Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Insuring your 2010 is the best it can be...5 Questions

It's that time of year again...We look forward to quickly forgetting what happened in 2009 and look for a bigger, brighter, happier, more rewarding 2010.

I love this time of year, because I get a chance to socialize with more people at holiday get togethers. I like talking to people I dont know and asking them questions to see what makes them tick. What is motivating them. Once I get to know someone new, I will start to ask some deep questions. The questions are not that profound, however the looks I get are very interesting. The questions usually center around goals and what they want out of life. I am trying to find out if they have them...for one. But also I am trying to understand if they know what they want out of life. To spare you the details, the answers are not specific and come down to "I just want to be happy". Or by achieving this, ultimately "I will be happy."

And you wonder why drug abuse and alcohol abuse is rampant today. Its the quickest and easiest way to get someone to a temporary happy.

But if we want to really be a useful member of society, not have the negative affects of drug or alcohol - Research has found that the way to achieve happiness, is the pursuit of a worthwile goal or goals. After two years of a bad knee and getting that repaired, I started training to start competing again in the Masters series of track and field. The event being pole vaulting. Now having to lose 26 lbs is no fun. I really dont like getting up early to work out at 5:00am every day either. But i have very specific goals set. The interesting thing is I feel great. I am in a better mood. I feel more passionate about life. It is affecting every area of my life - for the better. Here's the secret. It's the pursuit of your defined goals that will get you to that long term Happy.

As many of us know and have heard before - we need to set goals. As the new year approaches, this is as good a time as any to start planning your success for 2010. We need to create that road map that will bring us to prosperity and bring us all of our hopes and dreams that somehow alluded us in 09.

But, before we do however, there are some specific questions we need to ask ourselves. Questions that will put us in the right state of mind - to be able to set very POWERFUL goals with the horsepower behind them to achieve them - in the face of any obstacle. I know it sounds a little heavy....but trust me. Write these down and spend a good 30 minutes on each question. Internalize them. Get them attached to the core of your being.

Question 1.

What were my successes in 2009?

By taking stock of what went well last year, it will help you realize that the year might have been a better year than you thought. For me for instance - it made me realize the obvious successes that I achieved with hiring the right people as well as new accounts we brought in. Feel good about your successes - even celebrate.

Question 2.

What were some of my shortcomings in 2009?

We know what we did well. Now lets take a look at what didn't go as well as planned. Why not? Was it something you did? Something you did not do? Was it the economy? Or was it the decisions you did not make - that caused you the shortcomings? Did you not make the change fast enough? If you find your self blaming something or someone else, go back and ask those questions to yourself.
Then once you got these down...

Question 3.

What Can I learn from 2009?

Along with this question is this one - "What three things personally and three things professionally that if I can change today , will significantly impact my life for the better." Many of us could go on with more the three, but three will be enough - if they are the most important ones. These are the things you need to put on the top of your list - and take action on today. Action to change these three things - so 2010 can be rid of the distractions that will keep you from your potential.

Question 4.

What am I truly Grateful for in my life?

When goal setting you need to keep in the forefront of your mind what is most important to you. By taking a look at what you are grateful for, you can make sure your goals are consistent with whats most important to you. Goals that are not congruent with what is most important to you - tend to be self defeating. You don't want to just win the battle, but ultimately end up losing the war. For example - if one of your goals is to get more customers all over the us, however it will take you away from your family more often - we may need to rethink that strategy. Sit back. Reflect. Smile....Isn't it such a great feeling to focus on what you are grateful for..

Question 5.

What is my Why?

Probably the most important question of all. Your "Why" is the how come I get up in the morning. Its the thing that drives you. Its what you are passionate about. Its what you are excited, enthusiastic about in life. It's what you will climb any mountain for - walk through a brick wall for - or even take a bullet for. It could be an event, a person, or purpose. If you can develop and internalize that powerful "WHY" the how will be.....easy.

The "Why" that drove me to obtain my goals early in my career was an event that happened about 23 years ago. I had alot going on in life all at once. I had built our first house, had two new cars and my wife and I had our daughter Danielle. About three months after our daughter was born - I decided to take another job. Great company - but it was 100% commission. Everything was fine until about three months in - the economy slowed and so did the commission checks. When Danielles 6 month shots were due, I didn't have the money to get her - her six month shots. I only needed a few hundred bucks - but the thought of not having $200.00 for her six months shots bothered me. I couldn't sleep. "I didn't have enough money to get my Daughter basic health care!" That event drove me to achieve things that I might have not achieved if that didn't happen. I became the companies top rep, got promoted and that event was the beginning of an unbelievable career.

Your "Why" is always the most powerful when it is NOT about you. If you can figure out your "Why"....the rest will be a given.

By answering these five questions and really internalize them, you will be well on your way to making 2010 your best year yet.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Magic of Metrics.......

I hear it all the time.

Recruiters ask, “What is the one thing I can do to hit it big?”

Managers say, “Can a hopeless wannabe transform into a superstar?”

Like rubbing the jeweled bottle and waiting for a genie to pop out we hope someone, or something, will grant our wishes. But recruiters are lucky. Because in our industry, there is a magic answer. It is metrics.

Hitting your metrics’ targets is the single most important success factor in executive recruiting. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new recruiter struggling to make your first placement, or a million-dollar producer striving to become a multi-million dollar record breaker: metrics work career magic.

When I look at a recruiter’s numbers, whether one of my employees, a peer, or a client in my executive coaching program, I can tell if they are going to win big or fail miserably. There are many measurements out there, but 20 percent of the metrics get 80 percent of the results.

Quantity and Quality Metrics are the primary indicators I can utilize to help recruiters improve overnight. Quantity Metrics are the raw numbers you must hit on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. By keeping a close eye on your quantity, you will never have an unpleasant surprise at the end of the month. You will know if you have the sustained volume of activity to meet your goals. Quality Metrics are ratios, numbers that don’t lie. They tell us how good we are at what we do.

Quantity Metrics.
Time is money. In our industry it is the absolute. A successful recruiter has got to have quantity, the hours on the phone, to earn. Four is the lucky number. If you have four hours per day of phone connect time, you have enough time in the marketplace to be successful. If you don’t, chances are you won’t meet your goals.

I know there are recruiters reading this thinking, “I bring in $500,000 annually and I am only on the phone two hours a day. I don’t need to make any more calls.”

Admittedly, with high numbers and low phone time, there is strong quality in the work being done. But if a recruiter has been getting by on two hours a day, imagine what could be gained with four hours of daily connect time. Doubled productivity and income? If you don’t have the discipline of strict time management, you simply aren’t realizing your potential. What are you doing the other six hours per day?

In a strong market, recruiters may be able to get away with limited phone time. We call it a false positive—the ability to get significant results in under four hours a day. Because while it may work when the economy is humming, it will not when the market turns, or a recession occurs. Develop a four-hour-a-day habit now, so you won’t go out of business like half the industry did in 2002.

As Kathy Lonneman, a long-time manager with the MRI Network said, “ Imagine you own a retail store in a prime location. Obviously you want your store open as many hours as possible to get customers to come in and buy from you. Recruiting is no different. When you are on the phone, you are open for business. When you are off the phone, your store is closed.”

Does your store have the operating hours to be successful? Are you open long enough to serve your customers?

I’ve employed and coached hundreds of recruiters. I’ve seen too many people try to hide behind sheer call volume. It is the measured Market Connect Hours – the time on the phone with the people who have the power to get you closer to a placement—that count. Hours worked, number of phone calls made, time spent chatting with your buddies, repeatedly checking your voicemail, these aren’t the meaningful connections with professionals who matter. For real success, limit the $5 activities like data entry, and increase the revenue-generating phone time with customers and candidates.

Planning is critical to productive phone time. To hit four hours, most people need to make in excess of 100 calls over the course of the workday. It’s about focus. Stay on the phones. Don’t sift through emails or get distracted by office chatter. It takes hard work, but those who plan well and stick to high-value activities will reap the rewards.

Although there are other key quantity metrics including New Market and Candidate Presentations, Job Orders, Job Orders converted to Search Assignments, Employer Presentations, Send Outs and Placements, Market Connect Hours is the single, most crucial metric to recruiting success.

If you don’t have call-accounting software – get it now. Measuring connect hours is the most critical metric of them all. Not knowing these numbers is like a professional ball player not keeping his stats, a no-win situation.

Quality Metrics.
The time spent in the marketplace paying your dues and building relationships is vital. Quality grows from experience and quantity. The key quality measurements are: Dollars Earned per Market Connect Hour, Job Order to Placement Ratio, Employer Presentation to Send Out Ratio, and New Market Presentation to Employer Presentation Ratio, and most importantly, First Time Send-Out to Placement Ratio

Your FTSP Ratio reveals the quality of your search assignment or job order, and the quality of your candidates. There is not a more important ratio in recruiting. The lower your ratio, the higher your earnings.

High ratios can be due to a poor understanding of your client’s needs (bad job order) or unsuitable candidates. For beginning recruiters, it can be both. I have seen ratios as high as 50:1… 50 first-time send outs to one placement! Those are odds I wouldn’t accept. On the reverse side I have seen 2:1 ratios. These are the rare individuals who have developed a true understanding of their clients’ corporate culture and hiring needs. They only present the right talent to the right people… quality built on time in the marketplace.

To improve your ratios, define the search. Only work with well-developed job orders. If they aren’t that way, get them that way. Every search assignment should have a high sense of urgency, clear specifications, and realistic client expectations. When evaluating a potential send out, determine if the candidate matches the client’s specification exactly? 90%? 80%?

If you’ve done your homework and you’re still failing with a high ratio, call the client and re-qualify the search. Take a second look at your candidate’s skills and personality. If you have a client who demands to interview more than three candidates per search, you need to reset expectations. You may want to try something like this, “I’ve sent you the best three out of hundreds of candidates we qualified. You’ve seen the A players, which of the B and C players do you want to see next?”

The value a recruiter brings to a client is only as strong as the talent he brings on board. That is why understanding and applying metrics, objective evaluations of professional time and skills, is so important.

If your company measures the critical Quantity and Quality Metrics, success is yours for the taking. Recruiters who are part of the MRI Network can utilize PT Webb, a free service for network members. For those operating outside of the network, I strongly recommend a subscription to the Lock On Report™, www.lockonreport.com . The Lock-On Report™ has helped hundreds of recruiters go from average to good, and good to great. It is time tested and an excellent resource for any recruiter or recruiting manager.

Essentially, our profession is a science. Those who have the phone time and the excellent ratios, earn the money. But market-connect hours and FTSP ratio metrics can work real recruiting magic. Minding your metrics will help you meet your career goals, and master the science of recruiting.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Is it time for a change?

For the last four weeks, my wife and I moved our home and all of our belongings of 14 years to our farm about 20 miles away in Waynesville, OH. You would be surprised what you accumulate over a decade in one place. We didn't hire movers. Pretty much every day for the last six weeks or so, we loaded up the SUV with trailer in tow - and hauled our shtuff the 20+ miles and unloaded. We also made several trips to GoodWill and one ugly garage sale weekend. This is probably why I haven't written in this blog in a few weeks.

Was it painful? Extremely. I was not looking forward to loading and unloading that Vehicle everyday after work and every weekend. I would have much rather went golfing, fishing, horse back riding or anything else. Change is painful and sometimes it down-right hurts. Was it worth it?............

Absolutely. This morning I woke up, went to my home office -called the fishing room- and worked on my daily plan as I overlooked my 7.5 acre lake. The geese were active at 6:00am trolling around while the large mouth bass were feeding on bugs on the surface as a little bit of fog was subsiding. Wow..... Well worth it. It's like I am on a vacation everytime I am now home - on the farm. Now I dont want to go to work, which is another problem all together.

Change for most people is difficult. During tough times like these we in the recruting field need to change in order to increase our success or even survive. What are some things we need to potentially change? Lets start with what you are focused on..

Questions to ask yourself if you are Focused:

- Am I focused on the right markets, companies, postions within. Do I need to change my attack strategy?

- Am I focused on right activity that result in Search Assignments, job orders, quality candidates, Sendouts and obviously placements?

- Am I planning everyday for success or do I need some help or time spent on planning?

- Am I personally focused on the right things personally - Attitude, people I hang with, goal oriented ?

- Am I a person who gives and brightens everyone you talk to? Or are you finding yourself commisserating and bringing everone else down? Are you a giver of light or a taker? There are two kinds of people in this world.

Now is the time for a self evaluation - and postive change. Write the areas down that need some positive change and set goals on how you will change them. Even though the economy is not doing well, you can be. There are many recruiters that will have a record year this year - who won't pay attention to the media, who will make their daily marketing calls with "A" players and will continue to be the bright spot in the doom and gloom. Do you want to be that person?

Maybe then, its time for a change.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why your clients need you NOW more than ever...and the Serpeant of "C" Talent

You are hearing the same thing I am. "We are not using agencies this year", or "We are using internal resources instead of using recruiters". Most of the time when you get down to the brass tax - budgets are being cut and one of the first things to go - is the recruiting budget.

Before we shed a tear and decide to change industries or even professions - lets take a hard look at the impact this will have on your clients organization.

For a company trying to be cost conscious and remain competitive in a tight market, they will still need exceptional talent this year. Our clients and prospective organizations will have key players leave and quickly following that event will be an urgent need to replace them. Bottom line - they will have to be doing some type of recruiting activities. Maybe not to the extent that they did a year ago, but they will have the need for great talent and will .

How will they go about finding the "Exceptional Talent" that the need? More than 90% of your client companies will be using Job Boards, Employee Referrals and Company Website postings. Mainly Job Boards.

Be rest assured, there will be NO proactive searches being done in HR Organizations. First - they don't have time to do direct recruiting activities due to other duties, but most dont have a clue how to direct recruit if they did had the time.

Of the recruiting activities, the most popular will be placing ads on job boards. All the individuals who were down sized from every other organization in that industry- will be responding to the ads.

Question: How many companies down size their top people? OR... How many companies let go their "A" players who perform at the highest level and pull most of the load?

Answer: NONE of them

Oh you hear stories of a whole division being gone. Yes that may happen - once in a life time. But most organizations let go their bottom 10-15% of people in every major down sizing. They can do this in every department in an organization as well. So what does this mean?

Your clients job board ads will be answered by the individuals who were downsized - the bottom 10-15% - of the workforce. They will be trying to choose the best from the worst of the talent in the market. If they see six "C" players (Bottom 10%) individuals and then finally see a "B" player. They will hire them. They will also think their process is working fine. Unfortuantely, that hire will end up a statistic. Peter Drucker said "66% of a companies hiring decisions will prove to be mistakes within the first 12 months."Brad Smart - author of Topgrading - says 50% of all hires companies make are mishires.

If your clients continue to hire "B" and "C" players to fill critical positions - their competitiveness will be severely handicapped not only now, but also as the recession subsides and the economy starts taking off.

Conversely, if they worked with professional search consultants, their outcome could be substantially different. What professional Search consultants do - is work with the "A" players, those individuals who are hidden to Job Board Advertising because they are achieving high goals and results for a competitive company. Instead of making poor hiring decisions from choosing the best potential talent from the worst available, they would be choosing the best talent, from the best in the market. The "A" players, the top 10% in a given market.

Lets go one step further. If Dr. Brad Smart in his HR blockbuster book "Topgrading" is correct, a mishire will cost 18-24X the individuals salary. So if they on board a "C" player at 100K per year, the actual cost of that mishire will be 1,800,000 at a minimum. That includes - the cost of their salary, their training, the damage they caused and .....the opportunity cost of not having an "A" player who would have achieved the specific objectives set up initially.

This is by the way.. American Businesses most costliest problem. Mishires.

So what are we to do - as professional search consultants???

Simple - share this with your clients. Dont allow them to be bitten by the Serpeant of "C" talent and let their organization suffer. Organizations filled with "C" talent quickly lose market share, "A" players leave, goals go unmet and the future becomes bleak. You need to do whatever it takes to insure your clients do not get bitten by the serpeant of "C" players. Educate your clients on the talent market and what you will do to protect them and their entire organization.

Good luck.. Your clients business future is resting on your shoulders. Only you can save them.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Real Unemployment Rate....What the media doesn't want you to know

The Media has said it for months now. The sky fell and is continuing to fall. Unemployment is at record levels and more people joined unemployment lines in the month of March 2009 more than any other month since 1927.

Is it time to panic? Is it time to sell what little stock we have in the market? No its time to really understand what the REAL unemployment rate is - specifically for us professionals in the search game.

Lets talk about the real unemployment rate by taking a hard look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics report the government puts out every single month. Here is what it said the first week of April 2009 based on March figures.

Go to http://www.bls.gov/
Click on the "Employment" Tab at the left
Go to "Employment Situation" Report at the bottom of page
Go to bottom of report for addeneums
Click on "Table A-4. Employment status of the civilian population 25 years and over by educational attainment"

Lets take a close look at what it really says:

Less than a high school diploma Feb. 2009 March 2009
Unemployment rate........................ 12.6% 13.3%

High school graduates, no college (1)
Unemployment rate........................ 8.3% 9.0%

Some college or associate degree
Unemployment rate........................ 7.0% 7.2%

Bachelor's degree and higher (2)
Unemployment rate........................ 4.1% 4.3%

The unemployment rate has been raising from month to month as you can see. However, the bottom line - the higher the education someone has, the lower the unemployment by group. This is a great argument for parents wanting their kids to seek more education. Since most recruiters - bring on board individuals who have a bachelors degree or higher and they have at least a few years experience- the last category is the one that really matters. Even though we are at 8.5% unemployment as a country, our profession is dealing with recruiting in a close to full employment environment. Many economists would agree that 4% is full employment. There will always be individuals who are changing jobs, willing to stay home and watch Jerry Springer versus go to work. Come on, you know some of those folks like I do. Those numbes are only 4 out of a 100.

So how can we take this data and make a major impact on our business you say?

1. Educate your customers about the REAL unemployment numbers
2. Make sure they know, that the individuals who answer job postings are probably not the "A" players. The "A" players are gainfully employed and knocking the cover off the ball for one of their competitors. Invisible to Job Boards and HR functions. If they are only using internal HR and postings, they will be making hiring decisions on a substandard talent pool.
3. Know is the time they need YOU the most. Yes YOU. By using a professional search consultant, who talks to the "A" players daily, they can get access to the true "A" players by working with you. Yes YOU.

More information on the Laws of Talent forthcoming......

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Achieve more - In less time in Executive Search......Really?

Have you ever heard of sweat equity? I have a friend who talked about it constantly while he was building his business. If a co-worker was in the office (or in this case the car dealership) until 9 p.m. five nights a week, my friend had to be there until 11 p.m. seven nights a week. I have to admit, he made a decent living. In fact, he went on to run his own dealerships and to demand this same time commitment from his top employees. But when I look at his life, his divorce, at the kids’ activities he missed, the friends he ignored because he didn’t have time for them, I wonder if he still believes it was all worth it.

A few months agoa I had a chance to interview Sam Carpenter, author of Work the System, www.workthesystem.com . Work the System, due to be released in the next month or so, details how Sam found himself working 100 hours a week at his service business. But the hours weren’t turning into dollars. He was on the verge of bankruptcy. He could barely make pay roll. He was sleeping on a cot at his office. His business owned him.

Fast forward two years. Sam’s business is profitable and his workweek is down from 100 hours to—are you ready for this—two hours per week! Sam turned his business and his life around by solving one problem at a time. He put into place systems that worked. And he wrote a book about it. It’s a compelling story, and it made me think. Wouldn’t it be nice to spend more time with your kids, your spouse, your friends without feeling guilty? Is it possible to do more of the things we enjoy instead of feeling obligated to live at the office because we never accomplish enough?

The good news is that in Executive Recruiting, we can. You can get done what needs to be done in your professional life and still have time for a rewarding private life. I’m not going to tell you that, like Sam, you’ll be working two hours a week. But by doing things much the same way Sam did, by solving a few problems and enacting effective systems, recruiters can attain more success in less time. Here’s how.

Identify your time wasters
Time wasters are productivity killers. If you’re struggling with a task, it can invade your workday and steal precious time. Maybe you’re having trouble with your recruiting software. That could mean you’re spending a lot more time than you should on this process. Or maybe you avoid this essential part of your job completely. Both can lead to failure.

Successful recruiters must be courageous enough to name their weaknesses. Whether it is learning the technology tools, marketing, closing, qualifying… identify your problem area. Then determine if you can improve your performance through increased training or focus. If so, do what it takes to get better. If you can’t figure out a way to substantially improve your skills, it may be time to consider outsourcing the task. Is there someone in the office who is strong in your weakest area? Can you pay, trade, partner or barter with a colleague to handle the time waster for you so you can focus on that which you do well… and thereby increase your own productivity?

Identify high-value activities and spend more time on them
What are the high-value activities you perform every day? In recruiting, these usually involve client or candidate communication. Period. All the rest are low-value activities.

During selling time – which is typically 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with a noon lunch-break– successful recruiters are completely focused on high-value activities. They are not emailing friends, checking their voicemail every five minutes, talking about sports with their cubicle partner, or going to the break room 15 times a day. They are only concerned with high-value recruiting activities. To avoid the non-productivity trap, identify necessary low-value activities and schedule them for anytime prior to 8:30 a.m., after 5 p.m. or during your lunch break. Don’t let them eat away at your recruiting day.

Speaking of schedules…
The reason successful people like schedules is because THEY WORK. An efficient schedule is how the world operates efficiently. In recruiting it’s no different. An unplanned and unscheduled day is an unproductive day. An efficient, scheduled day yields gold. My office is run by the following basic schedule:

8:00 a.m. Arrive and check email and plan for the day
8:15 a.m. Morning meeting – entire office
8:45 a.m. Team meeting – individual markets
9:00 a.m. Hot calls – closes, interview debriefs, candidate presentations, search
assignments, etc.
9:30 a.m. Uninterrupted “A” Player marketing calls
11:30 a.m Return voice mails, read, send emails, get fee agreements sent to office
Noon Lunch
1:00 p.m. Hot calls that have developed from morning
1:30 p.m. Uninterrupted recruiting calls on job #1
3:00 p.m. Uninterrupted recruiting calls on job #2
4:00 p.m. Return phone calls, check email, afternoon debriefs and preps
4:30 p.m. Plan for next day

Note the uninterrupted call periods… your ticket to efficiency. They are essential to getting more done in less time. Safeguard them by putting your phone on “do not disturb” or having the office manager hold your calls during these periods.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your schedule, customizing it for maximum results. Whether you use our office’s plan or develop your own, when you stick to a daily schedule, you’ll be amazed at the increase in your productivity.

Hold yourself accountable for every minute
There are only so many hours in the day and if you don’t want to live at the office, you need to make the most of every minute. That means you need to make some tough decisions. To get more accomplished in less time, prioritize. Identify that which is worth your time each day, and that which is not. Throughout the day, evaluate whether or not you’re staying true to your high-value activities. Hold yourself accountable by asking, “Is this the best use of my time right now?” You may be surprised how much time you waste on low-value activities and how easy it is to turn that around quickly.

Realize what your time is worth
Time is money. When you waste an hour of selling time during the day, you are literally cheating yourself out of cash. Would you drive down the street throwing $20 bills out the car window? Based on an income of $50,000 a year, the recruiter who loses an hour a day to low-value activities might as well climb in his car and start throwing. At $50K a year, your time is worth $24 per hour, at 100K it’s $48 per hour and at 150K it’s $72 per hour. The next time you find yourself tempted to call a buddy during selling time, picture yourself throwing away your hard-earned cash. It can keep you focused.

Make technology work for you – not against you
The last five years have seen an explosion in technology that makes our job so much easier. Today’s recruiter has the potential to get more daily information faster than ever. Job aggregators, job alerts, news alerts, they are all readily available. Remember, every piece of knowledge about developments, trends and people in your market sets you apart. Make technology work for you. Here’s how:

Get the latest industry news – If you don’t have one, open a google or yahoo email account to receive news alerts based on target accounts, industries and key words.
Uncover potential job leads at the job aggregators, which are spider engines that go to all of the job boards. (www.simplyhired.com, www.indeed.com, www.just-posted.com, www.jobster.com ) If you haven’t, subscribe to them and sign up for job alerts. To research available jobs from company websites, try www.hound.com .
Let candidates come to you automatically by setting up candidate alerts on the job boards. The candidate alert brand for www.Monster.com can be found under SmartFind. They will come to your email as often as once per day.
Use the social network sites to your advantage. Sites like www.linkedin.com, www.myspace.com and www.facebook.com are social network sites that can help you find the hidden talent in a specific market. There are Social Network aggregators that can search multiple sites at once. www.wink.com is a good example. The new sites can give a recruiter the edge in finding the hidden talent in the marketplace.

By taking advantage of these systems, you allow technology to work for you, saving you valuable time and resources. Once a day—during non-selling time—check the results of these systems.

Being a great recruiter is all about making the most of every minute. Yet many in our profession won’t take the initiative to read this article, much less to enact these basic, but essential timesavers and problem solvers. These very simple systems of accountability can bring great rewards. Those of us who choose to adhere to a strict schedule and focus on high-value activities will find that like my guest Sam, it is possible to get more results in less time.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Successful Objection Handling - Specifically during a recession

We’re in the middle of it, folks. The toughest economy in decades. We hear it every day from prospective clients and longtime customers alike, “We have a hiring freeze” or “We are about to have a “RIF” (Reduction in Force)” or even “We’ll work with you, but only if you cut your fee.”

Today’s marketplace is not for the fainthearted. These are trying times in the recruiting world for those not fortunate enough to be deeply entrenched in the rare market unaffected by a struggling economy.

There is good news however. In a sort of Darwinian way, weak recruiters are going to remove themselves from the industry. The rest of us will stay and fight for our careers. It won’t be easy, but those of us who won’t accept defeat are going to make it happen. To do that, you’ll need to follow four rules of recruiting in a recession.

Each of the rules I’ve outlined below is essential in a tough, tough marketplace. The reality is you’re hearing a lot of client objections in this economy. You’ve got to have a strategy in place to deal with them. Those who master the art of recruiting in a recession will emerge from this economic downturn stronger and better at what they do. The recruiters who succeed today have so much to look forward to tomorrow!

Rule Number 1: Talk to the owner of the problem

Many times when we hear objections, we are not talking to the right people or the specific hiring manager who owns the problem. Our friends in HR are good at delivering the bad news. A great example: I got a call last month from one of an existing client’s HR Managers. He’d heard that the major ERP organizations were only paying flat $10K fees. And he wanted the same deal. His reasoning: if Oracle and HP can get away with it, why can’t my small software provider?

It’s a classic mistake and one I needed to correct. Right away I arranged a conference call with HR. I then began discussions with the Hiring Manager – who owned the problem. We talked about the difficulties he was having finding and acquiring top talent in his market. We defined the pain associated with sub par talent, the risks posed by tolerating a “C” player on a team that absolutely needed superstars. We never talked fee reduction. This was a conversation completely focused on one thing: identifying the ways in which we could find him better talent, more quickly.

Talking to the owner of the problem or the actual hiring manager increases your chances of working through the issues on the table. It isn’t about fees. It’s about people. HR may not feel the pain when a team is struggling to find top talent, but I think they like inflicting it sometimes!

Rule Number 2: Understand the problem

Sometimes I feel like I should tell people I’m a fulltime recruiter and a part-time psychologist. Because over the years I’ve realized that my clients need a lot more from me than a cursory knowledge of their hiring needs. Especially when times are tough, recruiters need to really understand their clients. The more we know them, and the deeper our understanding of what they are going through in this economy, the better we are positioned to help them.

Never forget. No economy changes this basic truth: all problems in business are people related. To identify what is really going on in an organization, get to the tertiary level of questioning.

For example, a client tells you her firm is putting into place a hiring freeze. You then ask the first question: “Why would you do that?” Your client explains there has been a slowdown in revenues lately. At this point, most recruiters would put their tails between their legs, and slink off to the next client hoping for better things. But that is exactly the wrong thing to do! Here is a chance to earn your stripes. Ask the secondary level of questioning. “Where are you seeing a shortfall in revenue? Is it a product, service or location?” The client tells you the shortfall in revenue is occurring mainly in the Southeast – which accounted for 33% of the company’s revenue in 2008. This is your chance… your tertiary level of questioning. Follow up with this: “Is there a problem with the product or service – or with your sales team in prospecting for new business?” There you have her. It isn’t that the product has failed. It’s the people failing the company in a tough economy. When you’ve subtly led the client to that inescapable conclusion, you’ve won. She may pause for a few seconds, give an uneasy laugh and say something like “Our product is still the best in the industry.”
Bingo. The truth will set you free.

By achieving the tertiary level of questioning on business issues, you will uncover realized and unrealized client needs. Like a psychologist helping a patient navigate through complex problems, unrealized (or latent) needs are what recruiters need to uncover. We must really understand our clients’ problems—today more than ever.

Rule Number 3: Show how you can add value—and eliminate the problem

Once you’ve identified the source of the problems troubling your client, you must show how you can add value. The truth in this economy is that while it’s easy to find average talent today, it’s still extremely difficult to find exceptional talent.

In extraordinary times, ordinary people don’t solve problems. “C” Players simply don’t have what it takes to help their teams triumph over the myriad of issues this economy creates for businesses. Luckily for us, that’s our specialty. We bring exceptional talent to our clients. That is how we add value, whatever the economy.

I recommend the following general script:

“Mr. Client, let me ask you a question. What we’re finding is that in today’s market average talent is everywhere, but exceptional talent is very difficult to find. Those are the individuals knocking the sales quotas down for your competitors in the Southeast. Here is my question…Since I talk to the “A” players in your market on a daily basis, would you like me to bring to your attention the top “A” players in the Southeast? The people who could quickly solve your revenue issues?”

With this simple paragraph, you’ve identified exactly the value you bring to the table, and how you directly solve customer problems. If you do this right, there can be no hiring-freeze objections. You bring exceptional talent to the table: the people who find a way to be successful in any economy. It’s a very clear choice: a team stuck with average players and failure or a team stacked with “A” players and thriving, whatever the economy! You are the one who can make that difference for them…

Rule Number 4: Spend more time getting good business

In a recession it’s not that there is no business to be had, it’s that unfortunately most of it is bad. When the economy is this tight, clients reduce fees, put multiple recruiters on a single search and delay hiring indefinitely. A successful recruiter’s goal is to get enough good business to eliminate the need to work on bad business. Bob Marshall came up with the Job Order Matrix a few years ago and it still is worth its weight in gold today. The Matrix itself poses a series of questions that rate a job. It distinguishes between great job orders or search assignments and those that need to be left alone. You can find this matrix on my website www.talentwinsonline.com/news.htm Take a look at it and get in the habit of using it. It can make or break you in 2009.

To acquire more good business, increase your marketing time. It isn’t enough to market a few hours a day; you’ve got to invest serious time every day to get good business.

Marketing time is based on the number “A” search assignments you have and your unique marketplace. If you are going to take a true “A” player to market into your prospect and client base, you will have a lot more success than other marketing techniques today. My rule of thumb – if you don’t have enough “A” search assignments to hit your numbers for the next three months, then increase your marketing time.

Times are tough. Every industry in our country is facing challenges. But I like to tell my staff that strong winds make strong trees. With every day that passes, we are one day closer to a better economy. And when we emerge from this storm, we will have the improved skills and increased professional confidence born of experience.

More importantly, our clients need us. Don’t let them stop you from helping them make it through this recession. We will all benefit from doing our jobs the best we can, even in a challenging economy.