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7 ‘Universal Truths’ About the Recruiting Business

by | Feb 17, 2015 | Recruiter Training, Top Echelon Blog

There are a few things you can count on in this world.  The sun will rise in the east and set in the west.  What goes up must come down.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  The funniest guy at your office holiday party will regret it on Monday morning.

In recruiting, as in life, there are absolutes, unshakable truths that simply aren’t negotiable.  In our industry, they are the “Universal Truths of Recruiting,” and those who learn them have a million dollar advantage over those who doubt them.

Below are seven “Universal Truths” about the recruiting business.

#1—Planning will be the foundation of your success or failure in recruiting. 

A well thought-out gameplan is essential in our industry.  A great recruiter with a poor plan will only get low-to-average results.  An average recruiter with a great plan will get great results.  A great recruiter with a great plan will be at the top of his game, with the earnings to prove it.

#2—Your recruiting business must be open for business most of the day.

When you are on the phone, you are open for business.  When you are off the phone, you are closed for business.  It sounds simple, but so many recruiters ignore this basic, obvious truth. If you aren’t on the phones the majority of the day (four hours of connect time), you might as well hang out a “Closed” sign.

Good recruiters know that the phones are their chance to spin hay into gold. They know that repeatedly checking voice mails, surfing the Internet, and spending hours on paperwork are career killers.  You can try to fool yourself with quality calls versus quantity calls, but in this industry, less is never more.  The brutal truth of recruiting is that more than half will leave the business within the first few months . . . because they aren’t open for business long enough to stay in business.

#3—If you don’t set clear expectations up front, they will never be met. 

Does the following sound familiar?  “I haven’t heard from my number-one candidate in two weeks.  She won’t return my calls.”  Or, “I sent them three great candidates four days ago and I’ve heard nothing since, even though I’ve called twice a day.”

New recruiters experience frustration every day.  The key to putting an end to this is control.  We must stay in control of every search—and that is easy to do as long as clear candidate and client expectations are defined from the beginning.

In your initial conversations, outline how you work.  Set ground rules: establish communication methods (email, phone), communication frequency, and an expected feedback time frame.  Be very clear, “For this professional relationship to work, we both have to be completely open and honest at all times.  If anything changes on either end, we need to communicate that immediately.  We can help each other succeed, but we don’t ever want to waste each other’s time.”

#4—They all lie (clients and candidates).

It may sound cynical but it’s the truth: clients and candidates lie.  It’s not a stinging indictment of the human race; it’s just that people don’t like to deliver bad news.  As a recruiter, you’ve worked hard for your clients and candidates.  You’ve done a great job at building good rapport and a strong relationship.  They don’t want to hurt your feelings by telling you the truth: this isn’t going to work out.  So they delay.  They don’t return phone calls or emails.  They keep you hoping.  They don’t tell you they’ve decided to move in another direction.  Or they lie.

How do you achieve an honest dialogue with clients and candidates?  Set yourself up to succeed from the onset of the search: “Communication is the most important factor in our relationship.  We will both have good and bad news to share. No matter what the news is, in order for us to do our jobs properly, let’s agree to share all the information in a timely manner.  It helps save time and focuses our energies where they need to be.  If at any time your interest level falls in this candidate or opportunity, I need to know about it immediately.  At the end of the day, our word and integrity is all we really have in life, don’t you agree?”

#5—When that little voice in your head says something is wrong, there is!

You know the feeling.  Your hair stands up on the back of your neck, or your stomach flip-flops.  It’s your instinct, your subconscious, telling you something isn’t right with a client or candidate.  It may be an unexpected response to a question when qualifying a job order.  Or an inconsistent statement when questioning a candidate about their commitment level to a new opportunity.  We hear it; that little voice saying something is wrong—and we better do something about it.

Many recruiters ignore their instincts because they don’t want to acknowledge bad news.  Do not make that mistake!  Anytime alarm bells sound, it is a wake-up call.  Ask questions: “Wait a minute, I want to be sure I understood where you are coming from with your answer to my last question.”  Or, “Has anything changed since the last time we talked?”  Or, “Are you still a 10 on a scale of 1-10 on the opportunity?”

#6—The recruiting gods are fair . . . as long as you have a positive attitude and consistent output.

We all have those weeks or months when everything seems to go wrong.  A candidate who just said yes to a new position flips and accepts a counteroffer from his current employer.  A fall-off happens after 30 days with a new company and you haven’t been paid yet.  A client unexpectedly starts working with another recruiter.  These things happen.  The good news about recruiting is that it is essentially a fair business . . . as long as you work hard to keep it that way.  Maintain a positive attitude.  Keep a consistent pipeline of jobs and candidates at all times.  Never forget you’re playing a whole season, not just one game.

#7—If you don’t work with the hiring manager directly, you will spend double the time on the search to fill it.  If you fill it.

HR departments.  We’ve all dealt with them.  The ones who demand you work exclusively with them.  The gatekeepers who never give you access to the hiring manager.  You jump through hoop after hoop.  It can feel like you’re performing in the circus, doing all sorts of tricks but going nowhere.

In handling exclusively HR searches, the sense of urgency is typically reduced significantly because they don’t feel the pain of needing the A-player.  They don’t own the problem, or even have a clear understanding of the true specifications of the position.  They have the tendency to weed out great candidates in an administrative judgment, or worse, in an internal power struggle.  This dead-end search is a frustration you can do without.  If you must work with the HR department, make sure you have contact with the hiring manager.  If not, decline the search.

I’ll have seven more “Universal Truths” about the recruiting business in my next blog post.

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Jon Bartos, a guest writer for the Top Echelon Recruiter Training Blog, is a premier writer, speaker, and consultant on all aspects of personal performance, human capital, and the analytics behind them.  In December of 2012, Bartos joined trustaff Solutions as the president.  Founded in 2002, trustaff Solutions has been distinguished nationally five times by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest-growing, privately-held companies in the country.  Click here to visit Bartos’s website.

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