When I first started in the business back in 1994, I was fortunate to hear Peter Leffkowitz speak at a recruiting seminar in Los Angeles. One of the sections of his training that particularly stood out to me was his approach to time management and planning. He described the two main ways that recruiters tend to work a desk:
Reactively working a desk: This is the method that 80% of recruiters use to work a desk. This method can best be described as S-T-R-E-S-S. This is the land of soaring peaks followed by deep, dark valleys. It entails little planning, sporadic execution and lots of reacting.
Reacting to incoming email, incoming calls, interruptions, client demands etc. It involves chasing deals, working from adrenaline and a production-oriented focus. Essentially it’s a neurotic way to work a desk and often leads to burnout.
Proactively working a desk: This is the method that 20% of recruiters use to work a desk. There is a subtle but powerful difference in focus. Instead of simply focusing on production, proactive recruiters concentrate on building the activity that generates production. This involves planning and then executing from a proactive stance.
Using a proactive approach to your desk means that you focus on tasks that are important but not urgent. Of course you will still have time-sensitive tasks but you will have fewer “emergencies” if you work in a more proactive, systematic way. This takes practice and does not come naturally to most recruiters (including me).
To be proactive, you must act, particularly when there is NOT a gun to your head. Here are some examples of non-urgent but very important activities that you must act upon:
- Daily planning;
- Daily Marketing;
- Tracking numbers;
- Evaluating results;
- Strategic planning;
- Hitting your activity goals;
- Professional development.
Food For Thought
Can you think of one activity in your personal life that, if you did it superbly well and consistently, it would have significant positive results in your life?
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Here are some examples:
- Doing 30 minutes of exercise each morning.
- Doing a 15 minute spiritual practice each morning.
- Eating healthier.
- Getting more sleep.
- Spending quality time with family and friends.
Now ask yourself: are these tasks urgent or important? The answer of course is that they are all important, but not urgent. You will have to have the discipline to act on them- they generally won’t act upon you.
In order to avoid the peaks and valleys of production, you must spend some time each day in each important activity that leads to placements. This means some sourcing, some recruiting, some marketing, some closing etc. If you plan these tasks out the night before, you are much more likely to get them finished the next day.
In closing, here are the three elements of a workable planning system:
- An ideal daily template. This is your “best day” scenario — not a rigid requirement. Post this template on your desk. This is your fall back compass for when you get off course.
- A system for planning. You have to have a workable, realistic system for planning. That may be your ATS, a legal pad, or some combo of the two.
- A commitment to actually plan and develop this skill. This skill is just that — a skill — it takes practice and focus in order to “stick.” No two people are the same; one size does not fit all. So you need to experiment until you come up with your personal planning system.