We have seen the enemy
By Bill Radin

During a recent webinar, Ami Givertz reminded his attendees that in your comfort zone there's no learning, and in learning there's no comfort zone.

I couldn't agree more. The painful truth is that when faced with adversity—such as a recession or a dip in the job market—our natural tendency is to retreat to a defensive position, rather than mount an all-out attack.

Building a wall might provide a sense of comfort, but the higher the wall, the more difficult it is to see over it and figure out how to fight back.

In my training sessions, I've seen several different kinds of walls that recruiters build to protect themselves. Ironically, it’s those same walls that have the effect of limiting productivity and stifling the creative spirit.

First, there’s the autopilot wall. Typical symptoms include doing the same tasks every day—often at the same time of day—regardless of what's most important. For example, it does a recruiter no good to schedule screening interviews with candidates if there aren't any jobs they can be matched with. A better use of time might be to market for new business, or prioritize which jobs, if any, have the best chance of being filled.

Number two is the tunnel vision wall. In a hot job market, everyone's hiring, and all candidates are looking. But in a recession, the jobs and candidates you relied on to make placements are gone. Which means that you have to look for new companies, new candidate skill sets and new hiring managers to work with.

So, if you're used to dealing with mid-level candidates or jobs, you may need to move up or even down the food chain. Or, if all your recruiting has been done online, you may need to face your fear of the phone and start making cold calls.

The third wall is the artificial limit you put on how much power and control you THINK you have and how much is actually possible. I'm always amazed at how many recruiters wake up every morning and put on their strait jackets before they go to work. Here's a typical scenario:

"Gee," the hiring manager tells you. "I'd really LIKE to do business with you, but you'll need to speak to Martha in Human Resources to get approved."

Most recruiters in this scenario just go with the flow. They call Martha and end up getting the runaround. But there's a different approach.

When the manager says, “I really need your help filling this critical position, but you’ll need to clear it with Martha," you say:

"Okay, here's what we'll do. I'll put you on hold for a second and we’ll get a conference call going with Martha. Then YOU can tell Martha why it's important for me to work on this assignment and get the job filled. What's her extension?"

Nobody’s HAPPY about a soft job market. It’s like Tolstoy said in the opening sentence in Anna Karenin: That happy families are all the same, but unhappy families come in a thousand variations. I get calls and emails every day from unhappy recruiters who hope I can give them a snappy turn of phrase or a magic pill that will turn their business around. But as the comic strip character Pogo famously said, “We have seen the enemy and it is US.”

I’m confident you’ll survive during times of adversity. It just takes a little more work to tear down the walls.

I’m Bill Radin. Good luck and please stay in touch.

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Good one Bill.... it takes a bit extraordinary effort and willingness to break the shackles..
In Tolstoy’s original manuscript, the pre-edited form, read, “All happy families are alike; they have dinner together and the children do the dishes; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way; it could be anything: drunkenness, sassy back-talk, refusal to clean up one’s room, tantrums, nose-picking, adultery, don’t ask.”

I've always wondered if the pre-edit wasn't more telling than the edited but, as you point out, maybe there are only basic solutions to some problems.
Bill, great post and excellent points.

Yesterday I had three conversations with panicked recruiters who could easily have self-managed their problems. If they had taken a moment to find the opportunity in their never-been-through-a-soft-economy-OMG-what-now situation rather than default to seeing the threat it would have been better than getting a gruff-me.

They would have learned more about themselves in relation to the problem if they had spent a moment in reflection. Instead they expected me reflect back how to apply this technique or that to alleviate the problem at hand. In not addressed the root cause -- their response to hard times -- I actually did them a disservice.

Reading your post and thinking about yesterday I was reminded about Dr. Paul Stolz's book Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities. Maybe we could all benefit from an assessment of our tough-it-outness?

Thanks for a great post. We all need to continue to share sound logical advice and stories to help bring out the best in people in this business. Those who take your advice and continue to focus calmly and positively will make it through the current downturn and will owe a big debt of gratitude to you and all who are sharing similar thoughts.

Keep 'em coming.

Todd Kmiec
Todd Kmiec & Associates



Follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/toddkmiec

Connect with me on Facebook www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1440262060&ref=name

Excellent and timely post. There is a new book that addresses the topic of "we REALLY know what we should be doing, but just aren't doing it". The Book is Strategy and The Fat Smoker" by David Maister... I recommend it to anyone reading this.

The main premise is we as humans are horrible at delayed gratification and then discusses ideas on implementing what we need to. It is having a huge impact with my client recruiting firm owners reading it!

Mike Gionta
Thanks, Mike. I appreciate the comment, and will check out the book you recommended.

Take care and please stay in touch,
Excellent post, Bill. I like your straightforward points of truth, succinctly stated. Very nicely done. ~Dina
Dear Dina:
Thanks for writing; I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

Take care and please stay in touch,

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