Friday, January 30, 2009

Lessons from the Recruiting Archives - Part One

I've been having great fun over the last couple years following the hottest recruiting oriented blogs and more recently connecting with recruiters in the Twitterverse. (You can follow me on Twitter: here.) It's been excited watching all the changes in methodologies since my recruiting days back in the 80s and 90s.

To payback the young superstars for allowing me to live vicariously through them (as recruiting will always be my first love), I thought I'd make a few notes on some of things that worked for us back in the (g)olden days.

First a little background. The company that I worked for was a Boston based firm called Search, Inc. It was started by Paul George, an incredible recruiter, salesperson, manager, trainer and motivator. Paul's background was in recruiting IBM 36 programmers. He used to tell us that he knew every IBM 36 programmer in the Boston area. So much so that if a prospective client said they had already selected someone for a position, Paul would ask who they were hiring and then proceed to tell them the pros and cons about that person. (That was under the lesson -- find a niche.)

Search, Inc. had some terrific processes in place and I had an amazing manager in Doris Greenberg, a veritable whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm.

Here are five things that made the recruiters at Search so so successful.

1) Daily Schedule. Because it's so easy to get distracted or spend time on non-productive work, we had a very strict schedule. It went like this:

8:30am - 9:30am Morning Meeting (more on this later)
9:30am - 11:00am Drilling. Drilling was the name for calling companies and trying to get Job Orders
11:00 - 12:00 Miscellaneous Interviewing/Matching/Presentations for Send-Outs/Follow-Ups
12:00 - 1:00 Lunch
1:00 - 2:00 Sourcing
2:00 - 4:00 Recruiting Calls - Cold calls to potential applicants to get in-person interviews
4:00 - 5:00 Miscellaneous Interviewing/Matching/Presentations for Send-Outs/Follow-Ups
5:00 - 5:30 Create Daily Plan for the next day
5:30 Go home or more likely conduct late interviews with applicants

That is what we did. Every day Monday - Friday. It was a good system and it created a huge amount of productivity. Did we goof off? Sure, that 11:00 - 2:00 period was filled with a lot of chit-chat. But we knew what we should be doing at any time of the day and that kept us focused and productive.

2) The Chip Board. The chip board was a big key to motivational success in our office. It was a magnetic white board with rectangle colored magnets located in a prominent location in the office. Each colored magnet represented a desired result.
Light Blue: Job Order
Yellow: An Interview with an Applicant
Orange: A Send-Out
Search Logo: PLACEMENT

The recruiters' names were written at the top of the board. Whenever a recruiter got a job order, conducted an interview, made a send-out or got a placement, they placed the appropriate magnet under their name. On good days, a good recruiter would have a long column of magnets under their name. On bad days just one or two. If you had no chips for too many days you weren't going to make it in the business.

There was no resting on your laurels with the chip board; the chips were removed each day after the morning meeting and you had to do it all over again.

3) Morning Meetings. Morning Meetings were also critical to our success. Every morning we got together and reviewed the chip board from the previous day. Placements were congratulated and any recruiter who made a placement shared how it all came together from the job order to the acceptance of the offer. The rest of the meeting was devoted to a particular topic either sales training, recruiter training or motivational training. By the end of the meeting, we were pumped up and ready to jump on the phone and work our daily planner.

4) Everyone Sits Together. All the recruiters sat together one desk behind another. Although we lacked privacy, we gained in being able to hear what was going on with our colleagues. Did the person in front of you just get the perfect job order for an applicant you interviewed last night? It was also great for ongoing training.You were constantly hearing the sales presentations of those around you.

5) Ask for the Offer. I'll never forget hearing the phone conversation from my colleague Carol. It went something like this:

Carol: Hi ____, How did the interview go?
Client: It went OK. I think she could do the job. I should probably interview other people. I'm not sure what I want to do. I did like her. Maybe you could send over other people? I'm not sure what to do.
Carol: (ignoring the wishy washy feedback and putting on her best enthusiastic voice) Would you like to go ahead and make ___ an offer?
Client: Ok.

We were all astonished. But we always asked for the offer after that. As the old sales books used to say, "close early and often."

I'll also add one bonus item to this list that REALLY worked to motivate us:

6) Contests That Everyone Can Win. We had the best contests at Search, Inc.. Every recruiter that reached a certain billing goal over a two month period won. All the winners went together along with their spouse/guest for a 4 day all expense paid trip. We went to Aruba, Bermuda, St. Maarten, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe. Since we all wanted all our friends to join us on the trip, we worked extra hard as a team to make sure that everyone in our office reached the billing goal. They were the most team oriented contests I've ever seen.

In future Lessons from the Recruiting Archives I'll provide some specifics in terms of sales presentations for job orders, presenting candidates, sourcing and closing offers.

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