Stress at work is dangerous. Seriously. I believe it leads to medical issues, and it certainly will harm your relationships and overall quality of life.

And that is bad for us recruiters because we do one of the toughest jobs around. The ‘all or nothing’ nature of what we do is designed to induce stress, it seems.

Over the years I have seen recruiters reduced to highly destructive and antisocial behavior as a result of the stress they feel, as they fight to achieve targets, deal with major disappointments, and cope with rude clients and ungrateful candidates.

Drinking too much. Drug abuse. Anger directed at colleagues. Wild mood swings. Dishonest dealings. Depression. Rapid weight gain or loss.

All unfortunate. All harmful.

But what can you do about it? Pressure and stress is part of what we do. It’s not going to go away. The reality is we need to learn to cope. Have some releases that ease the pressure and redress the balance.

Here are a few things I recommend, when it comes to battling the stress tsunami.

  • Have a good cry. Seriously. Or, once the phone is put down, let off some steam. As long as it’s not directed at a colleague. As long as it’s quick. As long as you bounce back fast, it’s OK! In fact, given our job, it would be weird not to melt down occasionally. I was not much of a crier myself, but when things went seriously wrong it was not unknown for me to let slip a few choice expletives, punch the desk, bang my head on the wall. It’s OK. Let it go. You will feel better afterward. But then… move on!
  • Get perspective. Breathe. Again, I am serious. Push back from your desk. Suck in the big ones. Deliberately and consciously shift your thinking. Dump the negatives. ‘It will go well’, not ‘it’s all going down the gurgler’. I believe in PMA (Positive Mental Attitude). And I also believe that we can control how we react to situations. Jump off the stress treadmill. Take a chill-pill. Recalibrate your attitude. Whatever crappy thing just happened, it’s not that serious.
  • Recognise the warning signs. This is simple, but big. If stress is building and you can see it’s getting worse, sometimes discretion is the greater part of valour. Take evasive action. Avoid that irritating client call. Stop making sales calls for an hour where you are getting nowhere with rude clients, and call 10 of your best talent instead. They will be pleased to hear from you and that will cheer you up right there! Leave the office early. You can make it up tomorrow. Call someone who will cheer you up.
  • Set an achievable goal. One you can get, and that will make you feel good. This is key. A massive sea of work is piling up all around you. You can see no way you can get it done. Every call you take seems to pile more and more on you. The ‘to do’ list is getting ever longer.  So here is the trick. Cross everything on the ‘to do’ list out, except the top 3 big, hairy important things that must get done. Forget the rest. You were not going to get to them anyway, were you? Scratch them out and get the big 3 to 5 things done. Then go home. Successful.
  • Sweat a little. This is my most personal tip. I reckon exercise reduces stress exponentially. In fact I have month’s gym session in my diary ahead of time – 3 or 4 a week – and I don’t change them for anybody (unless my wife tells me to. Obviously.). And I go in the middle of the day. Just around the corner from my office. It suits me because I work long hours and it does not really matter when I take the break, as long as I take it. For you it might be different, but if you feel the stress building, don’t hit the grog or buy that burger to give you the comfort you crave. Run, gym, bike or even just a swift walk. For me it’s a lifesaver. Someone even told me that if they have a difficult meeting with me, they try to arrange it after my gym session, because, inevitably, I am ‘much calmer’.

Being a recruiter means stress. It never fully goes away no matter how good you are. You have to manage it. Because if we can manage the pressure, being a recruiter rocks! Hope these tips help you!


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Views: 1352

Comment by Brian K. Johnston on November 22, 2011 at 10:41am

Thanks for sharing this post.... It is EXCELLENT...  I do believe exercise and nutrition are the biggest factors of success, because when you "feel excellent" life looks differently, and how you process information (good or bad)  Cheers!  B-

Comment by Greg Savage on November 22, 2011 at 2:05pm

Thanks Brian, appreciate that...

Comment by Megan Flynn on November 22, 2011 at 4:10pm

I needed this post today. Thanks!

Comment by David Brooks on November 22, 2011 at 10:21pm

Every recruiter should take this advice to heart. I have been doing 3rd party recruiting a long time and can honestly say there is no other profession out there that can be more stressful than the work that we do every day. 


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