Recruiters everywhere are on the brink of a great period in our industry. The New Year is just a few weeks away and this recruiter is more excited about the business than ever before. I have seen several periods of economic recession and recovery in the last three decades. This one offers more opportunity to thrive and create wealth than previous periods. The markets are climbing, companies are starving for talent, and recruiters are hungry for success. The only element missing in most “desks” is the change essential to exploiting the circumstances. If you were highly successful in the last recruiting “boom,” you are now faced with the re-invention of your market, process and attitude. My exposure to thousands of recruiters has brought me to the belief that we love creating placements but despise change. This is a normal human condition, but a causative factor in the demise of many goods recruiters in the last eighteen months. The old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is commonly used when we are succeeding. It is a deadly rationale to avoid the difficulties of change when we are not as successful.I have spoken with many people who are fully aware that their markets are either dead or dying. They are understandably frustrated by a lack of results in these markets. They are also desperately seeking answers to the question, “how do I get more business when nobody is hiring?” The answer often does not exist because they ask the wrong question. The means to create wealth for these folks lies in answering the question, “What market should I develop today?” This requires change and the courage to do so.Healthy markets exist. Markets where clients are hiring, willing to pay full fees and seeking the aide of skilled recruiters. Do your due diligence to identify them. Seek out the easily available marketplace intelligence. This can be found at its most fundamental level in the current economic outlooks and research provided through the Federal Reserve banking system. It is also published in several accurate and easily obtainable documents from the GPO at www.gpo.gov.Starting with the knowledge that certain industries are rising in sales and projecting growth, call into those industries by acquiring the industrial intelligence (company listing and contact information). This intelligence is published by several commercial vendors. It is also available at your local library. You know that place – it is the one with all the books that smells funny and we hated to visit in college. The folks at these institutions will bend over backwards to help anyone sincerely interested in exploiting their resources.Once you are armed with company names and contact numbers in promising markets, get on the phone and do further diligence. You need not sell on the first calls. It is my practice to establish a sense of mutual understanding by asking questions rather than pitching candidates or broadcasting the ten top reasons why “you should work with me.” The insights you can gather from the collective contacts you make in these calls will also reinforce your belief in the fertility of the industry where the demand recruiting services should exist. If you discern that it does, after several dozen calls or more, then circle back to your initial contacts and further develop a relationship and identify where grade “A” recruiting opportunities exist. If your due diligence refutes the promises of you initial research, you should take another industry into consideration. I suggest you go back through the process I previously outlined.Another means of identifying a good market selection is to ask those people you already know from previously developed markets, where they are likely to look for more secure employment opportunities. The industries where they know their talents and skill are translatable and in demand. I have found that this is a great technique due to the accuracy of input. Their paychecks also depend on finding a better industry in which to work, pay their mortgages and feed their families. This approach also avails you of the advantages of a reasonably attractive database of existing candidates once you develop that alternative industry. It is not, however, a stand alone tactic and should be used in tandem with the more strategic process outlined above.It would be unfair to leave these suggestions with you and not address the greatest reason why this approach can fail. It is also often the reason why some recruiters are failing at present in reasonably healthy markets. Do you practice a professional recruiting process? Is it an integral element in your service? The economy we face is growing into a robust state, but it will nevertheless be totally unforgiving of the recruiter who focuses on the end game alone. Transactional practices such as “hawking” a super-duper candidate served the goals of many recruiters during the past period(s) of affluence. They are doubtlessly devastating today. The emerging decision-makers today seek effective trust bonds and value-added relationships with recruiters. It is no longer enough to be a preferred provider of great candidates. You must develop a solid base of clients who perceive you as a trusted advisor. This can not be based on transactional practices such as the one-breath presentations scripted by many recruiters. The answer to success in creating this prerequisite relationship starts with learning a detailed recruiting process. Mastering its subtleties and selling its advantages to client contacts on an insightful and value-added basis. This process begins far before the identification of a good job order and continues in solid continuity after the candidate starts work with your client. There is no longer a crack in the fabric of recruiting success that will allow any recruiter to escape the challenge of this change.The challenges we face today are many and can be daunting because they demand radical changes in markets, practices and perspectives. I like to rely on the wisdom of wiser people like Jack Welch, the icon of success at G.E. and elsewhere – “Change before you have to.” For some it is a game of “catch-up.” For others, this is the best time to commit to these non-negotiable changes and take immediate action! For everyone, this recruiter as well, change is not bad it is just essential.Just to document the fact that this recruiter practices what I preach; since the Spring of ’02, I have changed markets, sold a successful recruiting business to my staff and relocated recently to the sunny gulf side of Florida. I started another recruiting practices business in Florida. A lot of folks have asked me, “Why Florida?” Beyond the fact that I have always admired the recruiters in this state and the associations here, I also tell most folks that I want my salt in the water, not on the streets! I will be here for a long while and invoicing clients forever. Please let me know how I can be of service to you.
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