The old saying goes: “The only thing certain in life is death and taxes”. It’s time we add a third option to that list: failure. Failure in life is as inevitable as the sun coming up tomorrow. Look back at your life and I can assure you there has been a time where you have failed at something. In no career is that as true as it is in recruiting. For sake of argument let us just agree that recruiting is essentially sales. You have found a product (candidate) that you are trying to get accepted by an end user (hiring manager). In recruiting the product is the most unreliable out there. Our product thinks, acts and makes decisions for itself. So regardless of how great your sell is to the end user, the product is the one who really is making the decision.
I bring this up, because this unreliability increases the odds of failure. For example, if you are selling widgets, there only has to be two parties who ultimately are involved in the decision making process (salesperson and client). When your product thinks for itself there now are three parties involved(salesperson, client, and product) and the odds of a sale falling through increase.
I recently started reading a book by John Maxwell titled“The Winning Attitude”. In this book he focuses on how failure in life is inevitable. One of the lines he uses about failure is “To accept failure as final is to be finally a failure”. Meaning if youultimately give up and accept failure, then yes you indeed have failed. But if you do not accept that failure and continue to move on, then you will succeed. That is important in recruiting because failure can happen at any time and often. If you learn from those mistakes and move on, you are that much better off.
Early on in my career I was given this piece of advice: “Control what you can control”. It is such a simple sentence but it can hold so much weight. In recruiting things are going to be out of your control. Candidates will accept counter offers even when they said they wouldn’t, hiring managers will change their mind at a moment’s notice without any real reason and funding for that position will just go away. Worrying over those things does not do you much good. However the things you can control will help determine your success. Below I highlight a few of those things.
Things we can control:
- Work Ethic
- Our recruiting process- how thorough you are
- Managing expectations with candidates and hiring managers- do not sugar coat anything
- Aligning candidates with the right career opportunities, and not just getting a warm body
- Constant closing- making sure during every step of the process that it is an ideal match for both the hiring manager and the candidate. Things can change at a moment’s notice and we need to be prepared.
Things we cannot control:
- How a candidate will act on an interview
- A candidates decision making process
- A client changing requirements of a job throughout the interview process
- Candidate control- This term is popular in the field, and it truly does not exist. It should be renamed “Candidate Influence”
If you do your due diligence from the beginning and throughout the hiring process your odds at failure will decrease. Notice how I said decrease, not go away completely. No matter how well you handle the process, ultimately you will still fail. And that is OK, failure in anything is normal. Your job as a recruiter is to try and decrease the odds of failure.
So how can we decrease those odds?
- Work Hard. Just like training for a marathon doesn’t happen in a day, neither does succeeding in this industry. You must hone your craft and put in the work mandatory for success.
- Be honest to all parties. If a hiring manager has told you that X, Y and Z skill sets are mandatory for that role, do not try and put in a candidate with only X. If a candidate refuses an important part of the jobs responsibilities, do not try and convince them otherwise. (Unless of course there are other outside factors that significantly make up for that).
- Be ethical. Yes there are some shady people out there who can succeed. But it will catch up to them eventually. I have seen it countless times, and the unethical will always get caught.
Remember, “to accept failure as final is to be finally a failure”. Just because you have failed in your recruiting career, does not mean that is how it should end. If you are having any doubts about yourself in this industry go reach out to the first recruiter you see, and you can each talk about your failures all day long. Failure happens, congratulations.