Million Dollar Desk? Bring It On!

A while ago, I was retained as a Consultant/Mentor to a team of 35 IT Recruiters and I’ve been trying to figure out the activities that separate the top performers from their less successful colleagues.

And I think I’ve cracked it.

Funnily enough, it came to me in a Spinning Class (Indoor cycling). I am a Spinning Instructor in my spare time and teach three classes a week at Almaden Valley Athletic Club in San Jose.

Now, anyone can sit on a Spin bike (or at a desk) and look like they are working hard…

But to truly experience the magical powers of indoor cycling – you need to get outside of your comfort zone and really pick up the pace.

The payoff is huge: lower blood pressure, cardiovascular supremacy, rapid weight loss, improved strength and endurance, high self esteem, improved appearance to name a few.

And you learn to love it because you love the results.

But what could this possibly have to do with recruiting?

Everything. Because “Uncomfortable is where the rewards are”.

Because all of the Big Billers ($500k billings per yr minimum) that I know are highly proactive and I am sure they spend a good portion of the time working “outside of their comfort zone.”

Sounds a bit esoteric – right? So let’s define the term “outside your comfort zone”,

“Activities that stretch your communication and networking skills PLUS your powers of persuasion to their absolute limit. These are the activities that can potentially result in multiple rejections (which is, consciously or subconsciously, what most recruiters are trying to avoid) and that spur you on until you achieve the results you were aiming for”.

You see, the nectar of our profession, the truly worthwhile Clients and Candidates, can only really be accessed when we go outside of our comfort zone.

You’ve got to Run The Gauntlet with every Recruiter/Salesperson’s nemesis – Potential Rejection. Engage fully – and do it every day!

Here are some ideas to help you dust away the cobwebs and increase traction with your intended audience:-

– Get Busy. Don’t let the day run you – in fact do the opposite. Plan and execute your day to hit your targets. (Important vs Urgent –you must read David Allen’s GTD ) Spend a few minutes every morning creating a game plan for your day – customized to your current workload. Write it down. Stick to it and set some tough activity and production goals for yourself. Show it your boss if you have one.

– Get Organized. How about scheduling fifty outbound client/candidate calls over two 90 minute Call Blocks – every day!  You’ll need to source a strong list of 25 names and numbers prior to each block and make sure those Call Blocks are set for optimum results (between 8-10, 11-1 and/or 5.30-7.30) Call Blocks are incredibly powerful and can literally double your “connects” and halve the time you actually spend calling.

– Get Uncomfortable. Instead of just sitting back and counting the (diminishing) responses from your most recent Linkedin In-Mail blast – pick up the phone and introduce yourself to the potential clients/candidates who didn’t respond. Don’t expect an instant result – but tell them that you are an SME recruiter in their space and that you’d love to pick their brains sometime. Tell them you’ll be sending over a Linked In invitation and follow up a week later for a chat. It works with Clients and Candidates.

– Engage with passive candidates and try my patented “I’m not headhunting you” technique. Identify a candidate (or group of candidates) that fit your spec. Call them at work and try this: “Hi John, It’s Mike from TopTal, I am so glad I caught you (never ask “is this a good time?”) I’m not actually headhunting you as I can see you’ve been at Research in Motion for 5 years and I am sure you are incredibly happy. But, I do happen to recruit in your space a lot, and thought it would be great connect for the future. I could be a very useful ally for you. How’s life over at RIM – what are you working on?”.  Move the conversation towards his/her career goals – and what the next career move would look like…!

– Are you attending regular Networking events in your chosen niche and looking for ways that you can contribute rather than sell? Introduce yourself to ten people and ask them “what can I do to help you?” (Instead of trying to recruit them). This way you will build your referral network by investing in your potential candidate community rather than just coming off as another money-hungry recruiter.

– How about scheduling activities that do not have a direct or immediate payoff – like regularly keeping in touch with candidates you recently submitted (or placed) or checking in with consultants that you placed in the last year. The more love you give your referral network – the more referrals you will receive.

– What about Social Media? Sharing some useful information on your Linked In news feed to remind your network of your position and value. Contributing to discussions in your Linked In Groups or starting your own thread is another way to raise your profile. Other sites like Stack Overflow and Github are a goldmine of candidates, if you engage in a non-transactional fashion. The biggest sin that Recruiters make on Social Media is putting their own goals ahead of the goals of their potential candidates.

These are a few ideas that might take you outside your comfort zone and pay off in a big way when you stay consistent and committed.

Remember – “Uncomfortable is where the rewards are!”

Oh, and get yourself down to a Spinning Class.

Image courtesy of photostock at



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