June 24, 2018

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Why Is Recruiting So Hard?

Last week a staffing firm brought me in to speak at their annual meeting. One of their new recruiters came up to me between sessions and asked me a serious question. ďScott, youíve trained and coached recruiters all over the world. Youíve been in hundreds of offices. Why do you think this business is so hard?Ē

It was a great question. If we can answer it, then we can find solutions to make it easy on all of us.

ďIf we got rid of all the clients and all the candidates, it would be easy, right?Ē

ďSure,Ē she agreed.

ďSo itís all about the people. We have to find ways to get people to follow our advice and thank us for it. Itís a business of influence and leading people to decisions which benefit them.Ē

Thatís the solution right there to solving most of your problems. I thought we were done but she kept at it with another good question.

ďBut itís still so painful when the candidates take a counteroffer or when they are not entirely honest with us. Like last week a candidate told me he wasnít looking at other jobs, but it turns out he took another one and now he wonít call me back. I feel so dejected with that.Ē

I agreed with her. The hardest part of this business is managing people. The second hardest part is managing the emotions that go along with disappointment.

Like I always say, when itís good, itís really, really good. And when itís bad, itís really, really bad.

There are a few key principles I think recruiters should keep in mind to take the sting out of disappointment:

1. Are candidates loyal to us? Sort of. Candidate loyalty extends to the limit of our usefulness to them.

They are only going to be so honest with us and so loyal to us as long as they see we are a useful mechanism to help them. We can try to build an authentic relationship to increase this loyalty, but even sometimes that does not work. By understanding this, we can give them space and do not apply pressure to them. When you apply pressure in recruiting, you drive people away.

With candidates I always say, ďJoe, this is your career. You need to do what is in your best interests. As we go through this process, if at any time you are not interested in my clientís opportunity, then thatís okay. All I ask is that you are honest with me and that you tell me that. Does that make sense?Ē

This keeps them from disappearing and now they feel a sense of loyalty and trust with me so they can voice the concern. And I can help them figure out if the concern is a deal killer or a deal complicator. If we find out that the issue is just a complicator, then the deal is still alive and we didnít lose it because the candidate quit returning our calls since they felt pressured. We need to put the candidate needs first and find out how we can serve them, and articulate this message to them. When you do this, and gain agreement from them, then you can build in loyalty and commitment from them and you increase the odds of compliance beyond usefulness.

2. Donít focus on the outcome of the placement. Focus on the next step.

Yes, focus on making placements of course, and you need to have an annual billing goal. But professional poker players know that they are playing a game of variance. There is a bit of luck involved in poker and itís the same thing with our business. Itís more than just timing and hoping you accidentally stumble upon success. The more you create little improvements in your skills and the more you do things in a systematic process and with the right frequency and intention, then you create small pockets of opportunity that intertwine with each other in a synergistic and symbiotic pattern, which leads to massive success.

Exceptional professional poker players have two goals each time they play, and itís not necessarily focused on winning each hand: First, they want to make good decisions. And second, they want to learn something when they play. We should have the same perspective. They cannot control the flow of the cards, but only their decisions and their emotions.

Detach from the result and focus on serving that candidate and taking that candidate to the next step. The only thing that matters in our business is getting the candidate to the next step.

3. The sting of disappointment is a good teacher.

Consider this thought: Iíve come across staffing and search firm owners who are closed to the idea of having me teach their people the secrets of ultimate success because they are having a good year. I could bang on their office door with a fistful of winning lottery tickets and they still would still be closed to the idea of something better. ďWeíre good. Weíre having our best year. We donít need training, things are great!Ē This is the attitude you want your competitors to have, because they will eventually get soft and fat and you will capture business from them.

Moderate success can blind you from small opportunities to improve. These small opportunities can move you an inch forward here and two inches forward there at pivotal times, and the result can be surprising and significant. For example, living in DC I depend on the metro for transportation. If I miss the blue line train by thirty seconds, it will cost me thirteen minutes in my commute home because sometimes thatís how long it is between trains during rush hour. If I donít get just a little bit better each day, then I am missing opportunities that can lead to massive placement activity.

Now, these missed opportunities are invisible and you will never know how much more success you would have achieved because you are confusing exceptional skills with a robust economy. Thatís the saddest part of being a trainer and a coach to the industry. I see people who will never know how much more they could have billed and they will never reach their peak potential. I know how much more since Iíve seen hundreds of examples like them before, but they donít see it. They donít see that they could finally break $500k or even a million if they were only open to spending a small amount of time in learning how to make these improvements. It reminds me of the day my son, when he was five, refused to go into the shiny new play area in a McDonalds restaurant because he was thrilled with the plastic whistle that came with the happy meal. ďIf only you could see this from my perspective, youíd be excited about that opportunity right there in front of you.Ē Most recruiters are sitting on a small fortune and they donít even realize it. (NOTE: From my coaching experiences, the key is usually a minor pivot in strategy combined with a small bump in performance).

When you are experiencing success, you are too busy popping champagne corks and cashing checks. When you go through this, please do not lose sight of the idea of getting better. If anything, purchase a bunch of sales books and initiate a weekly sales training curriculum in your company. Keep sharpening that saw. Even if you have a low budget, do something. Use the deal autopsy sheet or any of the other ten free downloads on my freebies page. Many firms will print out past articles and blog posts I have written and use them as a format for weekly team meetings. There are hundreds of economical ways to bring training to your team. Do this on a weekly basis. Make this a priority.

Copyright © 2016 Scott Love

Scott Love helps staffing and recruiting companies get more business from better clients, and at higher rates and fees. Over 4,500 staffing and recruiting firms from over 35 countries have invested in his systems. Visit his free training site to access his Staffing and Recruiting Podcast and other free tools that will help you sell more: