Recruiter Attention Deficit Disorder

In the manufacturing economy, time was the currency. Systems were designed for maximum efficiency, and effectiveness was simply measured by how much time could be dedicated to the process. The assembly line was the perfect example of this. In today’s information environment, knowledge is critical and attention is the currency. Directing our attention to the right places and for the right amount of time is the key to effectiveness. I created the checklist below for you to do a self-assessment.

– You are frequently distracted from your current activity by others or your own lack of focus.
– You finish your day surprised by how little you actually accomplished despite the fact that you felt busy all day (e.g., you were on the phone “all day,” but the phone report shows that you barely cracked two hours!).
– You have a to-do list of important items but always seem to be distracted by more “urgent” activities.
– You find it difficult to focus fully on another person without thinking of other matters.
– You constantly check and respond to your email, text messages, instant messages, etc.
– People get frustrated with you (verbally or nonverbally) be-cause you answer your phone or return text messages in the middle of meetings or conversations.
– You frequently feel a sense of “information overload.”
– You think you are a great multi-tasker.
– You are addicted to emergencies and pride yourself on being the best “fire fighter.”
– You love the feeling of being “in the “zone”/”in the moment” /”in the now” and the feeling of being effective and efficient during those times but are frustrated by how infrequently you are there.

If you checked a majority of the items (and were distracted in the process), then you may be suffering from RADD. The good news is that it is curable and you can fill your own prescription! The irony is that those who suffer worst from this condition actually perceive it as a strength because of their incredible “efficiency and ability to multi-task.”

The reality is that effectiveness IS NOT the same as efficiency. You may feel efficient because you sent out three emails during the “boring parts” of a meeting, but what about the unintended consequences of how others perceive you? Maybe they think you believe you are more important than they are and that your time is more valuable than theirs? What if, by “multi-tasking,” you happened to miss something truly important, and the act of missing it had negative repercussions?

You see, multi-tasking is a myth. There are times when multi-tasking and bouncing from one activity to the next is both unavoidable and necessary. However, the MAJORITY of times that you are busy, multi-tasking, and rushed are merely self-created and ultimately counterproductive.

For instance, when people are driving down the highway while talking on their phone and miss their exit or get pulled over by a person in blue or hit something. All of these are unintended consequences of “multi-tasking.” Each scenario costs more time than what was saved. Okay, so maybe you have that one down and it is not an issue. Now imagine going into a fitness club and seeing a person walk briskly from one station to the next. He lies on the bench press and does one rep. Then he walks to the pull-up bar and does two reps. Then he races to the treadmill and runs on it for 20 seconds. Then he walks over to the sit-up machine and does three sit-ups. Then he goes to the leg-press machine and does two reps. Then he goes over to the cardio area and does three jump ropes. Then he goes to the arm-curl machine and does three reps. Then he drops to the floor and does one push-up. This kind of madness continues for an hour. Afterward, he describes to his buddy in the locker room just how busy he was during his workout. He did over 25 types of exercises in an hour, which must make him the most efficient person in the gym! Right? Wrong! He was completely ineffective. THIS IS EXACTLY HOW WE LOOK AT TIMES WITHOUT ACTUALLY REALIZING IT! Are you the person who spends two hours at the fitness club but exercises for only half that time because “others” are constantly distracting you with their idle chitchat? Are you that way at the office? No matter what, always remember and never forget that YOU ARE THE SOLE AND UNCONTESTED AUTHOR OF YOUR LIFE, AND YOU GET TO WRITE A NEW CHAPTER EACH DAY YOU ARE ALIVE!!!

As I like to say, your inbox will be full the day you die and life will somehow go on! As is the case with any problem, the first step is to recognize that there is one. The good news is that slight changes can produce profound results for yourself and those around you. By implementing the suggestions that follow, you will find yourself “in the zone” more frequently and more effective. Others will experience you being more fully present, relationships will deepen, and you just may find yourself taking less medication for ulcers, headaches, high blood pressure, and the like (you may even find yourself drinking and/or smoking less, too!).

Please review and implement the action items on this list and watch your productivity soar and your stress plummet!

1. Create “platinum/golden hours” in your office. Establish certain times each day when no one can distract others or be distracted. In recruiting, 9:30 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 3:30 p.m. are pretty good times. The only acceptable distractions or interruptions should be emergencies.

2. Create a running task list of administrative activities. As your day unfolds, pick a time before lunch and at the end of the day to handle them, as opposed to throughout the day (e.g., emailing a client a candidate profile/résumé, fee agreement, or note).

3. Loosen your electronic leash four times a day. Set up a special ring on your cell phone for the critical people in your life (e.g., kids, certain clients, etc.) and only answer that ring. Turn off instant messages. Shut down your email. Eliminate all distractions. You should create four different time blocks between 45 minutes and one hour each to fully focus on a specific activity that you have predetermined for that time. Recruiters may designate an hour each for 1) new client calls, 2) client follow-up calls, 3) new recruiting, and 4) follow-up recruiting. If you maintain only a few seconds between each call, then achieving 3.5 hours of market connect time in ONLY A FOUR-HOUR TIME PERIOD is both realistic and highly effective!

4. Establish times when distractions are acceptable. Educate your environment as to when it is best to get with you by phone or in person for activities that are not urgent and critical.

5. Put your “big rocks” in first. Make a list of all your current important projects that are not urgent. They could be reading a book, creating a new marketing letter, creating a list of all the industry sites in your market, etc. Now assign at least two one-hour slots a week to do them. Keep these appointments with yourself the same way that you would with a client. DO NOT allow yourself to schedule anything during those times unless it is a TRUE emergency. If you do not begin to do some of the strategic work now, when will you?

6. Minimize multi-tasking. Practice being fully present and engage in one activity at a time. If someone pops into your office while you are typing an email, ask them to send you an email to schedule a mutually convenient time to get together. What makes typing an email, writing a letter, or even just thinking activities that can so easily be interrupted? Would you begin talking to someone who was on the phone talking with someone else? I doubt it! So why do those other activities not require the same level of focus? I doubt that a doctor is checking emails or taking phone calls in the middle of surgery. I suspect that a lawyer is not constantly checking his Blackberry while the opposing counsel is grilling his client.

7. Plan your day. By having a plan each day, you will spend your time executing rather than figuring out what to do next. If a recruiter spends three minutes in between each call deciding who to call next and has 60 calls a day, then she will spend 180 minutes (three hours a day!) thinking of what to do next as opposed to executing what is next. If the planning takes 30 minutes, then over two hours will be saved. Imagine this analogy: Two people go into a grocery store, and one has a list with exactly what to buy and the location of each item and the other has simply a mental idea of what to get. Which one do you think will accomplish the task more efficiently and effectively?

8. Practice mindfulness. When a professional basketball player shoots free throws with 20,000 people screaming at him and waving brick signs, he must get into a place of complete focus. Phil Jackson, who led the Chicago Bulls to six championships, called this “mindful basketball.” We too must learn to get in our zone through “mindful recruit-ing.” Meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, concentration exercises, and reading books on this topic can help you do just that. The pharmaceutical industry may also have the answer for you!

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9. Create blocks of similar activities. We all like diversity and variety. However, just as a good meal has a certain flow, so too should a day. Try to plan complementary activities (e.g., business development activities, operational activities, etc.) together in groups.

10. Find the right work/life balance. Just as your time at work should have focus and intensity in each activity, so should your time away from work. Being fully present in all your inter-actions also includes those outside work. When you find your mind drifting to work-related activities while with friends or family, remind yourself to focus back on the people or activity at hand. The opposite should be done while at work.

One day I returned home from work and went upstairs, where my son was busy playing Nintendo. He was so intense that only after five or six “Hello, Dylans” did he finally respond with “Hey, Dad!” I told him to come downstairs to eat dinner, and he said he was busy playing his game. When I shared with him that he could do that later, he said he could eat while playing (another multi-tasker). I said that he had played enough and that life was not only about playing Nintendo. He responded that if it was his life and he enjoyed playing, then why could it not be about just playing Nintendo? I did to him what my father did to me and his to him and said, “Because I said so. Now do what I said or I’ll _______!”

What I really thought was how wonderful it would be to live “life in Nintendo”! How cool would it be if every moment in our life would be like his experience playing Nintendo? I suspect that one day we will all look back and wonder how much time was squandered engaging in activities that were anything but “playing Nintendo.” It was at that moment about six years ago (he is now 15) that I realized the importance of “living in Nintendo”! The biggest problem I have now is that I am so focused in each interaction and experience that others find it impossible at times to get my attention. As a result, my sense of time tends to lapse, causing an issue with my promptness. So you see, with one strength comes an inherent weakness and a new set of challenges to address!

The top producer tip from the trenches this month is short but sweet! It comes from Tiffany Bamberger. Tiffany is in her 16th year at Kaye/Bassman and is a managing director. She has produced over one million dollars in search revenue in each of the last five years. She is a true market master and boasts many client relationships that are over a decade old!


Not sure if you have a hot job order? Test it out! Present one or two candidates and see the client’s responsiveness. Do not continue searching unless you get good cooperation or are working on some form of a retained basis where you are accountable to the client. This is especially good if you have never worked with that particular client. Do they call you back promptly? Are the client’s expectations realistic? If not, do not make it your focus. Move the client to the bottom of your list of prioritized job orders.

It’s okay to continue presenting candidates you come across in the market, but just do not make it a priority. However, do let the hiring manager know what effort you will be giving. Present all candidates that are a reasonable fit. Remember, if you don’t present them, another recruiter will. Someone will eventually fill the position. Don’t forget to stay in contact with the client. You would be surprised how an unrealistic, uncooperative client can quickly become your best client. The longer the job order remains open, the more realistic the clients will become. Clients recognize that if the job stays open too long, they risk losing the opening. Eventually, the pain of it being open may cause them to make it a priority, and when that happens then you can, too!

Jeff Kaye is president and CEO of Kaye/ Bassman International and Next Level Recruiting Training. This former Management Recruiter Nat-ional Recruiter of the Year has helped build the largest single-site search firm in the country, with annual search revenue in excess of $18 million. His firm has won national awards for philanthropy and workplace flexibility and also was named the best company to work for in the state of Texas in 2006 and 2007. Kaye/Bassman has retained over 30 search professionals whose annual production exceeds $400,000. The same train-ing that helped build this successful firm is now available through Next Level Recruiting Training. They are making a series of DVDs for training. The first series was on the candidate side, and the four hours were dedicated to research and recruiting. The new series, on the client side, is dedicated to marketing, effective search assignments, and fee clearing. It is over seven hours in length.

To learn how to take your practice and business to the NEXT LEVEL, please visit www.nlrtrain and view their product and service offerings. You can also email Jeff a thought or question at


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