Ike Davis, 1st baseman for the NY Mets hit his 2nd home run this year, a 3 run homer against the Atlanta Braves last night, possibly reversing a “slow start” to his season in grand fashion.  To wit, Gary Cohen, one of my favorite sports announcers of all time commented (paraphrase here) “Ike handles both his successes and failures the same way, his demeanor does not change, he’s got the perfect personality for Major League Baseball”. 

He went on to say “After all, baseball is a game of failure!”

Shocked at the statement at first, I quickly recognized how true it is.  Get up to bat 3 – 4 times a game, swing the bat a minimum 12 but more often over 20 times a game, get 1 hit per game, and you are on a hitting streak to the joy of your team and fans alike.  1 Hit in 20+, IF you’re doing well! 

That’s a “hit” mind you, not a home run.

The parallels’ to recruiting are obvious.  Barbara Bruno (renowned recruiting trainer) uses a ratio of 20 conversations per day equals a productive day when starting out in recruiting.  That’s “conversations” not calls.  For 20 conversations, one could make 100+ dials in a day.

That’s “every day”.

Those outside recruiting, if they knew the “ratios” we live by would call us “crazy”, asking why would you do that… why (or how) could you stick with it, with a “failure” ratio like that?

At 4:30 AM this morning, while laying in bed awake pondering my children’s future, the bills I had to pay, the candidate I was interviewing at 8, the client meeting at 12, and whether I’d ever have enough money to retire some day, (I’m guessing I’m not alone in this ritual these days) that little voice in the back of my head reminded me, …with 1 swing of the bat today, you could change… “Everything!”

One good swing today could be the difference between a banner month, or a flop.  One good swing today, could be the difference between another Disney Vacation, or a weekend at the in-laws (how’s that for incentive).

One good swing today…

Of course, we take steps to mitigate the peaks and valleys, and it’ll take more than “1 good swing total”,  to close a deal, but truth is, few jobs I’ve had in my career (and I’ve had more than a few), offer the “subtle rush” locking in a solid appointment, or “adrenaline rush” closing a big deal brings. 

Few jobs anywhere, offer the employee the opportunity to change “everything”, on any given day. 

All you have to do, is bring with you the demeanor of a Major League Ball Player, recognizing, you’ll need to “swing, swing, swing” each and every day, knowing you will not get a hit with each up at bat, and knowing (viscerally) that that’s OK!

If you ask me, Recruiting is a game of failure, same as Major League Baseball. Like Major League Baseball, not many have the skill to survive the cut, with fewer the skills to play with the All Stars. Nor do most have the demeanor to “turn” a slow start to a season (or quarter) knowing, success can only be achieved, if you are willing and able to keep getting up to bat each and every day accepting the seemingly daunting ratio’s, and “swinging” through the blisters, and the years, till you get to the point where you really “know your pitch”.

For then and only then, will you be able to consistently “hit them out of the park”.

Views: 2638

Comment by bill josephson on April 18, 2012 at 7:39am

Nick, well attuned to the recruiting world piece.  I appreciate you're at recruiting for a serious family providing purpose as I am, not a recreational recruiter whose success is supplemental and isn't paramount to family survival.

 

As a 31 year Recruiting veteran, solely speaking for myself, I worry about the same issues you brought up and will say one thing about recruiting.  Once acquiring the basic skills (which we attempt to improve upon throughout our recruiting lives) understanding the rules and strategy of the placement/sale game it really comes down to one thing.  Frustration tolerance.  How much can you take?

 

You find out, in time, that all you control in this business is your own effort.  You're responsible to people, but not for them.  Tons of things happen outside your control with candidates and clients in, especially rough economic times as the uncovered opportunities happen fewer and farther between.  No matter what, you only control you and your response to all adversity. 

 

So how much pain can you take getting to the reward?  IMO, it's why 9 out of 10 new recruiters are out of the business within 6 months of starting.  Frustration tolerance isn't in our chemical make-up, we're more pleasure oriented.  So much of recruiting is making those phone calls every day no matter how you emotionally/physically feel.  Being pushed or falling down the stairs--getting back up climbing them again.

Not many are mentally equipped to handlle it.

Comment by Ken Forrester on April 18, 2012 at 7:40am

Nice analogy Nick-comparing recruiters to professional baseball players.  Never thought about failure as a good thing, but it's true.  Something else to think about: they pay baseball players big bucks to play a game, but why do they complain about placement fees paid to headhunters?

BTW- you may want to correct that typo in the first sentence-it takes away from a well written piece.  Good read.

Comment by Marley on April 18, 2012 at 9:47am

Good reminders, thank you.  I've been speaking with my team about this more and more lately.  Knowing the ratios, or redefining success, is essential to surviving in recruiting.  If we feel defeated every time we strike out, we won't even be able to finish out the game.

Comment by Mitch Sullivan on April 18, 2012 at 10:10am

If you are not being paid part of your fees upfront, you're not a headhunter.

If you are being paid part of your fees upfront, you won't have to endure the failure ratio of 1 in 4, which is what proportion of jobs received by a recruiter he/she actually fills.

Change the game.

Comment by bill josephson on April 18, 2012 at 10:19am

Mitch, great point. 

 

Companies I've spoken with balk at the up front money.  So either you take the deal or look to make other companies as clients.   Thusfar, necessity has determined I work with what I believe I can succeed with/fill instead of looking for new clients who either have no serious positions to fill, have a few they don't need recruiters for, have unfillable positions, or don't return phone calls/emails.

Your approach, when able to engage in it, is optimal.

Comment by Elise Reynolds on April 18, 2012 at 10:59am

Great analogy!  It is true most of what we do goes nowhere.

Comment by Vaughn Welches on April 18, 2012 at 11:02am

Well, Mitch, I think your definition of a headhunter is quite narrow.    My 20+ years of experience has all been on contingency fees and it is always very gratifying when a satisfied client calls you asking for your help with a difficult or urgent recruiting assignment.

I do understand the security of a retained search and would welcome that kind of contract any time.  And, getting back to Nick's excellent post, we all know that we are only as good as our next swing, oops, I mean our next call anyway.

Comment by Mitch Sullivan on April 18, 2012 at 11:11am

Hi Vaughn. 

I think the popular (and most enduring definition) of a headhunter has always been someone who identifies and sources all (or most) of the available candidate pool and then assess that candidate pool and presents the best of them to the client.  Given the work that entails, a retainer is an absolute must.

Most people who call themselves headhunters these days are little more than opportunists - or in other words, select one of two candidates from their own various niche networks.  Some source these people from databases.  And of course, why would they do a more thorough job if they have no guarantee of any payment?

Comment by Mitch Sullivan on April 18, 2012 at 11:13am

Thanks Bill.

Moving your client base to one that happily pays retainers does take time.  One client at a time in fact.  The advantages to the client are numerous.

Comment by David Wagner on April 18, 2012 at 11:16am

If you want to use baseball skills to relate to recruiting then you have consider that a good baseball player like a good recruiter has to layoff the bad pitches/not qualified candidate.  Not all pitches can you make good contact with and not all candidates are good matches.  Being able to layoff the not qualified candidates is really the trick.  After 25 years plus that is one of the most important skills.  "what is a 1st basement?  Still LOL."

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