Ask Barb

Q. I have been in this business for over 20 years and I have never come up with an answer on how to get my recruiters to produce more. They all have hundreds of reasons why they can’t fit more into their day. I see thousands of dollars sitting on their desks, in orders we’re not filling. How can I motivate them to do more? I roll out contests and even that doesn’t work. They seem to be working hard, but I know they could do more if they wanted to. This is very frustrating, and I need some fresh ideas on how to light a fire under them. Ralph S., St. Louis, MO

A. Let’s start out by realizing that people will do things for THEIR REASONS, not yours! You can’t motivate a person who does not want to be motivated. As an owner, the most you can do is to create a motivational entrepreneurial environment for your sales team so they can flourish. I have several suggestions for you.

1. Monitor numbers. Recruiting is a Sales Profession, and numbers don’t lie. Especially monitor the SEND-OUT totals (their candidates interviewed by your clients – first interview only). The quickest way to improve production is to increase send-out numbers.

2. Find out what DOES motivate your sales team. It may not be the contests you are creating. You need to design contests that hit the hot buttons of your recruiters. If you want to know what those are, just ask.

3. Have your sales team track how many NEW people they speak to each day. Set a minimum of 20. Too often, experienced recruiters speak to the same people over and over again and as a result don’t represent new talent and clients.

4. Make sure your recruiters have their day PLANNED out before they leave the office. Top producers in our profession plan and are extremely focused.

5. Hold emails and incoming calls every day from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. and have your sales team make at least 60% of their outgoing calls during that time. The only calls they take are closes, reference checks, and debriefs. They also take calls from individuals who say, “He/she told me to interrupt him/her,” which are hits from the recruiting and marketing presentations they have been making all morning. Production increases when their day is controlled by their outgoing calls vs. incoming calls.

6. Realize that you will not be able to increase production for recruiters who are satisfied with their current production and income level. You need to analyze whether these individuals are an asset or a liability and then decide whether they should be members of your sales team.

Q. When do I know when to fire someone? I can’t begin to estimate the money I have lost on bad hires, people I’ve just kept too long, or even my senior people who burn out. Then they come into my office, tell me I’m the best person they’ve ever worked for, and resign. I just had one of my more senior people resign, and I’ve been advancing her commissions for over six months. I’m always shocked when people resign, and I’m sure there were signs I’m missing. I’ve even hesitated about hiring new people because I don’t want to deal with it. Shirley A., Tampa, FL

A. Most recruiting firms are small businesses owned by individuals who truly care about their employees. This is the question I’m asked more than any other: “When do I know when I should fire someone?” My answer is always the same: When you ask yourself IF you should fire someone, it’s not a matter of IF, but WHEN.

You are in business to make a profit, not provide jobs for your employees. Recruiting is a sales profession, and the members of your sales team are either assets or liabilities. You have to run your business as a business. I believe that our employees are the greatest assets we have, and you can’t jeopardize the productive employees you have by not being able to make difficult decisions. You can’t retain individuals who are negatively impacting your bottom line or those who “suck the oxygen” out of your office when they arrive. You need to create an environment where your sales team can flourish.

When you retain a nonproductive employee, your other employees are wondering why you are not terminating this person. Even worse, you could lose the respect of those employees. Also be aware that the worst scenario is when you have employees who “QUIT and STAY.” They become morale busters, and you need to always be interviewing so you can continue to upgrade your team. Here’s to making the tough decisions.

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Q. How can I manage my emails? Everyone in my office is buried under the hundreds of emails we receive on a daily basis. We belong to all the job boards, and I’m wondering if they’re worth the money we’re spending. Frank T., UK

A. You have two separate issues in your question: the effectiveness of job boards and how to manage emails. Let’s start out with the job boards. It’s important to identify and utilize numerous resources. I’ve always believed, however, that the best candidates are those who are “currently working but would consider a change for the right opportunity.” Those are the candidates we surface as a result of recruiting presentations and are the top talent our clients want to hire.

Over 75% of the individuals who utilize the job boards are recruiters. As a result, many of the candidates are off the market or are represented by multiple recruiters. The best use of job boards is often to utilize those candidates on the job boards to lead you to other individuals they know who are above average.

You can most easily manage your email in three ways:

1. Have numerous emails for specific purposes.
2. Separate your emails by specific subject lines you give to top-priority emails.
3. Have an administrative person screen and prioritize your emails.

It’s important in this age of technology that we maintain a balance of “high tech and high touch.” Every third contact with a client or candidate should be a conversation in order to develop rapport, trust, and a consultative type of relationship. Computers don’t make placements – people do! Good luck in establishing these changes.

Barb Bruno, CPC, CTS, is one of the leading international speakers for the recruiting profession today. Sign up for her free “NO B.S.” newsletter and receive notices on the two free teleconferences she conducts each month – one for owners, one for recruiters.

Barb Bruno, CPC, CTS, is one of the most trusted experts, speakers, and trainers in the Staffing and Recruiting Professions. If you want to receive FREE training articles from Barb, sign up for her NO BS Newsletter! Barb has spent the last twenty years focused on helping Owners, Managers, and Recruiters increase their sales, profits, and income.

Her Top Producer Tutor web-based training program jumps-starts new hires and takes experienced recruiters to their next level of production. Barb's cutting-edge program, Happy Candidates, provides you with a Customized Career Portal in less than 10 minutes. Happy Candidates allows you to help the 95% of candidates you don?t place and eliminates the greatest time waster in your business.

If you'd like to contact Barb, call (219) 663-9609 or email


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