Pat Kane Captures The Yukon Quest

I look at this photo by Pat Kane taken at the 2015 Yukon Quest and think to myself, “This is one of those pictures that is truly worth a 1,000 words.”

Amongst the chaos of the Breaburn check point an athlete and a coach (a working dog and handler) find a small space to gain comfort and strength from each other.  Myself as an outside observers can only witness the moment caught in this photo.

To be the athlete and coach in this moment we watch them lean on each other to overcome the exhaustion, share in the pride of coming this far and see them face an agonizing choice.  Keep going, together or stay behind while the other goes on.  Either choice is full reward, risk and heartbreak.  None of us can make their choice for them.   This is their race.  This is their experience.  Either way the choice is right for them.

As a distance witness, I am, inspired to see the athlete and the coach even attempt something so grueling as the Yukon Quest.  The years of training they have done to come this far, the distance covered and the distance to be covered is daunting.  My mind bends when I add ever changing obstacle of weather to the years and the distance.  My inspiration and awe grows, for every moment I look at this picture.  What also grows is my panic.  The panic about facing the decisions they are going to have to make together.

This picture has moved me from being just a witness.  I am now the coward, seeing two Sentient beings coming together for an experience I could only wish to be a part of.

Thank you Pat Kane for being there to bare witness and thank you to all the Dog Sledding Teams for doing the impossible for the rest of us!

Rebecca B. Sargeant

To See More Information about the Yukon Quest and see more of Pat Kane photos chase them on Facebook:

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Posted by on February 8, 2015 in Uncategorized


Time For Recruitment Professionals To Look At Their Own Careers

I spent some time speaking with a person who specializes in Mergers and Acquisitions of Staffing and Recruiting Firms. He shared with me the recent trend in valuing a firm is to look beyond the executive team, beyond the client base and beyond the candidate pool. The valuation is coming down to the Recruitment Team itself. When an organization has one or more Recruitment Professionals filling orders, that more valuable than a multimillion dollar client list. This makes any and all Recruitment Professionals a very important, if not the most important asset to a third party agency.

After hearing this piece of information I thought about all of the career evaluations that I perform on a day-to-day basis and the amount of professionals that find themselves in unsatisfactory environments. Most of these career evaluations are based on three things; take home wages, what they’re billing, and how long they’ve been in a position, but there are a few things that you can look at on your own to determine whether or not it’s time you’re being treated like an asset.

Are you overworked and underpaid as a Recruitment Professional? Let’s start with your wages. In the first three years of your career, $60K a year is a   good take home wage. After those initial few years, the lowest you should tip is $80K and can expect up to $120K a year. Recruiters that run 360 desks are making even more, spending 60% of their time speaking with clients and the rest interviewing candidates. If you’re doing all of this along with securing new clients and making less than $150K a year, you’re not being paid what you’re worth. I spoke with a recruiter who is managing $10 million in clients and in comparison taking home a measly $165K a year.

Remember that your salary should be dependent on your billings.

You should feel like you are in a place where you are most productive and being set up to succeed. Recruiting professionals are most productive when they have a standard commission structure. If you’re not seeing a financial report and management can’t explain the standards, you have nowhere to base your progress. You should be provided with KPI reports and management should have clear metrics. Look at it this way; your manager should act as a fitness coach. The faster you run, the more you lift and the higher you jump, the better THEY look. Your goals should be their goals, and the relationship should be mutually beneficial.

Management should be investing in you and your work, which means investing in your workspace and providing the basics. This includes computers, phone, Internet and access to the necessary websites. If your manager expects you to find quality candidates out of thin air, they don’t respect what you do for them.

In the summer, I had a recruiter call me from the middle of Florida asking me whether or not she should leave work when the air conditioning is in disrepair. In a state where the average summer temperature can range from 80-90F, working in a place that is too hot to function is unacceptable and ultimately disrespectful.

Are you expected to work 65 hours, five days a week? Is there an opportunity to work from home? With the emergence of telecommuting, management not allowing the option to work from home can be a sign of micro-management or a work place that doesn’t want to evolve. Does your manager monitor your bathroom usage? Does your manager block certain websites that you may need to complete your job? This micro-management is a sign of distrust and is completely unreasonable. Remember, you were hired for a reason and you’re an asset to the company. You’re an adult and deserve to be treated like one.

Many don’t leave a bad situation because they operate under the idea that the devil they know is better than the devil that don’t. They’re afraid to leave the people that gave them their start and the friends that they’ve made in their current position. If you’re not treated with respect and are not valued as an asset, it’s time to move on.

Curta has created a short quiz that can give you a better idea of where you stand right now in your current job position. Of course, just like in any situation, there is no black and white answer and even unsatisfactory situations can be adjusted to make them a better environment.

There is no recruiting utopia, but you deserve to get as close to one as you can.


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Posted by on November 4, 2014 in Recruiter to Recruiter


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The Grass Isn’t Always Greener On The Corporate Side.

By David Mandar ~

Grass is Green


Thinking of going corporate? With my experience as a recruiter’s recruiter (and 18 years working both agency & corporate), I offer a unique viewpoint to candidates looking to take on a career on either side of the fence.

Lately, what I’m seeing is a fair number of recruiters working in staffing agencies looking for career opportunities on the corporate side. They have career or personal goals that they feel will be fulfilled pursuing the Talent Acquisition pathway, like financial security of a steady salary and a variety of future career opportunities.

However, before they decide, I would like to shed some light on some of these common misconceptions or at least put it into perspective:


  1. There are more career opportunities in a corporate environment:

Traditionally, recruitment agencies are flat organizations. In smaller companies, everyone runs a desk all the way up to the owner. When you get into the larger (giant) agencies you start to see full-time management and operational roles, but generally no more than a couple of management layers. The top layer is reserved for the owners. This is one of the factors that lead to the perception that there are more career path in opportunities in corporate acquisition environments.

But in most cases with corporate positions, you join a small Talent Acquisition Team that is managed by or part of the Human Resources department. The only way up the corporate ladder would require you to leave the talent team to pursue more traditional HR roles.

In small companies you may be the only recruiter. You will have a great title like Recruitment Manager, but have nowhere to go from there. In large international companies, you may be part of a regional team with one or two team members reporting to a manager somewhere else in the country or even the world. What this means is you may find yourself in a position where you have little to no influence on the companies hiring strategy and be left with no career stepping stones unless you pack up and move to the corporate office location.

The good thing is the industry is changing and Corporate Talent Acquisition is becoming more strategic every year. This means more budget and career opportunities. So question the career opportunities before you make that change, and if necessary, decide if you are willing to wait.


  1. Corporate environments offer a more consistent Income:

Every Recruiter knows the stress of starting a new month with no production in their book. Some have the luxury of a negligible base salary, but many work on 100% commission, and even the good recruiters feel the pinch when a couple of placements fail to close as expected. I guess after years of this, some recruiters feel the sweet pull of a steady base salary with benefits and paid vacation. Recruiters with new families feel the pull even more.

It’s usually a financial trade-off for security. Corporate Talent roles do pay base salaries and some even come with bonuses. The shortfall is the market rates on salaries are still playing catch-up. The opportunity to make six-figure incomes in a traditional Talent Acquisition role is rare, even with a strong bonus.

The exceptions are industries with highly competitive struggles for talent. In these, hiring is more strategic to the business, such as in product engineering or sales, and therefore is compensated accordingly. Recruiters with experience in these industries are also highly sought after.

So the question is, do you go for a potentially high income or mid-range safe income?


  1. There is more stability during recession in a corporate environment:

The term “recession proof” has been batted around quite a bit in the staffing industry. The fear of recessions is real as many staffing agencies have experienced downsizing during economic down-turns.

The misconception is that corporate roles are safer and can ride out slow hiring periods. The reality is that some of the first cuts during downsizing include the corporate recruitment team. If there is no hiring planned for two to three quarters, most recruiters will find themselves out on the street.

To truly make yourself or your business “recession proof”, you have to practice diversification. That means having many clients that span several verticals or geographic regions. If you focus on one vertical, Finance for instance, you will be able to span many different industries without difficulty. This way if one industry gets hit with a recession, the others will float you through.

If you are running a highly niche model you need to be aware of the industry trends and plan accordingly. If you are strategic to your clients’ business’, you will be included in resource planning and will know who will be hiring over the next six months and who will be locking the doors.


  1. Corporate environments offer more strategic hiring opportunities:

Many believe you can only be part of a strategic hiring team if you work in a corporate role. This is only true if you view the role of a recruiter strictly as filling jobs for your client. If instead you understand how to become an extension of your clients hiring team, you can participate in very meaningful and strategic hiring projects.

And don’t think that just because corporate recruiters are able to chat over coffee every day with hiring managers that they are more strategic. Corporate recruiters can also be guilty of just chasing requirements. It happens to everyone when we get busy. And who isn’t busy?

Whether you are an agency or corporate recruiter, think of it as the art of getting to the boardroom table with your client. To be truly strategic you need to get involved as early as possible on the requirement. This means before they are even needed. Get involved in the business planning meetings that discuss resource management. This is where you start requirement gathering, set salary range, expected time to hire and any challenges that will go with attracting the right talent. This is where you get the time to plan your hiring strategy. This is when you become strategic. Being on the agency side does not exclude you from providing this service. It just means you have to work a little harder and smarter to get to the table.

So before you start thinking the grass is greener on the corporate side, pause, think it over. There are many things to consider and I couldn’t say to take one thing over the other. It comes down to what you want. I will go with my standard answer to the standard question, “what should I do?

Do what you love!

Everything else will take care of itself.

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Posted by on October 29, 2014 in Independent Recruiter's Reality


To niche or not to niche, let me answer the question.

By David Mandar

Every week agency owners describe to me their challenges in meeting their goals. It would probably surprise you to hear that among the vast number of agencies in North America, their goals and challenges, no matter what size or description, are relatively the same. One of the most asked questions and common challenge is:

“How can our company differentiate itself from our competition?”

Now, many would list tons of marketing and branding techniques that would help make a bigger splash on social media, get more eyeballs on your job postings and even increase your in-bound client calls. All positive outcomes. But in the long run, everyone will be doing this. So, ultimately what business owners are really asking for is a way to be “better” than the competition. To stand out.

During my corporate years, I used get marketing calls from agencies trying to win my business. They would all say things like, we are the best, largest, fastest, etc. The fact that they described themselves the same way made it cliché. Fluff. No meaning, no power, and certainly no sale.

As a hiring manager, all I wanted was an agency that specialized in an industry, a trade or a technology related to my hiring needs. Why? Because to me, an agency with a specialization set an expectation about the level of service and quality of candidates they would provide me.

Here are the differences I experienced —as a client— when working with niche agencies;

  1. They reduced any confusion and increased the quality of each candidate sourced. Their ability to gather requirements and easily understand my company’s needs created job requirements that truly captured the skills and experience needed for the position I needed to fill.
  2. They increased the possibility of attracting top talent and reduced declined offers. Their knowledge of the industry helped establish a competitive compensation range.
  3. My project planning and team workload management was more accurate. Their knowledge of the industry helped set expectations on start dates and other variables.
  4. They helped keep my company competitive. Their knowledge of the industry provided strategic information on trends and competitors.
  5. They increased the success rate on hires. Their experience in the market provided a large talent pool of industry focused resources. They could get referrals on tough-to-find resources. The speed of turnaround was excellent. Sometimes the same day.
  6. They gave me access to some great passive candidates. Their relationships with industry experts were strong as consultants viewed them as experts and preferred working with them. They always knew who was available or interested in discussing a career change.

There are more benefits and even a few negative points, like they aren’t a “one stop shop”, but the pros for me always outweighed the cons. As a hiring authority, I am willing to pay more for the right service.

If you are looking to up your game and differentiate yourself from the pack, focus on your strengths and market your services in a specific niche. Otherwise be prepared to fight over “table scraps” with the other generalists in your region.


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Posted by on October 15, 2014 in Building a Staffing Agency


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Beat The Recruiter’s Bad Rap

by Rebecca Sargeant

Tenure recruiter

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On July 23, James Rossiter posted a blog on LinkedIn called, “It’s time to stop using recruitment agencies.” Within 24 hours this blog had been seen by 28,239 people, there were 293 Likes, 416 comments and it had been shared 1,129 times. Anyone working with Social Media will tell you these numbers are only a fraction of the people that are talking about the blog.

What was interesting for me was I found James’s post moments after I had a similar conversation with a software development company. They were echoing James’s frustration and irritation with the Staffing and Recruiting industry as a whole.

We may not agree with James’ opinion of our industry. We may dismiss him because of his grammar. We might even try to discredit him because of his background. What we can’t do is ignore James’s message:

“I am sick of Recruiters.”

This message is coming to us from everywhere. James just took the time to blog it for you, your clients and your candidates. In the past, we could hang up on anyone, dismiss them as crazy and move with no repercussion. Good or bad, depending which side of the fence you romp, Social Media is revolutionizing how our clients and candidates hold us accountable. In today’s environment anyone can blog, post or open a discussion to deliberate about our overall short comings as an industry.

The short comings come from lots of places, such as the past and even novice recruiters either still learning the ropes or due to lack of proper leadership, that none of us will be able to stop. As we mature into our recruitment profession, we learn 5 simple principles that help us develop better relationships that net us a comfortable living and a good reputation no matter what the other bad apples are doing. New recruiters to the industry, pay attention:


5 principles of reputable recruiting shared by tenured recruiters


“Nothing happens overnight.” Being a recruiter is not about running as fast as you can, getting all the orders you can, only to filling the industry standard of only 33% of them. Tenured and reputable recruiters know they have to invest time in developing a trusted working relationship with everyone. These relationships do not happen overnight. You need your client’s time to answer questions about the opening, they will need to give you feedback in a timely manner, and then you will prove the time they have spent is worth it by providing them quality candidates. Take the time to provide them value. And what about candidate relationships? They are key to your placements. Candidates are sick of recruiters offering them “opportunities.” You will have to take time repairing the damage a junior recruiter has created with their smash and grab approach. You will also have to gain their trust to get vital information. By slowing down, recruiters become more strategic, have access to better quality orders and make more money tapping into candidates others have missed or dismissed.

“Shut up and listen.” As recruiters, we are always hoping the person we are talking to will be the one for the job, and sometimes we hope so much that we push for the correct answer not the real answer. When pushing for the correct answer, we don’t hear all the other things people are saying. Tenured recruiters have learned that people are more than willing to share valuable information with you if you would just sit and listen to them. By being an ‘active listener’, you will quickly become the person people turn to for advice and solutions.

“Respect is a two way street.” Many times recruiters are working in the best interest of the client. At the same time those clients don’t have any respect for that recruiter. This situation often leaves the recruiter with egg on his face. Especially when the recruiter has a candidate for the client and the client is not available for their call. Good candidates are left with the impression the recruiter over promised. To avoid this situation, reputable recruiters establish relationships based on mutual respect. They present themselves as the hiring consultant they are, they offer solutions, gain buy in and follow thru. At any point if there is a breakdown, they quickly address it with an open and frank conversation. By being respectful of others, we should expect the same in return.

“Documentation is KING.” As recruitment professionals, we work very hard to ensure everyone’s success. What we don’t do is take the time to demystify our job by explaining the recruitment process. In fact, if you asked any average recruiter to whiteboard the recruitment process, you might be surprised what they show you. Tenured recruiters have a flow chart or a document readily available they can give their clients and candidates that clearly outlines their recruitment process. By taking the time to document your process you show people you know the way and you can help them achieve success too.

“Do your research before anything else.” Tenured recruiters hate being caught not having all the information. They have learned over the years information is power and what you don’t know is really going to hurt you. Spending time researching how a company works, digging into people’s backgrounds and asking hard questions is what tenured recruiters have built their long successful careers on. By taking the time to investigate companies and people before you call, you will lay the platform for a more in-depth conversation about how you as a recruiter can help them.

These 5 principles of recruiting are not outlined in any one recruiter handbook. They are simple universal truths that many tenured recruiters develop on their own. They would simply read this blog and nod their heads in agreement. Learning these principles may come with lot bumps and bruises but, when they are learned, a Headhunter will always make a comfortable and happy living no matter what, because they actually help companies hire the right candidates and people find the right jobs.



Rebecca Sargeant Curta

Rebecca is the Recruiter’s Coach at Curta, where the mission is to raise the bar in the global recruiting and staffing industry and assist Recruiters in exceeding their business goals. Rebecca is currently meeting the 360 Desk Challenge of building a desk from scratch and targeting a $100K by October 1st using Curta methodology. “Because those who teach well, definitely can!”



Bad Boy Smoking photo credit: Christophe Verdier via photopin cc


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4 Quick Ways To Find ‘Job Reqs’

by David Mandar

Find job reqs


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Pick up new business fast

So it’s been another busy week. You placed a couple candidates while a few others did not make the cut. You look at your desk and realize that every requirement has either been closed, filled or already has enough candidates to fill the pipeline. You have no new business. So, now what?

If you want something to work on, you will have to go get it. How do you drum up new business fast? Here are 4 easy ways to pick up leads that I use to create new business quickly:

1. Call your existing clients. This one is straight forward. Take the opportunity to reach out to clients whom you already have connections with. You may not have successfully filled one of their positions yet, but you have worked on requirements for them. Remember, don’t jump in right away with, “Hey! You have anything I can work on?” Instead, get caught up, build on the relationship. Even go so far as to asking them out for coffee or lunch plus invite other hiring managers along. This will increase the chances of picking up new business across the entire organization. If you don’t pick up any new requirements at least you worked on the relationship and maybe made new contacts.

2. Contact recent prospect companies. Make those dreaded “Cold Calls” again, but this time they will probably remember your name from a voicemail or a past conversation. Again, work on the relationship. Get caught up on what their company is doing. Ask what their short term business goals are and how you may be able to help with perm or contract staff options.

3. Connect with active candidates. Reach out to candidates who are actively looking for new opportunities. Get up to date on their search and find out where they have interviewed recently and/or which companies to their knowledge is hiring. This should be done on a regular basis as part of your business development research. These are not always the best leads, but will give you an idea of who is hiring and for what positions. Getting hiring managers’ names will help in connecting with the prospects.

4. Check Social Media. If you don’t already know, most if not all of the user groups on social media sites like LinkedIn have areas where the members can post job requirements. If the position is posted by the company’s management or HR, they may not have a recruitment team and may need your help. Reach out and offer it. This is better than looking at postings on Monster/Workopolis/Dice, etc., as you can actually see the person who is posting the position. When you reach out, remember to pick up the phone. Don’t try to do this through e-mail (and remember spamming laws like CASL). It’s just like cold calling, but with something to talk about.

Finally, if you find yourself in this situation, you probably haven’t been spending enough quality time every day creating new business. Remember to do all of the little things every day to keep your client and candidate funnel full so you never have to ride that income roller coaster.

Happy Hunting!


David Mandar


Utilizing over 20 years of experience within the Information Technology field, David has grown progressively through his career in Recruitment and Staffing. He is currently a Curta Coach, assisting fellow recruiters and agency owners, new to the industry and experienced, get off the recruiting hamster wheel and love their work by applying smart processes that raise the quality of hires and result in a greater business and personal brand.




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3 Ways To Sabotage Your Candidate’s Interview

by David Mandar

Help candidates interview

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Another stellar candidate rejected?

Wondering why your awesome candidate, the one you knew was the perfect fit, blew the interview? It’s pretty frustrating when you spend extra time and effort to find the right one only to have them rejected after thinking they were a sure hire.

If this happens to you, don’t be disheartened. As you know, there are many factors you cannot control in the hiring process. We’re dealing with different personalities including the Hiring Manager and the Candidate, and unpredictable scenarios like the interview.

But recruiting is more than just finding the right candidate, it’s making sure all of the key pieces are lined up and that the risks due to unpredictability are minimized.

So if your perfect candidate was rejected after an interview, as a recruiter you may be guilty of one or all of these 3 situations:

Poor Hiring Manager Relationship
It’s important to know and engage your Hiring Manager. You need to create trust so that you can have open conversations around positions being offered and what matters to the Hiring Manager. You have to dig and ask what are key skills and other work ethics important to them and crucial for the position. Gather these details and use them in the job description and candidate screening process, as well as when prepping your chosen one for an interview.

Poor Job Description
If you don’t talk to the Hiring Manager and qualify the hiring opportunity, you will probably present a poor job description. A poor job description will attract the wrong kind of candidates. It’s important you know exactly who you are looking for and that your job description calls to that exact person. Quite often, you’ll be given a previously used job posting. These are frequently outdated or were never a good match for the position in the first place. If you post using one of these, you are sabotaging your efforts in finding the right fit for the job. You’ll often find that after speaking with the Hiring Manager, some crucial criteria does not even appear on the job posting and at times actually contradicts some of the information. Make sure to include these key items in your posting!

Poor Interview Prep
Did you properly prepare the candidate for the interview? The only way you can answer this question is by knowing what your Hiring Manager wants and by knowing you have the best fitting job description. As you can see, you have to have a good Hiring Manager relationship and accurate job description to be able to prep the candidate properly. For example, did the Hiring Manager specify a preferred background or a key skill? Make sure you go over these with the candidate and that they enter the interview prepared with examples and details on these crucial aspects of the position being offered.

Of course you can’t control everything. There are times when life throws you a curve. Maybe your candidate is having an extremely bad day or the Hiring Manager was replaced with someone else with a whole new set of values and perceptions on what matters in a specific post. But if you cover these three steps properly, you will minimize the number of golden candidates who fail the interview and get more returns for your efforts.


David Mandar


Utilizing over 20 years of experience within the Information Technology field, David has grown progressively through his career in Recruitment and Staffing. He is currently a Curta Coach, assisting fellow recruiters and agency owners, new to the industry and experienced, get off the recruiting hamster wheel and love their work by applying smart processes that raise the quality of hires and result in a greater business and personal brand.



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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Interviewing, Uncategorized


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