It’s Monday morning, and our well-intentioned recruiter, dedicated to self-improvement and big billings, is back from a recruiting conference where she attended a training session. This session was touted as a must attend event where one could learn all one needed to become a big biller. People who had attended sessions delivered by this trainer raved about how great it was to be a part of one of them. They claimed that they learned a great deal and that this trainer was extremely good with the audience. Every effort and due diligence about this session seemed to point out that if you wanted to become more productive, improve your skills, create wealth, and invest your time wisely, this was a must-see event.
As is often the case, this session was available, among others, at a weekend conference offered by an organization that was well respected in the industry. Our recruiter, bent on getting the biggest bang for her buck, pored over the conference material, speaker bios, and session descriptions to cherry-pick those sessions that best addressed the areas where she felt she needed the greatest improvement to meet her goal of becoming a top-producing recruiter. After careful consideration and gathering the opinions of others, she opted to attend the session.
Since there were other sessions where she wanted to be in attendance, there was a conflict in scheduling. The one session she felt compelled to attend was concurrent with another she wanted to visit. The “conference-meisters” had wisely scheduled all speakers in back-to-back sessions, thus making it possible for people to attend the sessions where a scheduling conflict occurred. She wanted very much to attend the first of the two sessions offered by this coveted trainer, but so she could attend both sessions, she opted to attend the second one instead.
As soon as the first session she had chosen ended, she raced down the hall to assure herself of a good position at the doorway and a good seat during this crowded training session. This legendary trainer’s first session was running long. Our recruiter’s anxiety, brought about by waiting her turn, was eased by the incredible enthusiasm, laughter, kudos, and praises voiced by those departing the first session. Finally the room cleared out and she had her chance. She raced to the front of the room and grabbed a great seat.
The trainer stepped up to the platform and the entire audience was fixated on him as he delivered a step-by-step, proven process. Details concerning the circumstances, the conditions, and time-tested criteria were clearly explained. The speaker’s eloquent style and humorous nature struck a chord with every recruiter present. Insights in his offered anecdotes documented that this was a speaker who had real hands-on experience. The room burst into laughter every few minutes. Notes were taken furiously. Everyone swarmed the speaker with questions at the conclusion of the session. Training materials offered by the speaker were cleared off the table by eager recruiters. Our recruiter left the session knowing that her decision to make this a priority was a beneficial one.
The rest of the conference went very well. Other sessions attended by our recruiter were enlightening and entertaining, and brought a sense of real value to the overall conference experience and investment. At the dinners and luncheons, she overheard many positive comments by her peers who had attended this coveted session. The social gatherings, dinners and luncheons, and hallway dialogues were considered a great networking tool by our recruiter. She sought trading relationships with many peers in attendance. Her conference bag was stuffed with training handouts and business cards of those with whom she had networked.
On the flight home, she contemplated the extensive exposure to experiences and insights she had gained. She made a commitment to herself to apply all she had learned come Monday morning. Armed with new tools and deal-making techniques, she knew she was now well on her way to becoming a top-producing recruiter.
So here we are again. It’s Monday morning. It’s 8 a.m. and it’s time to apply all the secrets, techniques, and skills she acquired at the conference. As she reached for the phone, a rising sense of panic engulfed her. It now seemed that what she so clearly understood in the sessions had faded out of her consciousness. She put the phone down, reached for her conference bag, and furiously reviewed notes and handouts from the session. What had happened? Why wasn’t she, when it counted the most, able to apply what seemed to make so much sense in the session, and afterward?
She spent the next several hours grasping for every recollection from the session. The more she tried to apply the mastery and techniques presented, the more frustrated and disappointed she became. By lunch, she had all but given up on her dedication to improvement. While she ate her salad and drank iced tea in the balmy fall sunshine, she concluded that she was doing pretty well. After all, she didn’t live to work. Next time she’d take better notes.
Upon her return to the office, she realized she had several phone messages from clients and candidates. She raced back to her desk to return these calls quickly. As the heat of the desk increased and the rest of the day passed by, the session she had attended, the insights she had gained, and the commitment she had made faded into memory.
Our recruiter’s story is a common one. I have attended a long list of conferences in the past. I will likely be in attendance at many conferences to come. As a recruiting practitioner, I attend many training sessions, keynotes, and social networking events. During my formative years as a recruiter, I attended all the training sessions I could find. I took copious notes. I bought training materials. I devoured the material over and over again. From my experience and from the experience of many with whom I have worked as a consultant, there seems to be a major disconnect between what we hear in a training session and what we are able to apply in the aftermath. This challenge is not unique to recruiters. From professional development to self-improvement, opportunities abound to gain training. The Internet, multimedia, stand-up training, and other forums offer a variety of training and development.
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As fall approaches, we are confronted with many opportunities to attend conferences and training seminars in our recruiting industry. Owners, managers, and sole practitioners are well advised to make the investment in participating in these conferences and seminars. In your due diligence and evaluation of these training and development experiences, I recommend that you apply your own map of needs for improvement when choosing which sessions to attend. Be very honest with yourself about where you need to improve. Conduct positive evaluation and analysis sessions with your staff members and recruiters. Openly discuss the training that you see offered and direct yourself and members of your office into those sessions that best address their needs.
If your motivation to attend training is to be entertained, there are a multitude of very energetic, humorous, and entertaining speakers, and many industry conferences and sessions. This is not a bad thing in any way; however, it is not the answer to development of professional skills mastered by top producers. The exposure to experienced recruiters is a tremendous foundation in developing recruiting mastery. What becomes equally critical to your success in becoming a top producer is the personal mentoring and coaching necessary to develop you as a unique individual and recruiting practitioner. As I conduct training seminars and deliver my messages, I am always encouraged when I see people taking notes and paying attention. Having spoken to thousands of recruiters in the past, I am equally aware that many of those notes end up in that year’s conference bag, never to be seen or referred to again.
Establishing a relationship with a skilled coach and mentor is a prerequisite to developing yourself as a top producer. Every big biller with whom I have had the pleasure and privilege to work formulated the foundation of their skills and abilities by interacting with someone who had been there and done that and possessed the unique ability to develop the skills in others.
There are countless valuable tools available to recruiters today. Each offers its own advantages, when applied wisely. Not one of these individual tools or systems can live up to its claims of productivity merely on the basis of reading directions or listening to an accompanying CD. Top producers wisely choose from among this myriad of offerings those tools that can best serve their unique needs. Of greatest importance, however, is that fact that they also seek practical advice and mentoring, achieving a balance between the use of these tools and personal/artful execution.
One of the barriers or obstacles many face in achieving a coaching relationship is the lack of available personnel within your office or enterprise. Owners and managers, often working their own desk as well, rarely have the time or disposition to function as a coach. Sole practitioners are, by definition, alone. Regardless of your circumstances, there are many folks in our industry who possess the skills to develop you.
Keep in mind, though, that the adage “Training without coaching is entertainment” can be either a motivation to seek competent coaching from industry experts and trainers or a cause for regret when you forget what you learned.
Doug Beabout, CPC, CSP, has 30 years of recruiting experience. He has a very active schedule of speaking and training at various forums worldwide. Additionally, Doug maintains his skills and hones his recruiting insights at his own search and recruiting desk. He currently serves a unique niche within the military/industrial complex. With the support of two highly skilled researchers, Doug continues to maintain his status as a top producer.