Every week I get a request from a newbie to the recruitment industry asking for guidance on how to succeed. It’s a tricky one because it’s a bit like asking the meaning of life, or the secret to being a brilliant parent. There is no easy, short, answer.
However, here is my best road-map for somebody starting out in their career for the first time. It’s not a guaranteed formula for success, but follow these guidelines and you'll be well on the road to success.
- First and foremost, do the small things well. For example, turn up to work on time. (Trust me, I see brand-new hires strolling in late all the time!). Actually, turn up early every day for the first month. Wear the appropriate clothes for the environment you are joining. Take short lunch breaks. Get to every meeting on time.
- Critically, be a willing learner. ‘Coachability’ is a key requirement in my opinion. Poor listeners, know-it-alls, and those who just can’t focus on learning different ways in their new environment, are likely to fail long-term.
- Keep your head down. I don’t mean be a shrinking violet. But don’t be too cocky too early. Resist the temptation, on day three, to tell a really funny story about your holiday in Bali, and how drunk you all got. Listen far more than you talk. Of course, engage and be responsive, but know your place… until you know your place.
- Don’t join a tribe. Every office has them. Alliances, cliques and factions. It’s tempting to ‘join’ one, as when you are new, you feel alone. But don’t. Treat everyone with respect and be open to help and guidance from everywhere.
- Be brave. Sounds strange talking about courage in a desk job. But, in fact, you do need to be brave in recruitment. Make that cold call when it’s time to do so. Interview that candidate for the first time. Negotiate a fee if you have to. I have noticed that new recruiters show their “courage colours” early. A good employer will not throw you in the deep-end too early, but they will be delighted to see your willingness to tackle the task head-on.
- Treat candidates like gold. Actually, no, treat them like human beings with feelings. Develop your own ‘candidate response charter’. Oh look, I did it for you
- Compete with yourself. Don’t get caught up in office ego fights. Your biggest competition is not your ‘competitor’, your clients, technology, the recruiter sitting next to you, or anything else. Your competition is you. You have to better than you were yesterday. Make that your daily goal.
- Never stop learning. You are never ‘done’ as a recruiter. Read articles and blogs (this one, every day, for a start). Attend seminars. Learn from others. Add new skills, always.
- Look for mentors. Your company will have some great operators, hopefully. Some will be more helpful than others, but all will enjoy an ego stroke when you ask, “Can I learn from you please?”
- Ask. Listen, learn, and try new things. But don’t suffer in silence. If you don’t understand, ask. Be polite; make sure the person you are asking is not in the middle of a critical call. Ask if they have time. But ask your question. The answer will be in the room.
- Take notes. You are not that smart to remember it all. In training, when being coached, when your mentor gives a tip. Write it down. Review later. And implement.
- No matter what others do in the office, your mantra will be ‘get on the phone’. Think about the outcome you want. Is it better achieved via an email, or on the phone? Usually it’s the latter. Pick. It. Up.
- Don’t take it personally. Here is the news. People are going to let you down. Things will go wrong. Clients and candidates will be rude and ungrateful. Toughen the f*** up!
- Don’t get pissed at your first work function. Or your second. Or your third. In fact never get pissed at a work function. I have never seen anyone enhance their career, reputation or credibility by drinking too much at a work do. And I have been to infinitely more of those than you have.
- Develop an ethos of networking from day one. Your first candidate interview? It goes well? Ask the candidate who else they know he may be looking to move. Always be ferreting out new contacts and expanding your Rolodex of contacts
- From the beginning follow the golden secret that even experienced recruiters don’t know, and I’m telling you for nothing! Quality. Activity. And doing it with the right people.
- Don’t mess with your reputation. It’s the only thing you will take with you when you leave. Every contact with candidate, clients or colleague is a ‘moment of truth’. Ask yourself after every interaction. ‘Did what I just did or said, enhance or damage my reputation’. Remember it’s not only the candidates you help — it’s the ones you don’t help. Treat people with respect, do what you say you’re going to do, never screw anyone over, and in the long-run your reputation will get you there. Your reputation is your elixir of eternal recruitment career life. Protect it and burnish it. Through your actions.
3D illustration by Quince Media https://quincemedia.com