. She said that this crucible experience in their lives helped them to learn how to overcome adversity and develop resilience.

  2. Adopt the attitude of "I am invincible." What would happen if you really were invincible? When you start acting like you are bulletproof, then you become that way. Become the person that you want to become by talking yourself into it. Yeah, itís simplistic. But every book Iíve ever read on attitude, success, and motivation all say the same thing: you think your way to success. If you havenít read Napoleon Hillís legendary book Think and Grow Rich, you need to purchase it today. Invest ten bucks in your financial future. This book tells you that the secret to creating wealth is learning how to think at a higher level. And one easy tip for you to start doing today is to tell yourself over and over again "I am invincible. I am invincible." Say it with confidence. Start acting like you are invincible. Start feeling it. Start thinking it. Start living it.

  3. Start looking at your failures as successes. Use your past catastrophes as your best educational resources for the future. When something goes wrong always ask "What could I learn from this situation? If I could be like superman and spin the world in the opposite direction and go back in time, what would I have done differently?" Your team can even use the structured exercise on how you can analyze your deals that flop in a deal autopsy. The article is on my site under Ďweekly tipsí, dated Jan 24, 2003. Click this link to get it:

  4. Ask yourself "What is the absolute worst thing that could happen if I face this fear?" What is the worst thing that could happen if you started calling those clients that scare you? So what if heís the CEO. Heís no better than you. Iíll never forget the time I asked the executive assistant for the cell phone number for the CEO of Fluor Daniel. So I called him on it and we spoke for half an hour as he was driving down the highway in Irvine. Remember that senior level executives are the same as you and me and are more open minded than low level managers and usually are better at returning phone calls. Start facing your fears and youíd be surprised at how quickly they go away.

  5. Ask yourself "What is the good in this bad situation?" Everything that happens which is negative always has a positive. Always. But sometimes it takes effort, team support, and real guts to ask that question.

  6. Share your victories with your team. Everyone needs a team, especially solo practitioners. This can be a lonely business and if you are on your own you need to get some friends. Get involved in your state association or consider a network or a peer group with people outside of the business like TEC or The Alternative Board. Get regular relationships going in your life because you have an inherent need for recognition as a mere mortal human being. Sure, youíre a recruiter. But youíre still human.

  7. Eliminate sarcasm and unsupportive attitudes from your office. This is the quickest2 way to build confidence in the office. Donít tolerate anything but supportive communication between your staff. A peak performing organization starts with peak performance leadership. If the leader of the office shoots down the efforts of the staff through biting sarcasm, then everyone else takes their cues from him. When you see it happening with your team, address it. If you see sarcasm and negative communication happening to you from a co-worker, tell him that you feel upset when he does it, and ask him not to do it anymore. "Joe, when you say things like that, I feel upset. I would appreciate it if you would be more supportive in your comments."

You are a recruiter. You have one of the most important jobs in our countryís free enterprise system and one of the most financially rewarding. Itís also one of the most nerve-racking. Realize that even though the battles you face everyday are real, you can win them with an attitude of achievement based on resilience.

-Scott Love

Copyright © 2004 Scott Love

Scott Love increases the billings of recruiters and expands the margins of search firms through his coaching, consulting, in-house training, and keynote presentations. To have him help your recruiters bill more than they ever thought possible, call him at 828-225-7700. His website,, has become one of the largest free training sites for the search industry with over 120 articles, tools, and downloads.