How to Make Big Money with Small Numbers

Anthony had a goal: To make lots of placements.

And he had a plan: Work hard and fill the funnel. He figured that if he had plenty of jobs to work on-plus a ready supply of candidates-it was only a matter of time before something clicked.

And yet, the more jobs he tried to fill, the fewer placements he made.

So, Anthony stepped it up. Instead of submitting five or six resumes for every open position, he sent 10 or 15 for consideration. But the extra placements never came.

The Law of Subtraction
Anthony's plan was sound-up to a point. He correctly identified recruiting as a numbers game. But what he didn't know was that numbers don't exist in a vacuum.

To win the numbers game, you can't just roll the dice, you have to load the dice. Otherwise, the numbers can work against you.

For example, if I were trying to fill a job in which I was competing with five other recruiters, the odds are that someone else's candidate would get the job. In the interest of self-preservation, I've learned to sidestep searches in which I'm at a statistical disadvantage and concentrate my efforts on those for which I control the candidate flow.

Scrooge Had It Right
Similarly, if I were to submit resumes to an indifferent employer who had no sense of urgency, it wouldn't matter how many resumes I produced. I've found that the more resumes you throw at the employer, the more you reduce their value.

There's no shortage of candidates in the job market. And there's no shortage of jobs. In effect, both have become commodities, instantly and easily accessible to employers and recruiters alike, courtesy of job boards, Boolean searches, directories and social networks.

What's in short supply is the expertise it takes to weed out the jobs that have a low probability of being filled and reduce, rather than expand the number of candidates under consideration. If the employer can't choose between five qualified candidates, you've got a problem.

Selective Generosity
In that scarcity and value are joined at the hip, I suggest you give away that which costs you very little and hold onto what makes you money. Here are some examples:

Give away a:
 Ten-minute consultation with a prospective employer;
 Set of interviewing tips designed to improve your candidate's performance;
 Newsletter filled with useful articles; or a
 White paper that tracks salary trends in your industry.

But refrain from:
 Writing a lengthy job order until the employer can demonstrate a sense of urgency;
 Spending an hour interviewing a candidate who may not be qualified; or
 Submitting resumes before scheduling interview times in advance.

A pet peeve: Telling the employer that you have -several candidates in mind-as you're writing up the assignment.

To suggest that candidates are abundant only lowers the perceived value of your service and raises the expectation that you can always"find more people." As Anthony learned, numbers are fine in the abstract, but when put to specific use, they yearn for context.

Whenever I think that filling a position is going to be easy, I remind myself that each job is unique and if it weren't devilishly difficult to find-and place-the right candidate, the employer wouldn't need my services.

By Bill Radin
 BlackDog Recruiting Software Inc.
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