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How to Manage Information Overload
The information landscape has changed in the past twelve months in the recruiting and staffing industry. There are so many choices of information, infinite choices. And recruiters and sales people are bombarded day after day, hour after hour, with messages that are competing for their attention, and more importantly, their time. Iíll be honest, even my own messages are vying for your attention.
Your time is finite. The choices to fill it are infinite. That results in a necessity for recruiters to only fill those finite slots of time from a perspective based on wisdom and discernment. The problem with this is that most of us make decisions based on emotion. Weíll drop everything to learn about the latest development with Britney or Brangelina because the excitement of celebrity gossip, as a rule, always overshadows anything related to business.
Be wise in how you spend your time. When you get that email message or when someone says they want to become your friend on facebook, you need to process that request for your attention based on a criteria that will help you achieve your daily mission. And in the competitive world of recruiting, especially right now, a tight and focused commitment to mission accomplishment is critical to achievement.
Follow these five steps to keep from wasting your time when it comes to managing information:
- Set aside blocks of time to process your email. That means that when you block out prime calling time, you donít check email. Or if you do, you donít even read emails unless they are specifically from a candidate trying to send you a resume or a client indicating interest in a candidate that you submitted. The internet pressures you into giving it attention, and your email is a big part of that. I just recently heard that by next year employees will be spending forty percent of their time reading and processing email.
- When you see an email that is unrelated to closing a specific deal or making a sale, ask yourself this question: Will reading this email bring me closer to or further away from accomplishing my daily goals and tasks? If it doesnít then read it later. Put a star next to it or tag it and read it at the end of the day or during your lunch break.
- What sites are you visiting during working hours? They might be fun and interesting, but are they contributing to your mission? I canít believe how much information is out there that is related to our industry but has nothing to do with helping me or you reach our goals. Itís fun. Itís interesting. Itís engaging and social. But does it help you grow? Does it help you close another placement? Iím sure some of you might think that my perspective might not seem very cordial or social and that itís too capitalistic. Well, yes, probably so. And thatís precisely what is required in these times. The most accurate metaphor I can think of that describes the current business climate is combat. When you make a bad decision, the consequences are exacerbated because of how scarce the business is right now. Thatís why you need to tighten it up and quit visiting fun stuff and social sites during working hours unless they help you close placements or accomplish your daily goals. During working hours, itís one thing to network with prospective candidates. Itís something else to network with your friends.
- Monitor your research. With most sales calls, a good sales person always sets a clear objective of the call prior to making it. Thatís what you need to do with your research time. Set a clear goal of research and give your research time a deadline such as 30 minutes or 45 minutes. You could say that you want to compile a list of 50 names from the web over the next half hour. Or that you want to identify 100 possible candidates from your database to call tomorrow. Or that your internet research will help you to identify 20 new client prospects for tomorrow. When you do this, you can even take it to extremes and set a timer to go off after half an hour. I use a low tech egg timer from Walmart to ring after thirty minutes of doing research. Iím always surprised how quickly the time passes when Iím on the web. Because I know Iím racing against the clock, my temptation to start visiting celebrity gossip sites, my secret hobby, is minimized.
- Conduct a week-long team training exercise of accountability. Managers, print this article out right now and read it to your sales team today. For this week, everyone creates a daily plan and budgets in time for research and email responding. And next Monday you can hold each other accountable and ask them if the exercise helped them to reach their goals for the week. Test the concept. If it works, do more of it. If not then keep things the way they are. Let them decide if this works.
You need to see yourself as a soldier who only has so much space available to store your gear when youíre out in the field. Think of your time that way, and youíll be amazed at how much more effective you are and how much more you accomplish with a tighter focus.
- Scott Love
Scott Love gives recruiters a step by step system that anyone can learn. If others can be successful in this business, so can you. As a consultant and trainer to the industry, Scott has helped organizations get better margins by improving their operational performance and client development strategies, and has helped recruiters to master the business and get better production with more peace of mind. Over 2,500 search firms and staffing agencies in sixteen countries have invested in their own performance improvement through his educational tools, seminars, consulting services, and training programs.
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Copyright © 2009 Scott Love