We Have Seen the Enemy

During a recent webinar, recruiter and trainer Ami Givertz reminded his attendees that in your comfort zone there's no learning, and in learning there's no comfort zone.

I couldn't agree more. The painful truth is that when faced with adversity-such as a recession or a dip in the job market-our natural tendency is to retreat to a defensive position, rather than mount an all-out attack.

Building a wall might provide a sense of comfort, but the higher the wall, the more difficult it is to see over it and figure out how to fight back.

Tie the Hand that Feeds You
In my training sessions, I've seen several different kinds of walls that recruiters build to protect themselves. Ironically, it's those same walls that have the effect of limiting productivity and stifling the creative spirit. Here are three examples:

1.The autopilot wall. Typical symptoms include doing the same tasks every day-often at the same time of day-regardless of what's most important. For example, it does a recruiter no good to schedule screening interviews with candidates if there aren't any jobs they can be matched with. A better use of time might be to market for new business, or prioritize which jobs, if any, have the best chance of being filled.

2.The tunnel vision wall. In a hot job market, everyone's hiring, and all candidates are looking. But in a recession, the jobs and candidates you relied on to make placements are gone. Which means that you have to look for new companies, new candidate skill sets and new hiring managers to work with.

3.The power and control wall. I'm always amazed at how many recruiters wake up every morning and put on their strait jackets before they go to work. Here's a typical scenario:

"Gee," the hiring manager tells you. "I'd really LIKE to do business with you, but you'll need to speak to Martha in Human Resources to get approved."

Most recruiters in this scenario just go with the flow. They call Martha and end up getting the runaround. But there's a different approach.

When the manager says, "I really need your help filling this critical position, but you'll need to clear it with Martha," you say:

"Okay, here's what we'll do. I'll put you on hold for a second and we'll get a conference call going with Martha. Then YOU can tell Martha why it's important for me to work on this assignment and get the job filled. What's her extension?"

Nobody's HAPPY about a soft job market. It's like Tolstoy said in the opening sentence in Anna Karenin: That happy families are all the same, but unhappy families come in a thousand variations. I get calls and emails every day from unhappy recruiters who hope I can give them a snappy turn of phrase or a magic pill that will turn their business around. But as the comic strip character Pogo famously said, "We have seen the enemy and it is US."

I'm confident you'll survive during times of adversity. It just takes a little more work to tear down the walls.

By Bill Radin
 BlackDog Recruiting Software Inc.
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