Heres a quick math problem I remember from when I was a kid:
If there are five flies on your kitchen table and you took a fly swatter
and killed one of the flies, how many flies would be left?
The answer: One the fly you just killed. The other four flew away.
The reason I tell this little joke is because if a recruiter has five
job orders on his desk and the recruiter only has the time or the
ability to find candidates and schedule interviews for one of them, how
many job orders does the recruiter have? The answer is one.
In other words, if four of the job orders aren't worth working on or you
cant get coverage on them then for all practical purposes, they flew away
and they dont exist. Which means you need to find new clients.
With this story in mind, let's take an honest look at what you've got
going on right now.
Sizing Up Your Activity
Your workload and by extension, your profitability can usually be
described in one of three ways:
1.You are working at full capacity to fill multiple, high-quality job
orders. You have strong sendout activity; that is, the activity is
sufficient to produce multiple interviews with each job order.
2.You have at most one high-quality job order and youre getting good
coverage on it. As a result, you either have or expect to have multiple
3.You have no jobs worth working on, or cant seem to get traction on
anything.What I've described is sort of a bell curve, with most
recruiters sitting at number 2 in my description somewhere in the middle
of the curve. You've got one jobor maybe two jobs that are hot and you're
getting sendout activity to cover the jobs. In other words, youre not
killing yourself to satisfy a number of equally hot assignments, but
you're not totally without business, either.
So how do you figure out how much marketing you need to do, given your
Conventional wisdom would dictate that the amount of time and energy you
spend marketing for new business should be in inverse proportion to the
quality and the volume of activity thats currently on your desk. And I
would basically agree.
Your first obligation your highest priority should always be to take care
of your existing clients. If you've made a promise to a responsive,
realistic hiring manager to fill a job in which the company has
demonstrated a sense of urgency, then it would be foolish to be
distracted from the work at hand.
But if the quality of the work in front of you is lowand the odds of
failure are highit would make sense not to waste your time on that type
of business. Instead, it would be more productive to use your time to
find high-quality business, and keep on marketing until you find an
assignment thats strong, even if it means side stepping work that fails
to meet your high standards.
It's at the extremes of the bell curve that you really need to be
careful, and perhaps defy conventional wisdom.
"A skill in recruiting is being able to determine high quality work"For
example, if youve got high-quality work up to your eyeballs and youre
really cranking, beware of putting all your eggs in that basket. great
clients and key accounts can make you rich, but like everything in life,
they run in cycles. Eventually, even your best clients morph into
oblivion or dysfunction. Just ask any recruiter whose long-term client
suddenly brought in a consulting firm, and despite years of mutually
productive work, you're busted down to vendor management status and you're
required to cut your fee, sign a new agreement and re-direct all your
communications through the proverbial Myrtle in HR.
Making Something Out of of Nothing
On the flip side, if you have nothing of value to work on, it would only
seem logical that you devote 100 percent of your time marketing until
the perfect job order comes along.
I have a slightly different perspective. I feel that there are times in
which it makes sense to work a low-quality or low-probability job order.
The reason is that if you have something tangible to work on, it puts
you into your candidate marketplace with something to talk about.
By making contact, discussing jobs and interviewing candidates, you are
now connecting with people and building your candidate files with people
who can educate you, work with you as a potential MPC, or even share
information about whos hiring, especially if the candidate is active in
The trick is to not lose sight of your goal of trading up; and that once
you find a hot job to work on, you shift your attention to filling that
obligationand that job order. And strong, high-profit job orders are the
lifeblood of any successful recruiter.