Failure is Not an Option

Along with third party and corporate Recruiters, I also coach Independent Recruiters / Business Owners every day.  And every day, those Independent Recruiters / Business Owners amaze me.  I am amazed at their tenacity for being in business for fifteen years, in an industry that will just as well smack you as is to kiss you.  I am amazed that they are excited for any and all new training topics I develop.  I am amazed they are still generous to their clients, candidates and internal employees.  I could go on and on with how they amaze me, but what really fascinates me is, HOW do they keep going every day, day after day, week after week, and year after year?

Today at the end of a coaching call with an Independent Recruiter who has been running his own boutique agency for over 20 years, I took a few minutes to ask him, “How do you keep going? What makes you so thirsty for knowledge?”

His interesting ‘short answer’ to me was “Failure is not an option, along with one must be willing to do what it takes stay in business.  And all has to be well within ethical and legal limits of course. ” (I guess no Breaking Bad moments here?) “If you are driven by these two things, you will be always working on these five tasks to stay competitive.”

Here is the long answer. ..

Being any kind Recruiter is as labor intensive as a Gold Prospector panning for an ounce of gold from a ton of dirt. We spend our days sitting at our desks, staring at a computer monitors,  speaking to any number of people at any given time, all while we are thinking about how we are going to spend that next fee.  Whew! Thank God we have ADHD, or we would never survive the first year.  But, if you want to survive 20+ years, you also better be able and willing to work on these five tasks, over and over again:

1. Identifying Your Problems – We can all stand on the sidelines & point to everyone else’s problems.

That is easy! Here is where we separate the women from the girls and the men from the boys.  Take a long hard look in the mirror at yourself, make a list of what you need to fix, and then find someone to help you fix it.

2.     Take Responsibility and be Accountable – Now the works really starts. 

Taking responsibility for one’s success and failure is no light matter.  When we don’t have the warmth and comfort of an office, pay cheque and co-workers it gets really cold, really quick. There is no one to tell you what to do when you have screwed up, and no one to give you the slightest direction.  90% of Independent Recruiter / Businesses fail in the first year.  From what I hear from these fails, the lack of structure, steady income and overall support causes them to go find a job.  To succeed, you have to take control.  To have control, you have to take on responsibility.   Once you choose success, you will take the responsibility of providing your own structure with a daily, week, monthly, and yearly plan.  You take responsibility of providing a steady income by working a second job.  And you take responsibility for providing your own support, by standing on you own two feet.

When you choose success, make a list of things you are responsible for. Next to each item, write down how you are going to handle that responsibility.  When I started my business I was responsible for all the bills associated with owning three horses, but no way to pay those bills.  I didn’t want to sell the horses, so I leased them out for my first two years of business.  I didn’t like to do that, but today I still have my horses.

3.     Keep A Positive Attitude – Hopefully by now you have realized your attitude is your responsibility. 

As a Recruiter your attitude will dictate how everyone around you interacts with you.  Controlling your attitude (not being controlled by it) will give you the opportunity to turn on and off feelings that could be getting in the way.  Turning off the sadness we are feeling about losing that deal.  Turning on the excitement we are going to need to take on that new client.

A good way to change your attitude and get it under control is to write a “gratitude list” every day.  This will turn on the positive feelings, and teach you how to dial down the negative ones.  Or your can see The Independent-Recruiter’s Reality – he has advise too.

4.     Learn & Grow – If you are not learning, you are not growing.

Keeping yourself in a teachable mindset will gain you an edge on your fellow Recruiters.  Social media proves it.  Think about 10 years ago, when the first recruiters latched on to LinkedIn.  They were making placements, while other recruiters were telling them it was a useless ’fad’.  Today, you can’t be a Recruiter without using LinkedIn as a tool.

The Recruiters that have been in the business 20+ years work with coaches, going to trainings and keep up to date on the basics.  Yes, the basics!  I am actually teaching my Rookie Recruiting Class to more veteran Recruiters then I ever thought I would.  When I ask them “what are you doing?” they tell me the basic training gets them refocused again. Also, their being in with a class of new Recruiters creates a new level of excitement for the recruiting business, and a look at new ideas.

A small suggestion came in from another Seasoned Independent Recruiter.  He said,“We are not alone unless we choose to be. Having a coach and network of other independent recruiters allows us the wisdom & strength to overcome obstacles we face day to day. Come join our group discussions, and see for yourself how you can benefit from it!”

5.     Address Issues – but remained emotionally detached.

As Recruiters we are hard wired not to let people down and when issues arise we feel like we have let someone down.  Whether the issue is that the candidate didn’t get the job, or that a client fires a candidate the day before the guarantee ends.  We feel like we have let someone down in either of those situations because we are emotionally attached.  We teach Recruiters not to get emotionally invested with the candidate or the client but we are only human.  Emotions are going to happen.  Gaining a certain amount of emotional detachment will give you clarity to clearly focus on the issue. Once you have that clarity, the issue will be easier to resolve.

A good technique to deal to with major issues is to first take 24 hours before you “react.” If you can’t take 24 hours, you can at least sleep on it.  If you can’t sleep on it, call your coach or a trusted colleague for guidance. Remember, reacting is an uncontrolled response.  As a Recruiter you can’t afford an uncontrolled response. Once you have some perspective, verify your facts with all parties involved, then sit down and write down a plan of action.  Take a break, and then implement your plan of action.

Often, you will find the first 24 hours of any non-life threatening crisis is really drama in disguise. When you just let the dust settle, you’ll be amazed that there is really nothing further to be done.

As an independent Recruiter, Coach and Business owner I am coming up on my 5 year anniversary.  What I learned above today from my veteran Recruiter / Business owner are the same things that I aspire to do every day.

“Failure is Not an Option” for any of us!


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