Would you borrow $12K knowing you had to pay back $150 – $300K?

Of course you wouldn’t! That would be out of the question in anyone’s opinion, right? Well – that’s exactly what you are going to do when you go to work for another agency.

Sounds absurd, doesn’t it? Believe it or not that is happening throughout the staffing world! As the economy rebounds and jobs start opening up – many recruiters are now looking at either changing agencies or getting back into recruiting from being off for a while.

Let me be clear: When you get hired into an agency you are expected to generate business. In most cases you’ll be expected to go find an opening and then fill it. That’s what we do. There is no magic box awaiting you at your new desk. Probably a computer, a phone and a few new pens. YOU are the one bringing the magic!

So there you are. Let’s say you have a reasonable draw. $4k would be a good starting point. So you dive in – ready to make something happen. By the end of your first month you have a few sendouts. Ending the second month you’ve probably got a placement or two in the pipleline. By the end of the 3rd month you’ve made a placement and are heading toward your next. Right? You bet I am.

But what if you don’t have anything happening? You’ll be canned. You didn’t bring the magic. Your desk will be cleaned out and another hopeful staffer will be brought in to replace you. And you get to go try again.

What I’m getting at is this. You HAVE TO MAKE A PLACEMENT EITHER WAY! Get it? So why borrow 10-12 thousand dollars to get started when you will then be paying back 50-60% of every placement you make for eternity? See the math here? Over the course of 2, 3, 4 years just look at how much money you will be paying back for the initial loan to get started? The numbers are staggering!

When I got my start in recruiting (1987) it would have been impossible to start working for myself. There was no internet. Boolean strings were not a common term being thrown around. Client names were found only in the Harris Directory and what we called the Blue Book. Our database was a giant cluster of drawers filled with candidate folders. You HAD to be with an agency. There was just no way around it. And the phone bills? Outrageous!

It is such a wide open world now. Everything you could want is right at your fingertips. Candidates, company names, no long distance charges – you name it. If you’ve been in recruiting a few years and are looking for something new you should consider becoming an independent recruiter. Do yourself a HUGE favor – hire yourself!

 

The Journey

The Road to Success
The Road to Success

Click the image for a larger view – you’ll love the details!

One of the first motivational images I have from early in my career is this poster.  I’m quite surprised to have found it!  I’ll be having a copy made to once again adorn my office wall.

Take a look.  Perhaps it will offer you the same thoughtful reflection I have needed at times.  You’ll see that anyone can get started.  There is no gate or entry fee.  Simply step forward and cross the line of opportunity and you’re on your way!  Now for some it might be a little easier – perhaps they were dropped off at the front door by their rich uncle or had a friend pull them by the arm.  Either way – at least in the USA – the door of opportunity is really not even a door.  It’s a wide open path inviting us all!

You can see the people – eager for their share of success – begin running once they have started their journey.  Right off the bat though there are distractions.  Bohemianism looks like an easy destination.  Just off to the right there – right inside the gate.  It looks like a great time for sure!

On the left there is the Right System.  It looks like quite a few can start right there – stay on the train and make it to the top of the hill.  Kinda makes me wonder why more people don’t just do that right off the bat.  Get your hands on a reputable system and stick with it.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  But as you see – the temptations only get stronger the further up the hill you go.

Hotel Know it All?  I’ll admit to have spent a few nights there.  Look at the other hangouts.  The Always Right Club.  Can you imaging the conversation going on in there?  Wow!  I don’t need to practice? Nobody can tell me!  Sound familiar?

Check out the Hand of Vices reaching out, grabbing people and dragging them into the River of Failure.   How about the Hot Air Balloon ride?  Or how Lack of Preparation is a giant hill – but you could bypass it simply by doing the work?

I hope this poster can inspire you the way it inspired me years ago.  It’s not easy getting to the top – and much harder staying there.  So watch out for the pitfalls.  They’re everywhere!

Recruiters – Take a CUE From Your Clients

Wondering where to spend your time?  Take a CUE from your clients!

When we get to the heart of things in the recruiting world – it ends up being all about managing our most precious resource – TIME.  Let’s assume you’ve got to make a choice on where to spend the majority of your efforts and have several possible clients to choose from.

C is for COOPERATION.  It is vital for my client and I to share openly and clearly exactly what is going on at all times.  This is not a game to me – and though I enjoy playing hide and seek with my children my clients need to take my call.  I need to be able to discuss the specifics of the opening with the person who is actually hiring for their team.  When a candidate has a question I’d like to pick up the phone and have a discussion with my client contact.  Look for signs of cooperation before going too far down the wrong road.  Send them your fee statement and expect a signed/returned copy before going any further.

U is for URGENCY.  Having a fully cooperative client is a great start but we also must have a client who NEEDS to hire relatively soon.  Without a specific reason to fill the opening the process can often drag on for months at a time.  Don’t get me wrong – knowing of a company that will be hiring 3 months from now is awesome – but you’re not sending them an invoice within the next few weeks. So make sure to fully understand when/why/how they are going to be hiring IN THE FUTURE and move on.  Please don’t think for a minute this means we are looking for “desperate” clients.  Desperation to me suggests problems just under the surface.  The key is being able to discern the difference.

E is for EXPECTATION.  What are they looking for?  Is this person even out there?  Is the salary range right? Is the work itself a reasonable expectation for the new employee? Will they pay for relocation if needed?  What about your fee?  Hopefully they don’t expect you to work at an unrealistic rate.  What kind of interviewing process do they have?  I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve run into an interviewing process so riddled with tests, psych evaluations, 3 and 4 interviews, group lunch meetings, etc.  Those processes are not impossible – but they’re clearly not optimal either.

The above are just the tip of the iceberg in each category .  You know what you need to be successful.  Take a CUE from your clients and THEN decide where to spend your time!  Can you check off the C?  The U? The E?  If yes then you’ve got a great place to start.  If no then you know what you need to work on before moving ahead.

People lie. You know that. Don’t you?

Polygraph
Polygraph
Changing jobs is tough on people. They’re usually not comfortable with it – no matter how caring, transparent and helpful you are. Quite often the very people who say they’re interested decide during the process it is easier to lie to you than face their fears.

Sure – the thought of a new desk, brand new company and a clean start are appealing. We all enjoy being wanted. It’s human nature. But once we begin moving from theory (talking about a change) and into reality (you have an interview this Thursday) people begin second guessing things……and they will make up all sorts of excuses to slow things down. They don’t want to tell you what is really on their minds – they’d rather make up a convenient/plausible story as to why they need to “do it later”…….

Why do I bring this up? Simple. I will not ever reschedule an interview once it’s on the books. Period. And I’ll tell you why. After tracking every bit of activity on my recruiting desk one thing became clear – I never placed anyone that had their interview rescheduled. While I have no scientific evidence as to why this is the case I do have some ideas.

When an interview is on the books – and my candidate calls to reschedule I tell them in no uncertain terms: Nope. Either you find a way to make it happen or I’ll tell the client you’re not interested.

I then go on to explain to them exactly why. I let them know the chances of a rescheduled interview turning into a hire are very near zero. If they truly are interested then they need to make the appointment.

Do this. You’ll be surprised at what you find. Once you confirm your position as the professional in the situation – you can have the REAL discussion. This is when the true concerns are brought to the table. It’s a delicate conversation – but one that must occur.

Note: Once I realized this simple fact (roughly 5 or 6 years ago) I stopped rescheduling interviews. Could I have overlooked a placement or two? Possibly, but that’s the risk I decided to take.

(ORIGINALLY POSTED IN 2009 – But Some Facts Never Change……)

I Don’t Work with HR….

I don’t work with HR – and I have the Little Mrs. wait in the car while I go into the bank and talk about the important stuff.

How old are you?  Where have you been the past decade?  Watching All in the Family reruns every night?  They call me old school – but I’m starting to wonder if I no longer deserve that label.  Perhaps you’re the one more deserving…….

Don’t work with HR?  What clients do you work with?  The mechanic down the street?  Your cousin’s Insurance agency?  Most companies large enough to use agencies are also sophisticated enough to involve HR in some capacity.  Now I’ll agree – some of those processes are just a mess and I won’t be successful.  But how do you know which is which until you check it out?

Yes there was a time when hearing “You’ll need to talk to HR” meant “See ya later!” but those times have changed.  HR is most likely the department that can shut you down or welcome you to the mission.  I prefer to think of them as the next (or even the first) step in securing a new client.

So when I see recruiters touting the old wives’ tale we were taught decades ago I just have to chuckle a bit.  Throw in the “Well – if we can’t recruit for ya the way we know best – we’ll just have to recruit from ya!” line and you’ve got a real winning business plan! (Not!)

Well that’s all I have on the subject for now……Gotta call an HR guy to see if we can wrap one up this week!

Are you a good fit for this job?

Who – me? You’re asking me if I’m a good fit for your job?

Well gimme a minute. You know what I do, right? I’m a recruiter! Nearly every person who follows you is a recruiter, resume coach, PR firm, ATS guy or HR lady. This is one giant fishbowl of people who DO NOT do what your client needs. So why do you keep up the exercise?

Remember waaaaaaaayyyy back a few years ago before social media? Remember how you actually had to put together a presentation? You know – a list of features and benefits? A general summary of reasons your prospect MIGHT want to consider your opportunity? Remember when the goal was to connect with people who know the skills your client is looking for? Remember the phrase “Say what you need to say to people you need to say it to?”

Did that just go out the window? Is “sales” no longer in style? Has anybody (ANYBODY) replied to your job tweets? Ever? Really? (Don’t fib now – it’s just you and me talking here…..)

My guess is no. This is not your “Talent Community.” It’s a Social Media Mutual Admiration Society. We do not know anyone who does what you are looking for.

And by they way – before you go on and on about how careful you’ve been about your follow list…..I looked. There’s not a single (fill in the blank) on your list. Or at least in the last hundred of so people that are following you. They’re all guys and gals like me…..and you. It’s us here – not them!

If someone on your list just happens to be a…….C++ Embedded SW Eng in NYC….here’s an idea. Call them. Get to know them! Why just throw out a random tweet or FB update hoping it happens to cross their newsfeed at exactly the same moment in time their eyes are looking at the screen? I mean – you don’t think they’ve got you set up with your own Tweetdeck column, do you? Just hoping, PRAYING that some point in the near future you’ll randomly tweet “Are you a good fit for this job” in front of a list of buzzwords tailored just for them….do you?

So why are you still doing it? Does it make you feel better? Like – you’re really working here? Like – this is business?

Here’s a tip for you – it’s not. You’re wasting your time. “Are you a fit for this job?” is not business – it’s a joke.

Get it? You’ve been had.

Choices….

Choices….

As a small agency – we find ourselves in an interesting “predicament” at the moment: Which assignments should we work on? Now while I’m personally overjoyed with the opportunities at hand – I’ve got to make some tough decisions here.

Normally the clients that get our attention are the ones with the highest CUE ratings. For those that haven’t heard of it – CUE is pretty simple. We look at three things: Cooperation, Urgency and Expectation. When one of these areas is lacking it makes the decision pretty easy. In fact – without either cooperation, a need to hire NOW or a realistic expectation of salary vs. skills vs. availability – it’s nearly impossible to be successful.

But what do we do when there are several clients who need to hire NOW and offer every bit of cooperation we could hope for – combined with having realistic expecations of the talent available?

I’m in a quandary……

So as I’ve thought about our situation this morning I’ve come to the realization that another level of criteria needs to join the CUE. I’m going to add an “S”: Strategic.

What placements (if made) offer the biggest strategic impact for the future? How should we look at this? Multiple hires? Is this client in a marketplace that is expanding? If they are contract roles – which ones should last longer? Are there any critical hires that would help us strengthen our role with the client? What about recruiting on the positions in HR? Or for the leadership team…..placements which may offer a stronger client relationship in the future?

Oh my. So many things to consider. I love this profession!

Thoughts anyone?

A word about one of the best recruiters I’ve ever met……

Her name is Holly. In all my years of recruiting she has been one of the (very) few who is somehow able to come up with a great candidate for any position – anywhere – any time. She’s been a partner for quite a while – and on our team full time since the beginning of last year.

I wanted to just take a minute and give her the recognition she deserves. Here is a quick rundown of what she’s been able to accomplish in just the past month or so. Note: This is by no means her entire contribution – just some highlights!

We’ve been working quite a few searches for one of the more “discerning” clients to cross my desk in years. We’ve been hunting for an HR Manger in Southern Wisconsin for months. Many more months that I personally would have wanted to stick with it. But Holly doesn’t give up! Our client’s new HR Manager starts on the 14th. Thank you Holly!

Last week another client gave us a 48 hour exclusive for a PLC Software Contractor. I’ve never placed anyone in that field – neither has Holly……that is….until this morning! Her guy started at 9 am today. Thank you Holly!

In January a dear friend and split partner asked for our help in another area – a Computational Linguistics/Machine Learning Software Researcher. Are you kidding me? What is that? I still have no idea. But guess who does? Holly! Her guy starts in a few weeks. Thank you Holly!

Not impressed yet? Well – how about the call I got during the Animal show last week. A new client needed some immediate PC/Networking help for a few months. They need someone to start right away. After describing our service – (wherein the resume also has a play button on the top – and he will be listening to the candidate describe his/her background while he reviews the resume) – he was looking forward to hearing someone describe their experience fixing printers, working with Group Policy and their background with Windows 2003 and 2008.

Guess what? Within 3 hours he was listening to a fully qualified and interested technician describe the exact experience and background he is looking for. They’ll be interviewing tomorrow at 9 am.

Thank you VERY MUCH Holly!

A Word on Split Placements and the Continuity of the Close

Just a quick thought here for us split recruiters. Once the handoff has taken place – it is very important to let the recruiter who is working directly with the client also be the one who the candidate talks to.

Why is this? I have found the phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen” is quite applicable. If another cook comes in, tastes the soup and decides to add a pinch of this and that…..cook number one has no idea what was put into his dish.

Bringing this analogy to a split placement is quite simple. Closing is a series of discussions – all based in part on the previous discussion. If you introduce a candidate to me and I am working on a sendout (or offer) – I need to be the one keeping all concerns/questions on one page. If you jump into the middle just to “see how things are going” you are breaking the continuity of dialogue.

Perhaps the candidate tells you something important – but you forget to tell me. What then?

Chances are I’m in a better position to address questions about my client than you. What happens when you make a few assumptions – just trying to keep things moving ahead – and those assumptions are inaccurate? Yet the candidate feels that “since he talked to one of us about it” then it’s been covered.

The reasons to keep continuity with one person are far too many to list here. Just wanted to throw the topic out here for discussion……

Congratulations. You’ve made it to the starting line!

I have received calls from several (which means more than 2) recruiters these past few weeks. All had the same general questions for me: How’s business? Is the worst over? Have any job orders? What’s it like in your market? Is it safe to jump back in the water?

I’ve got news for you. Unless you plan to do something different to compete “this time around” you may as well hang it up!

So you were a big hit in the recruiting world before this whole thing crashed, eh? Made lots of money? Big deal. We all did! I’ve got news for you – it wasn’t you. It was the market. The mad skillz you thought you had were hardly unique. Post your job, sort through some resumes, blast them over (to the client that emailed you the job req) and make a placement. Life was simple enough. Life was good.

Guess what pal? That’s not gonna fly this time around. The game has changed. You better bring a different level of service.You don’t get to play this time unless you do something that sets you apart from the hordes of hopeful staffers wanting to jump back on the gravy train. So you better think about it.

Does your presentation sound exactly like the recruiter who called just before you? Will the recruiter calling “your client” have something a little more unique to offer? Are you better? Can you be? Will you be?

Sorry to bring you down – since you’re feeling pretty good having somehow survived the downturn. You feel the tough part is over – and you may be right. But some of you sense that you’ve somehow won the race……and you haven’t. You’ve merely survived long enough to compete again.

We’re starting a new race. You’re at the starting line. Look to your left – see them all? Look to your right – the competition is hungry!

Runners ready? On your mark. Get set. GO!