My New Mentors

Last month, I found five new mentors.

They opened my eyes to fresh ideas and validated some existing viewpoints. They challenged me, inspired me and gave me renewed confidence.

I'm grateful to my new mentors, and wish I could thank them personally for all they've done. But unfortunately, I've never met my mentors; they exist in my imagination, courtesy of the five books I just finished reading.

None of my mentors are connected to recruiting in any way; and their backgrounds are very different: A real estate expert, a billionaire investor, a political pollster, a British prime minister and a top military strategist. And yet, their wisdom hits the mark, and applies to nearly every aspect of our trade.

Here are few of the things my mentors taught me:

1. A proven system beats a creative mind.
Whatever you do, someone has probably done it before, only better. So why not model your behavior on what already works? By building on others' success -- rather than trying to piece it together from scratch -- you'll form good habits and save yourself years of puzzling over how to win a game that's already been won.

(Source: The Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller)

2.Bad business drives out good.
Recruiters often ask the wrong questions. Instead of asking, "I submitted 10 resumes two weeks ago and haven't heard back from the employer. Why don't they have a sense of urgency?" they should be asking, "How can I find new clients who really need my services?"

Many problems are self-inflicted, and can be avoided by simply sidestepping people and situations that bring an element of risk to the table. The more baggage you carry for others, the slower you'll reach your own destination.

(Source: The Real Warren Buffett: Managing Capital, Leading People by James O'Loughlin)

3.Your words make a difference.
I met a recruiter who was having difficulty finding sales people to sell commercial roofing and flooring materials. It seems he couldn't get prospective candidates to listen to his pitch.

I suggested replacing the phrase "commercial roofing and flooring materials" with "high-end architectural products." As a result, people began to listen, and his success rate went up.

(Source: Words that Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear by Dr. Frank Luntz)

4. Have faith -- but also have a backup plan.
During the darkest hours of World War II, Winston Churchill implored the English to fight on the beaches, in the fields and in the streets and never surrender. But he also added that if the British Isles were lost, he would rally the new world, "with all its power and might," to step forth to the rescue.

(Source: Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship by Jon Meacham)

5. A hard-sell has its drawbacks.
Recruiters are paid advocates, and our natural tendency is to sell, sell, sell. What we're selling may be beneficial, but if the people we sell to can't buy into the value -- and feel comfortable or respected -- we can expect resistance, resentment or even hostility.

(Source: Blueprint for Action: The Pentagon's New Map by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Ph.D.)

Whatever our role is professionally, personally or spiritually, we can feel fortunate whenever flesh-and-blood mentors appear in our lives. With their guidance and inspiration, great things can be accomplished.

But for the times we're alone, we can also stand on the shoulders of giants -- courtesy of the books we read and the power of our imagination.

By Bill Radin
 BlackDog Recruiting Software Inc.
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