Have Vision. Set Goals. Work Hard. But Don’t Beat Yourself Up

I have learned over the years that in order to achieve my “big picture” goals for my business I have to ensure that I achieve my daily activity goals to get the results I desire. I learned a long time ago that “activity breeds activity,” and the more activity we do on a daily basis the better our opportunity to achieve the results we desire.

Recruiting on a day-to-day basis is such a metric-driven business that establishing daily goals and activity levels is critical to the success of any good recruiter. You have to be able to come in every day and knock out your goals on a consistent basis. Just like your favorite football team has to have a solid week of practice in order to perform well on Sunday, a recruiter has to achieve their daily goals on a daily basis in order to be successful.

In our office, each recruiter has daily goals that include number of calls, number of presentations, and number of submissions. We track these goals on both a daily and weekly basis to ensure that each person is hitting the required activity levels to warrant success.

Humble Beginnings

When I first started recruiting I did not know how many calls I needed to make to succeed, but I knew that if I did not make a significant amount of phone calls each day my family might not have enough money on which to live. Recruiting was my first job with a significant portion of my income earned by commissions; I was committed to putting in the effort and activities needed on a daily basis to make sure I succeeded. However, sometimes life gets in the way, and just like my “big picture” goals I would fall short of achieving my daily activity.

Early in my recruiting career, not achieving my daily goals was very frustrating and I felt guilty that I had not stepped up and hit my numbers. My income was dependent on closing deals, and the only way I was going to close deals was by talking to people.

I felt like I let my wife and children down as I knew we could not live off the small base salary I was paid. Consequently, I would find myself in my home office late in the evening, working all hours to come up with a prospective list of people to call. I would come in the next day, get started on my calls, and something would get me side-tracked again from talking to the number of people I needed to each day.

When talking to new recruiters about my life in recruiting, I often tell the story that my family starved for the first fifteen months I was recruiting because I could never get over the hump and achieve my goals. I was starting from scratch, trying to build a book of business, and with very little training, I did not know how to protect my prime calling hours. As a result, I would easily get distracted and not achieve my daily goals. This resulted in few deals in my pipeline and fewer opportunities to close more. My frustration and guilt would grow as I struggled with what to do.

After a year of recruiting, I started to realize that in order to be successful I had to find a way to achieve my daily goals without beating myself up if I did not hit my numbers. Consistently protecting my prime calling hours had to be a priority in order for me to achieve the activity numbers every single day. I quickly realized that no matter what, I had to hit my call numbers every day in order to keep filling my pipeline with prospects and candidates.

Finding Balance

One of the key items was a daily strategy. I had never been very good at developing a daily plan, much less sticking to it during the course of the day. Once I realized the key to achieving my daily metrics was a good plan, and I committed to consistently following through on it, my recruiting life started to balance out.

Balance in my life both professionally and personally was a key ingredient to meeting my daily goals. Mornings were structured so that I was making marketing calls and presentations between 9:00 am and 11:30am with no distractions. My afternoons — from 1:30 to 4 — were spent talking to candidates about job opportunities. My planning period would start at 4:00 p.m. regardless of what I had done during the day.

Much like an athlete who has to prepare and practice for game day each week, a recruiter has to plan and prepare every day to close deals. The athlete cannot merely “show up” to the game and expect a victory, just as a recruiter cannot show up and expect a productive day.

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I also learned that I had to take time on a daily basis to evaluate to avoid bogging down in details that would keep me from achieving my goals. One key for me was to commit to taking time for myself to clear my head.

Some days that was exercising. On other days it meant taking a long walk, or spending time with my kids. I knew that I could not keep beating myself up when I did not have a successful day by my personal metrics measurements. By clearing my head, I was able to put together a plan for the next day that would allow me to reach my daily goals.

Being Consistent

Just like the big picture goals I establish at the beginning of each year, recruiters have to develop a plan every day to achieve the results we desire. Life has a way of getting in the way of all good plans. The key is finding an appropriate approach to be consistent and diligent in achieving the daily metrics required for success as a recruiter. It is imperative to work around whatever life throws our way so we can get right back on track even when we miss our daily goal target. Do not beat yourself up when you do not achieve those daily goals, but be prepared to plan diligently and consistently every day.

At the end of the day, as a recruiter, I believe that the best way to measure ourselves in not by the daily goals we set forth, but how we learn and improve upon missed goals.

Recruiting is a numbers game, but there are things that happen along the way that can throw us off track. Be it the hiring manager who needs your immediate attention, the candidate who needs some last minute interview preparation, or personal issues that are creeping up on us during business hours, a solid recruiter learns that sometimes, not hitting your daily goals is not so much about falling down on the job,  but about a chance to learn how to re-direct your efforts to bring you one step closer towards making a placement.

J. Kent Hudson is Director of Project Personnel and Executive Search Services for Strategic Contract Resources, LLC  SCR is an international supplier of personnel to the petrochemical, oil, gas, power, process, and telecom industries. SCR provides highly skilled project-to-project personnel on a defined-term basis, and professional search services to fill client direct hire needs. Kent has 16 years experience working in the energy marketplace, and has been recruiting for eight years in the energy industry. In this role he has focused on the upstream E&P, refinery, petrochemical, and engineering disciplines while building a team of energy industry recruiters to expand SCR’s contract and direct hire placement business. Kent is the former vice president of PennWell’s Petroleum Group, including the Oil & Gas Journal and Offshore magazine, and publisher of PennWell’s electric power magazines and trade shows. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and is a CPA with a Masters in Business Administration.

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5 Comments on “Have Vision. Set Goals. Work Hard. But Don’t Beat Yourself Up

  1. Agree 100%! A to B to C will eventually get you to Z. Can get to Z without all of the steps. I think it’s critical for the manager / owner to establish this expectation from the start as well.

  2. Speaking of measureing activity. My phone system just died. It’s just me – solo head hunter. Do you have a recommendation for a cheap soloution to keep track of my number of calls and phone time?

  3. I have been there myself in the exact same position with the same issues and the same feelings of guilt…it could have been me writing it!! Thanks for sharing your experience and I am 100% with you on the metrics. Great a article.

  4. This was a really good article. Thanks for sharing. It’s often easy to lose track of things along the way and keep focused but more importantly learning and growing along the way. I live in the UAE and Ramadan hours are so short it means you have to reschedule everything.
    Good luck in your business and all the best.

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