For a stranger, getting Lucy Le on the telephone is a difficult task. Every work day she makes 30 to 50 cold calls, and she brooks few interruptions. “If I am on the phone and a number pops up I don’t recognize, I let it go to voicemail,” Le said when I spoke with her a few months ago.
Eliminating distractions is important to Le. Yet, as Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters advised in the famous song, she believes in accentuating the positive just as much as eliminating the negative. Le said she treats rejections from would-be clients not as an invitation to despair, but rather hope.
“When I get a no, I don’t take it as a no,” she said. “If I made 48 calls and get 48 nos, I think the next one will be a yes.”
Staying focused and hopeful has helped make Le a top recruiter as a millennial. Born and raised in England, she moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth region in 2009. Today she is an executive senior partner for the Lucas Group, with specialties in recruiting for accounting and finance, tax, and auditing clients.
In an interview, Le was sharp and forthright. Distraction and discouragement are sins that too many recruiters indulge in, she said. In a rich, upper-middle class English accent, she tied her success not to her innate skills, but to her adherence to a strict, but limited regimen of work.
Joe Pelayo — Q: Where were you born? What is your family situation? And how old are you?
Lucy Le — A: I was born in the United Kingdom. I am engaged to be married. And I am 32 [since August].
Q: Did you want to be a recruiter growing up in the United Kingdom?
A: You know, I didn’t want to be a headhunter per se. But the first job I had at 15 was telesales (as being younger than 16) that was the only place that would hire me. And I went to university and still worked in telesales. After college, I moved to Japan where I taught English. I enjoyed it, but didn’t see it as a long-term career option, so someone said I should be a headhunter. Would I like it?
Q: What made you a success as a recruiter?
A: I think I’m very disciplined when I’m working on a call. I don’t hang out at the water cooler with co-workers. If people come to chat with me at my desk, unless it is critical to an offer, I will ask them to come back after prime time. Some people dread making calls. I’m very focused on my sales calls. You gotta be in it to win it.
Another thing is being genuinely caring about people. I like helping people. I think people can tell if you just want to make a buck or if you are truly passionate about what you do. My CEO taught me to treat my customers like gold, always.
Q: What skills have made you a success as a recruiter?
A: Oh, put in the effort. Believe in the process and follow it. Lucas Group gave me an excellent road map for what will make you successful and I execute. What you always make sure to do is get a number of calls. You would be surprised. It’s easy to get disheartened. When I get a no, I don’t take it as a no. If I made 48 calls and get 48 nos, I think the next one will be a yes.
Q: How many calls a day do you make?
A: For the phone, it’s two to three hours of phone time, so I make 30-50 calls. Some of those might be live calls, the others might be voicemails.
Q: Are those cold calls?
A: Yes. A mixture of warm and cold. I’m pretty strict with my time. The morning is for business development and the afternoon is for candidate recruitment. It doesn’t always work that way in this crazy business but I do make sure to time block.
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Q: What do you do that your competitors and colleagues don’t?
A: I don’t think I’m a particularly good sales person, I’m just making more calls. I don’t make two calls and get coffee. I stay focused, I am “all in” and I use my time wisely. I genuinely care and I want to do the best for my clients. If I get a search then I feel obligated to fill it; I don’t want the client to be left feeling I wasn’t able to deliver.
Q: What are your hours during the day?
A: My hours vary since I am working around my clients’ schedule. I would say an average day is 9 to 6 but I am always online at night and also tend to do planning at night. I am not an early bird.
Q: Where did you learn to be disciplined with your calls?
A: In the university, in the call center, after you finished a call, the phone would automatically dial the next number. It just kept calling and calling. That taught me to get comfortable with calling and doing it consistently.
Q: What three lessons do you have for an up-and-coming recruiter, besides make lots of calls?
A: The first lesson is to be well planned. I have a list of calls for the day and know exactly whom I calling. I rely on my database and a keyword coding system to make sure I can pull up relevant contacts easily and quickly to save me planning time and “reinventing the wheel” every time I get a new search. I also have a wonderful researcher who will help me find names on LinkedIn and Zoominfo, but I will direct her as to who I am looking for… You have to plan ahead for the day.
The second thing is don’t get distracted. A lot my colleagues get distracted. I don’t. If I am on the phone and a number pops up I don’t recognize, I let it go to voicemail.
The third thing is put in the effort. If you can put in the effort, the rewards are there. This industry can be very lucrative, and you get back what you put in. It is worth it!
A related thing to putting in the effort is to seeing “no” as a good thing. I see my colleagues make 50 calls and say, “This just doesn’t work.” If you take a ‘no’ as a positive, you should be in a much better position.