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What is “The Total Account Executive” in Recruiting?

by | Dec 4, 2015 | Recruiter Training, Top Echelon Blog

The phone rang. I answered, and boy, was I surprised. At the other end of the line was someone I hadn’t spoken to in quite a long time and yet someone who had such a dramatic influence on my recruiting life. It was, in my opinion, the best recruiter who has ever lived, bar none. So good at our craft, in fact, that years ago I nicknamed him “Robocruiter” (half man, half recruiter) after the 1987 futuristic movie Robocop.

I also wanted to give him a nickname so that I could teach his techniques without disclosing his identity. I didn’t want him to be bothered by curious recruiters, and I knew that would happen if I divulged his name. After all, we recruiters are not a shy lot.

Robocruiter called because he had committed to a speaking engagement, and since he knows that I do a lot of training and stand-up presentations, he wanted to ask me some technical public speaking questions. We talked about speaking, and then our conversation moved into the recruitment training arena.

I told him that his concept of “The Total Account Executive” (AE) was one of my favorite topics. I also said that over the years, I have taught so much of what I learned from him that I couldn’t tell where he left off and I began. He thanked me and we went our separate ways.

Definition of the “Total Account Executive”

“The Total Account Executive” is a recruiter who uses everything they have available emotionally, mentally, physically and psychologically toward reaching the goal of a peak performer. It includes, but is not limited to, their attitude, commitment, discipline and intensity on their desk, knowledge and application of the basics of our industry, planning, follow through, willingness to grow and advance in our industry, and willingness to see themselves as a professional in this business.

Commitment is key

In our profession (as in most true professions), commitment is the key. If there is no commitment, then the AE will not feel entitled to ask for, nor receive, the information that they must get from both the client and the candidate in order to be successful. And it is our responsibility to our industry to be as successful as we can possibly be. If we don’t get that information, we will develop execution deficiencies.

The recruiter and the doctor

Let’s compare us with a doctor—someone who we all would agree is a total professional. That doctor is committed to helping us gain back our proper health. They are knowledgeable in their industry. We go to the doctor when we have a medical problem. We have an ache or a pain or we need surgery. So we go into the doctor’s office and fill out all of their forms. Then the nurse takes us to an examining room and the doctor comes in an asks us all sorts of questions.

He gets the facts from us. He goes into great detail. Now, we don’t question him. We acknowledge that he controls the procedure. He expects us to give him all of the facts. And only when he gets all of that information, does he feel comfortable in treating us.

We recruiters are just like that doctor. We have to be committed to excellence in our business just like that doctor. Always keep in mind that our client’s people are the life blood of their company. When they have problems—an opening or a difficult slot to fill—they come to us and ask for our help. Don’t let our hiring managers tell us how to do our business. We are the experts (just like that doctor) and we establish that procedure (just like that doctor).

Just like that doctor, we want open and honest communication with our clients. We would be considered “quacks” if we took minimal information and then tried to do a serious procedure. The key here is this: We can’t be responsible for the results if we don’t have control over the procedure.

We must educate our hiring managers to conduct the recruitment procedure our way because it is in their best interests to do so—and it truly is! If you are going to worry, worry about being respected first—not being liked first.

If you are respected, the client will eventually like you . . . that will come.

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Bob Marshall of TBMG International, founder of The Marshall Plan, has an extensive background in the recruiting industry as a recruiter, manager, vice president, president, consultant, and trainer. In 2015, Marshall is celebrating his 35th year in the recruiting business. He can be reached at or at 770.898.5550. Marshall’s website is

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