Success in recruiting starts with success in your head. If you start to think like a big biller, you will eventually become one. It’s not the other way around. First, decide that you will become one, and second, find out how to do it. It really is that simple. Where most people fall short is either in their lack of desire, lack of commitment, or lack of willingness to invest in their own success.
I recently keynoted and did several breakout sessions at Top Echelon’s annual convention. What a fun group. I had a chance to really get to know and observe the audience during the day-long program, and from this large group of high performing and big billing industry veterans, I discovered that there were several common characteristics among them.
1. All of the attendees are seasoned realists with an optimistic attitude. They understood that the market was dynamic and they anticipated where it was going to be to meet it head on with a proactive attitude. They were optimistic, but were realistic without becoming jaded or cynical.
2. They accept full responsibility for their desks. It wasn’t the economy. Or the clients. Or the candidates. They knew that they were completely responsible for what happened to them regarding their performance. If they weren’t getting results they wanted to achieve then they were willing to try something different and keep trying until it worked.
3. They are comfortable with achieving at a higher level. For many recruiters, we sometimes feel guilty or hesitant about wanting to get to the next level. My good friend and colleague Dr. Kenneth Christian, author of Your Own Worst Enemy, once said to me, “Scott, there is no such thing as over-achievement. Over-achievement is something that was designed by those who don’t like to see people performing at a level higher than theirs. It’s a way to pull people back down.” Don’t be afraid to think big. Thing big, have realistic expectations, set a high vision, and keep it real with realistic and challenging goals. The goals you set need to be within reach but your vision is what keeps you striving. Once you set a high vision, break it down into realistic goals. Do whatever it takes to win, and by doing that, you will start expecting to win and feel like you deserve to win. That’s when the magic starts and your performance increases.
4. They have a sense of humor. They kept it positive. The frustrations they shared with each other were spiced up with humor and belly laughs. Humor relieves the tension, and there’s a lot of tension in this business.
5. Even though they are tenured, they are wise enough to know that they don’t know it all. This sense of overconfidence or ‘I’ve heard it all’ is the kiss of death in a search organization. Sad to say, it’s all too common. I’ve personally seen nationally acclaimed organizations which will never reach what they can become because they don’t realize that the secret to big billings is hidden in the basics that they learned in the first two years of their career. They think that only the rookies need to have the basics explained to them. “We only teach basics at our rookie seminars.” Man, what a huge mistake. If their premise were true then all recruiters with over two years of experience would be billing at least a million bucks a year. It’s one thing to know what to do. It’s something else to actually execute and do what you are supposed to do, consistently and thoroughly.
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6. They are actively seeking to get better. That’s why they were attending a professional meeting designed to give them an edge. High performers actively seek to get better and are willing to invest in their own intellectual equity. You will either pay in training or pay in time to learn the business. Either way you are going to pay. You might as well shorten the learning curve and seek out the knowledge that will help you get to the next level.
7. They are open to new ideas that are out-of-the-box. Many of the ideas I was able to share with them, specifically the rainmaking and marketing ones, are unique to the industry and are not normally taught to our profession. They were intrigued, motivated, and challenged, but still had a degree of trepidation to pursue something that was uncomfortable and stretched them. It’s fine to have the hesitation to change. That’s a normal feeling. But then it’s something else to recognize it and push through it like these champions will.
8. They have developed a support group with each other. Whether you are one of several consultants within a firm or are a solo practitioner, you need connection with other search consultants. This is a lonely business and when your phone starts giving you an attitude, you need to let off steam with a colleague. It doesn’t really matter if you develop a formalized structure of communication with your group. Just make some friends and start talking about your successes, failures, challenges, and triumphs.
Make a choice today that you will do whatever it takes to become successful in this business. It starts with a decision, then a plan, then action, and finally accountability. Make your decision today, write a plan tomorrow, find someone to hold you accountable, and start working to achieve the success that you deserve.