Do you even know what burnout looks like?


There are 8,766 hours in a year, and out of those hours the average Recruiting Professional spends about 520 hours commuting, 3,120 working a desk, and, if they are lucky, 2,190 hours sleeping.  Add all of these hours up and you have 2,936 to take care of your family, friends and yourself.  Is this unusual? No. What is unusual are the stress levels Recruiters are under everyday.  The stress Recruiters face when closing a deal is probably equivalent to some doctors (But, unlike doctors we can’t sedate either our clients or candidates until the deal is done).

Stress over time is the leading causes of “Burnout.” Burnout is defined as physical or emotional exhaustion, especially as a result of long-term stress or dissipation.  Recruiters are not immune to Burnout.

Coaching Recruiters to create a environment that turns stress from something that drives you to something that fuels you.  Here are five ways you can do this for yourself:

  1. STOP DIGGING ~ If you have been working an order for an excessive amount of time and you are beyond frustrated, STOP DIGGING! It’s time to step back and look at the whole picture.  Often we get fixated on a mistake and then we are lost.  By stepping back and making a minor correction you are off and running again in the right direction.
  2. TAKE CONTROL BACK ~ Drowning in the feeling of being pushed and pulled by everyone else?  Stop thrashing about and start treading water by turning to your calendar.  Start by blocking out time that work for you.  If you like to source between 11am to 1pm then book it!  If some calls to speak with you, book them a time.  This simple change will let people know you are a valuable resource and that your time is worth money.
  3. GET A LIFE ~ In nursing homes three hours in a chair is considered torture, so why are you sitting at your desk for well over ten hours some days?  Exercise is an essential ingredient to your performance.  A study released last week reports that exercise enables the brain to regenerate lost brain cells.  If nothing else, the ability to recover from your twenties is worth a couple of walks around the block, don’t you think?
  4. GET BACK TO BASICS ~ The harsh reality is Recruiting is a simple equation. Whether you admit it or not, to entertain ourselves we make the hiring process complicated and convoluted.  Distill out the noise, know your process and get the job done. Everything else is stress.
  5. SAY “NO” ~ Feel like you are drowning? You are!  And every time you say “sure, I can do that” or “I have that covered” the more water you are attempting to swallow.  The word “No” is the hardest word in the English language.  If you can’t say NO then simply shut your mouth!  If nothing else by shutting your month the water can’t get in.

Recruiting professionals thrive in high stress situations.  The key to keeping productivity high and avoiding burnout is learning the how to create the right environment.  

For further information about a Recruiter’s work week including average hours worked, the most productive days and the least favorite day follow the links below to the live discussions.

Have a productive week!!!

Rebecca B. Sargeant

Recruiter’s Coach


2 responses to “Do you even know what burnout looks like?

  1. While I agree that recruiting is a high demand, high stress, high burnout career I come from the old school. I make myself available when my clients and candidates need me if that means 6:00 in the morning, 10:00 at night, or on a weekend. I’ve been known to make job offers to candidates in the middle of the day on a Saturday while out on my boat (something my boating friends find amazing – did Mike just earn a fee while out on his boat!??!).

    You mentioned Doctors in your post. I’ve always felt that our chosen career is similar – especially in the first 5 to 10 years while you are building a desk. If a doctor has an emergency in the middle of the night he needs to respond. If we have a client or candidate that is only available to talk to us outside of business hours we need to respond.

    At the same time we need an outlet for our excess energy and some down time. Sitting at a desk all day drinking coffee and eating bad food does not make for a healthy life. There was a time when I put in an average 12 to 14 hour day Mon to Fri and a 6-ish hour day every Saturday. My overwhelming motivation is the fact that I am the Founder of Human Capital Consultants and as an owner I obviously have a vested interest in the success of the company. Still though I had ballooned to 330 pounds, was extremely unhealthy, and short tempered with the people in my personal life.

    I’ve since made positive changes in my life. I still work an average of 13 or 14 hours per day and I still work Saturdays (and sometimes Sunday) but I’ve found an outlet and a vehicle for downtime. I go to the gym 6 mornings per week. Three of those days I work out with a trainer and 3 I work out on my own. I am also about to join a boxing gym and go hit the heavy bag a few evenings per week. In addition I dove deeply back into boating. My father had a boat when I was growing up, I myself had a boat on Lake Mead, Nevada in the late 90’s / early 2000’s. In 2007 I was to the point of mental breakdown and needed someplace to go and something to do that was total joy and relaxation. I bought a cabin boat that I spend weekends on April through October, evenings after work once in awhile, and even work from the boat a couple of days per week. Initially I thought mixing my down time with my business might defeat the purpose but I found that the days I work from the boat I have a much more enjoyable and relaxing work day.

    Typically my day looks as follows:

    5:00 AM: Get to the office, check and respond to e-mail, review resumes, etc.

    6:00 AM: Go to the gym. Tue, Wed, Thu work out with the trainer. Mon, Fri, Sat work out on my own.

    7:10 AM: Back to the office, continue responding to e-mail, source candidates, review resumes, etc.

    8:00 AM: Daily one on ones with my team.

    9:00 AM: Begin candidate calls (I submit candidates and update our ATS between calls. That is too time consuming to get done at the end of the day).

    11:30: Check voice mail, return calls, eat lunch, etc.

    1:00: Back to the phones.

    4:30: Daily update with one of my sales people.

    5:00: Speak to candidates who can only speak after hours, return e-mails, review resumes, source candidates, etc.

    6:30 / 7:00: Leave the office.

    I am in bed by 9:00 every night so I get a full night’s sleep and recharge my batteries before starting my day.

    On Saturday I typically get into the office by 5:00, spend the same hour in the gym, then work until around Noon or so.

    While burnout is prevalent in our business I don’t think the answer is working less hours. I think the answer is to continue your commitment to your desk and find other outlets for your energies and an outlet for some down time. For me that is the gym and boating.

  2. Great post Rebecca – and fair enough response Mike.

    I suggest the key is finding the right balance for each individual. Why? Because different people will have different threshold-levels before they burnout. It also sounds like Mike does incorporate a number of Rebecca’s suggestions already – everyday there is allotted time to workout (a self focused activity many find re-energizing), as well as earning a fee while on your boat is a much different environment than being locked behind a desk to earn a fee. What I see is how Mike has found his balance that enables him to manage not burning out.

    What I hear from Rebecca’s post is the challenge for all other recruiters to do the same.

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