Weekly Desk Strategy

Each week on your desk needs a customized strategy. This is how you do it. You look at your entire week of pending deals and follow these steps. Do this at the beginning of the week. Spend some quiet time thinking about your clients and candidates and do it while you have your activity list in front of you. (Your activity list is the printout of search assignments, dates of candidate presentations, dates of interviews, and candidate names). Look at this sheet and focus on those items that are either placement possibilities or events which leads to a closed deal.

1. First, ask yourself this question: What pending deals have the highest probability of closing the soonest? You always want to spend your time chasing those deals with the highest likelihood of closing; not the biggest fees. Invest your time in sure things. You win in business with singles and doubles – rarely home runs. Your week consists of ten time slots of four hours each. They are rare and precious and deserve a few minutes of strategic thought. This is the greatest frustration of the business. If we place our time on the wrong priority then there is a double loss: not only do we lose out on a fee; we lose our time and can never get it back. Don’t get upset when your deals fall apart and you are left penniless and frustrated. Instead be thankful for this lesson of proper time management that you will never forget. Once you spend weeks and weeks on search activity that results in nothing but the empty spinning of your wheels you will then appreciate how important a weekly strategy is, and you will also realize how much control you really have over your desk. (Note: this thought model applies primarily to direct-hire staffing and contingency search where compensation is dependent upon placement).

2. When you evaluate candidates, evaluate them the same way, looking at which qualified candidate has the highest likelihood of providing the best value to the client, not the biggest fee to you. Which candidate has the highest likelihood of both performing and the highest interest level in making a move?

3. Sometimes you need to test the urgency level of your searches. If your compensation is conditional upon you being able to perform, then a requisite of this model is to find out which clients will actually hire someone from you. Last week one of the search consultants in my mentorship program said he had spent so much time with one client and was now at risk of not closing other deals on his desk because the search still required a major investment of his time. I told him, “Tell your client you’ve gone as far as you can on a non-exclusive basis. Tell him that the best way you can help him fill the position is for him to work exclusively with you. If he doesn’t give you exclusivity, then you’ve just saved yourself two weeks of your life and can work on all those other deals that will keep the cash flow coming in. If he does give it to you then now you know that the need is still there and that he will hire someone from you. All you have to do then is find the candidate.” It worked. He emailed me back saying he had the exclusive and was able to carve out blocks of his time to dedicate on the search. He just increased the likelihood of closing a deal by a factor of ten because now he is working on an assignment that has eliminated a large amount of variables over which he has no control, the competition from other search firms.

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Bonus Tip: The manager who birthed me in the business nine years ago, Jim Vockley who now manages a 60-person mega-search firm, told me to always find out “What’s happening next and when.” When you analyze each deal, ask yourself “What is happening next, and when?” As you go through each process of the search, that single question will help you to stay on track and keep your desk on a firm strategy.

If you work retained search, your thinking needs to be even more strategic because now you are held accountable for each block of time by your clients as measured by the results of the search. Your model and mindset shift from “which block of time is going to pay me” to “which block of time serves the client with the most impact.”

Remember that you have more control on your desk than you realize. Think in terms of ‘results first’ when you strategize your week and you’ll be amazed at how much more successful you feel and how much more successful you will become.

Scott Love increases company profit margins by working as a management consultant, author, and professional speaker with special emphasis in the executive search and staffing industries. He has been quoted in major city newspapers, national trade magazines, international business magazines, and the Wall Street Journal. He has his own weekly business column in the Gannett News Service. His free website for recruiters has over 50 free tips and tools to help you bill more. www.recruitingmastery.com.

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