Two weeks ago I took my eldest son to the 2012 Year 7 Orientation Day at his new secondary school. All the kids and parents were milling around before the event started. There was an excited buzz in the air as students from many different primary schools checked out their future school-mates.


As I was waiting for the formalities to start, I was looking around the hall and noticed the school motto plastered across the wall: There is more in you than you think. As I was driving back home after the new parents morning tea, I was thinking more about the school motto and how appropriate it was for any place of learning, not just a school.


Learning only occurs outside of a person's comfort zone and it is only natural for a person to experience some form of concern or stress or disorientation when they are confronted with learning something new. Students do this every day at school and as such it largely ceases to be a big deal for them.


I expect that the motto is used throughout the school as a constant reminder that whenever a student reaches a point that they may regard as their ‘top level', there is always another level that can be attained if the student is willing to believe that they possess that capability within themselves.


Not only is that a very apt motto for a school, it is also a perfectly appropriate motto for recruitment consultants.


Recruitment trainer, Scott Love tweeted about four weeks ago ‘RECRUITER TIP: Recruiting is a personal development opportunity disguised as a job. Grow in your soul and you will grow in your billings.'


I agree 100 per cent.


One of the major reasons why only a minority of people who take a job as a recruiter are able to create a successful long term career, is due to the significant personal development challenges the job presents on a regular basis.


Those major challenges are these:


1)    You have no formal power or authority
Consider the formal power and authority that doctors, teachers, lawyers, scientists, managers, business owners etc have. This formal power and authority (management guru Stephen Covey calls this ‘positional power') means that, to varying degrees, people pay attention to what you say and do as you say because your title or position confers a certain level of respect.

This is completely absent for agency recruiters. We have no formal power or authority (except to a small degree with temps or contractors who work for us) so stakeholders (eg prospects, clients and candidates) can ignore what we say, with no negative consequence to them.

The only way we can gain any sort of power or authority is to earn it one interaction at a time (Covey calls this ‘moral authority'). The persistence, patience and self-belief required to stick to this path is personal development personified.

2)    You have to deal with constant rejection
Closely related to point (1) above, is the reality that to become a very successful recruiter you have to build strong relationships with a large number of people. This means initiating contact with a much, much larger number of people, expecting that a majority of people you initiate contact with will say, either explicitly or implicitly ‘I'm not interested, go away'. Learning how to effectively deal with that ‘no' so that you are not derailed from accomplishing your ultimate goal, is a personal development journey.

3)    It's all about you
Bluntly put, recruiters sell people to people. The brand we represent (ie our employer or our client) has far less influence on the final outcome than our skill and willingness to make things happen.

Every piece of blame we apportion to something else (‘the sagging economy') or someone else (‘the greedy candidate') is a missed opportunity for us to learn what we could have done differently.

Taking responsibility for whatever happens and being willing to methodically understand what we could have done to achieve a better result is at the very core of personal development. Blaming my ex-wife for how my first marriage finished up may have a fair swag of moral justification and lots of social support (eg my friends and family) but ultimately that's a pointless exercise if I want to avoid (yes, please) making the same mistakes in my second marriage.


Your willingness to undertake the personal development journey, necessary for success as a recruiter, can be identified through what leadership expert, Lisa J. Marshall, expresses as the difference between being a ‘performer' or a ‘learner'.


Performers focus on doing things well and avoiding failure. In order to avoid the risk of less-than-perfect performance, they avoid activities where practice and the risk of making mistakes, will be necessary to develop mastery. Instead performers stick to what already comes easily (their natural abilities), thereby inhibiting the development of new capabilities. As a result, they don't commit to endeavours that might require a higher level of performance than they believe themselves capable of offering (ie they see their abilities as FIXED and not capable of improvement).


Learners focus differently. They are driven far more by curiosity than by the concern with how others perceive their performance. Their concern thus is with action ("what happens if I try this?") rather than with how their results are judged. Mistakes become simple feedback, rather than symbols of failure. They adjust and try again to reach their goals. Learners tolerate a lot of frustration and mistakes on the road to accomplishing what they want. They do not judge themselves as failures for not getting it right the first, the second or even the third time. As a result their capabilities continue to expand (ie they see their capabilities as unlimited and always capable of improvement).


Speak the Truth and Point to Hope: The Leader's Journey to Maturity by Lisa J. Marshall (Kendall Hunt Publishing, 2004), page 121 & 122  


When I consider my twenty-two year journey as a recruiter, leader of recruiters and now coach and trainer, I can say with certainty that it has been a continuous journey of self development.


There has certainly been more in me than I thought.


Are you willing to go on the journey to see whether there is more in you than you thought?


If so, congratulations, you couldn't have chosen a better way to earn a living than recruitment consulting.

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