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
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
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
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
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.