Keeping it real. Six tactics for hard-core recruiters in 2012

No doubt you have been overwhelmed with high-level forecasts from wise recruiting soothsayers about 2012 being the year of mobile recruiting, the critical importance of building talent communities, the rise of employer branding… and many other trends that, truthfully, you hardly understand and definitely have little control over.

These people are smart, and much of what they say is spot on. But a lot is total hogwash too, no more than a distraction, and certainly most of it, you personally, cannot act on.

So what about the desk recruiter? The person doing the day-to-day slog? What resolutions can you make, today, that will equip you for a better year. Indeed, a better career?

Here are mine.

Fire lots of clients …now.

That’s right. Your eyes do not deceive. 2011 was truly the year of the tyre-kicker. At Firebrand we were overwhelmed with clients ‘testing’ the market, using multiple recruiters on the same brief, comparing our talent with internal candidates, withdrawing jobs at the last minute, even rescinding on offers.

2012 is the year to sort out these serial time-wasters and fire them. Don’t forget, you can choose who you do not work with. You have to prioritise your clients, and triage your job orders. Work on only those where the client is committed to working with you. Indeed you want a laser-like focus on clients who give you a return. The rest? Coach them on ways to work together. Give them another chance. Then kill off those bikers!

Spend less time on social media.

What? This is blasphemy! Spend less time? Who is this dinosaur? Well, I may be a dinosaur, but I am a dinosaur with 10,000 twitter followers, a blog read by 5,000 plus people every week, a busy Facebook page,  and many thousands of LinkedIn contacts.

So I know two things about Social Media.
i) the benefits
ii) how much time it wastes.
And you need to learn from this. Of course social media is a critical channel for recruiters. If you have not developed a social media profile yet, then get going. But don’t confuse the much touted mantra from the ‘experts’ that is ‘all about engagement,’ with banal banter and time-wasting that will lead to nothing. Don’t con yourself. Use social media wisely, with focus, with intent, with a plan …… and with a limit on how much time it sucks up. While we are on this topic, spend less time on your computer.

Spend more time on the oldest social networking tool we have – the telephone.

Yes, I know, seriously old-school. Yet it is a fact that recruiting is still about influencing, connecting, persuading, negotiating, listening, selling and closing. And if you think email or social media can do those things better than face-to-face or telephone contact…you are… how shall I word this? Ah yes! Dumb as mud.

Focus on $ productive activities.

There are so many distractions these days. So easy for a recruiter to ‘be busy’. On social media. On research. On admin. Your goal for 2012 is to spend as many hours as possible on dollar-productive activities. And those are the activities that lead to an invoice. And typically they are the ‘contact’ activities. Talking to, and meeting, with talent. Talking to, and meeting, clients and prospects. They are the money-moments. Again don’t fool yourself. A ‘busy day’ without lots of these activities, is not a dollar-day.

Increase innovation and time on talent acquisition.

Remember, not everyone is looking for a job, but everyone is available to change jobs. 2012 is the year for you to actually do something about tapping into the passive 90%. The future of recruitment is that everyone is a candidate -  all the time. And it is up to us to convert them into active candidates, not wait for them to come to us.

Focus only on things you have control over.

I am sick of hearing and talking about the shaky economy, fickle clients, the situation in Europe, the stock market gyrations, elections in the US, the talent shortage, what the Chinese may do with the currency. I mean seriously, can YOU do anything about those things? Of course not, so don’t waste your energy and denude your motivation with this stuff. Focus on what you can impact and control.

And mostly, those are the things I have outlined in this blog.

Wishing you all a fantastic 2012.


Views: 14405

Comment by Megan Bell on January 17, 2012 at 5:39pm

Wow Greg, great blog post, you speak the truth and I appreciate that.  Thanks for the tips and for keeping my mind in the game - time to get back to my phone calls!

Comment by Greg Savage on January 18, 2012 at 2:25am

Thanks Megan!

Comment by Travis Yeager on January 18, 2012 at 9:53am

Good Stuff

Comment by Daniel Feit on January 18, 2012 at 9:55am

I Agree awesome post.  I thought clients were only wasting, my, and my own firms time in 2011, it was crazy, I went home thinking of 06, 07, and even some of 08, where we the vendors actually called the shots.  Good to hear I was not alone on that one.

Comment by Kyle Schafroth on January 18, 2012 at 1:53pm

Refreshing to read something that, as you put it Greg, are items that we can actually act on.

Comment by Doug Boswell on January 18, 2012 at 5:40pm

After reading this post and getting that, "where have I heard this before" feeling, I realized that this is not a list of 6 points, but just one point with 5 examples. Focus only on things you have control over. The rest are examples of things that you have control over and should be focused on. Still, I did enjoy getting a 6 point slapping.

Comment by Katie on January 18, 2012 at 10:25pm

Very great ideas, Greg! Definitely has inspired me to take a look at 2011 and make some resolutions of my own for 2012. Best of luck to you progressing your career as a recruiter! 

Comment by Greg Savage on January 19, 2012 at 5:32am

Doug, you are right, of course, although by definition any list of things we should do to improve our business, is a list of things we have control over! We could hardly have a list of action points...that we cannot action! In many ways that is the whole theme of my post. Stuff you can, and must, do now.  So I am pretty sure these are six very different points, or maybe five different points and one overarching attitudinal ethos :)

Comment by Doug Boswell on January 19, 2012 at 11:34am

OK Greg, I see your point, so make that a 7 point slapping.

I guess it's all in the organization of the points and who they're direct toward.

For example, if you work for a big staffing firm your boss/overlord probably won't give you the right to fire lots of clients. Or any. And if you're in that situation hopefully you aren't being ordered to work on searches from clients you'd like to fire. If so it might be time to ask for a salary, or get smart, head for the door and don't look back.

My favorite advice over that past weeks to my peers, and those that are unfortunate enough to be in the same room with me, is to "Stop doing what doesn't work", a catch-all for at least 2 of you points.

Comment by Greg Savage on January 19, 2012 at 9:06pm

"Stop doing what doesn't work", yes I like that, and will re-use if I may:)


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