June 19, 2018

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Four Ways to Beat the Odds in a Down Market

In every recession, someone is making money. The business is still out there, but itís not as plentiful and it certainly isnít going to everyone anymore. But, itís still out there. It is going to someone. If you want it, you have to be good enough to get it.

Here are four ideas and action steps that you can take today to get better odds and still win big in a down market:

  1. Examine your niche and make it malleable. In every search and staffing practice, whether they know it or not, there are three components of a niche. There is the industry (such as construction, manufacturing, insurance), a function (marketing, accounting, finance, sales) and geography ( a region like New England, or a state or a city). This is the time to determine whether or not you are getting what you want in each of those three areas and make appropriate changes. Talk to other people who work in your space like other recruiters and management consultants. Talk to people who are involved in associations that serve your niche to find out where those areas of demand are and make appropriate changes. Sometimes the demand shifts from one region to another, or from one function to another. Be smart about it and learn how to make changes. Itís what I call learning how to Ďsmell the money.í Like a dog following the scent of a trail, you need to let the demands of the market guide you in where you go.

  2. Become a better sales person. You are in the business of selling, whether you like it or not. You have to get better at your persuasive communication at this time more than ever. If the business opportunities are waning, then realize that your best competitors will become even more competitive and you must rise up to that level. You need to get an edge over them. An edge, no matter how slight, is still an edge and thatís all you need to win the business away from them. You donít need to be ten times better than the next recruiter. Just one percent better. But from my experience as a consultant to the industry, most recruiters are not willing to do what it takes to get better. Donít be like everyone else. Rise up during this time period. Make it a personal goal to not let the economy affect your billings. During 2002 I made certain changes to my niche and my sales skills and billed 20 percent more than the previous year.

  3. Quit complaining. Quit using the economy as an excuse for what has always been your own substandard performance and start looking for solutions to your problems. You always get what you focus on. Donít be surprised about having more problems if thatís all you think about. If you want solutions then start thinking about solutions. Most people really arenít doing what they should be doing anyway. Most are satisfied with not getting better. I once hired a recruiter who had twenty years in the business but it was really one year twenty times. Donít be that guy. Get better. Stay sharper. Improve your own performance and youíll improve your income. This isnít the time to cut the training budget. Spend more time and more intentional and deliberate effort to keep your people sharp. Keep them focused on seeking solutions and getting them better at what they do.

  4. Make increases across the board in the things that count. Increase these three areas:

    - the time you spend on the phone

    - the quantity of people you reach

    - your conversions.

    a. By spending more time in the office you are intending to increase your time on the phone. Expand each day by thirty minutes in both directions and you add twenty hours a month in phone time. Itís like getting an additional week in phone time.

    b. Increase your effectiveness on the phone. That means that by getting better at staying on the phone you are reaching more people. In lean times, your net has to be cast to a wider area. You have to expand all areas of your performance and you need to reach more people. Consider using the telephone discipline tool that I have on my free download section of my site at this link. It will help you to increase your call output by twenty-five percent. Free Downloads.

    c. Increase your Ďconversions.í That means that you have to get more people to consider your opportunities. Did you know that you can actually use a declining economy as a way to get more candidates interested in opportunities? You can show the candidate that at this time, those companies who are hiring through search firms are showing a clear sign of strength and stability. Why else would they make an investment in someone unless they had the financial resources and commitment to hiring someone right now? You can show them that, based on the principle of scarcity, those opportunities that are out there right now are more special than in healthier times. If a company is willing to pay a search firm a fee right now, than that opportunity is a real one and is worth looking at. Also, you can show them that by working with a search firm they are insulating themselves from risk. If they make a move on their own, itís risky. With a search firm, thereís an investment and everyone wants to get a return on an investment.

When it comes to facing adversity, you need to face it head on and with a smile on your face. You need to find out how you can actually use your adversity to your benefit. With one of my consulting clients, a large regional staffing firm, I showed them how they can use negative economic times as a tool and vehicle to make more appointments and get more business. Itís exciting to see this happen at a time when everyone else is giving up and solving problems by cutting margins instead of adding value. Thereís always a solution to every problem. You canít win a war by throwing your hands in the air and surrendering. You have to be aggressive. If youĎve ever seen the movie Gettysburg, based on the historically accurate novel The Killer Angels, one of the great moments in the movie was how Colonel Chamberlain led his Maine troops in a victorious battle against the confederates, without ammunition. When they ran out of ammunition, he gave the command to fix bayonets. He led a charge against the advancing confederate army. Thinking they had come against fresh reinforcements, they retreated. You have to assume command of your desk, make a commitment to win, and be intense about seeking solutions. In times like this, the one who wins is the one who wants it the most and is willing to do whatever it takes.

- Scott Love

Scott Love improves recruiter performance by getting recruiters to think at a higher level, to develop a better strategy, to master recruiting tactics, and to develop better work habits. He has created a simple step-by-step system of recruiting success that is replicable. Over 2,000 search firms and staffing agencies have invested in his training products, seminars, videos, books and consulting. Visit his website for free videos, training tools, quizzes, instruments, and articles at

Copyright (c) 2008 Scott Love