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The Recruiter's Digest
 Recruiting News, Training & Commentary by Bill Radin

September, 2005

Are You Spread Too Thin?

Recruiters often complain of sensory overload, and for good reason. Not only are we bombarded with a thousand bits of information and a dizzying array of decisions to deal with on a daily basis, we're also expected to make our fair share of recruiting calls, marketing calls, interview prep calls, follow-up calls -- and, if all goes according to plan -- a healthy number of reference checks and closing calls.

So how do we juggle all these chainsaws and still maintain a high level of performance? Here are some ideas to preserve your physical -- and mental -- health:

1. Organize. While no two recruiters have the exact same system for processing data, the characteristic shared by all peak performers is their ability to quickly sort and store information. Look for ways to streamline your data flow and then file away or delete non-essential resumes, job orders and e-mails.

2. Automate. There are dozens of ways you can systematically stay in touch, keep informed and spot opportunities. For example, you can set up a quarterly e-mail blast to your candidates and hiring managers, either in the form of a talent sheet, a job alert, a newsletter or a request for updated contact information. Or, you can create follow-up or "tickle" files as a reminder to call key contacts on a regular basis; or set up search agents to scour job boards and search engines to keep you apprised of fresh candidates or red-hot jobs.

3. Prioritize. The 80/20 rule (also known as the the law of inequality) states that most of whatever is thrown at you is a waste of your time. Therefore, you should sidestep low-value tasks or information and prioritize those with a higher payoff potential. For example, it makes little sense to spend the same amount of time recruiting on a low-probability job order as it does on a truly urgent assignment; or for you to put off closing a deal in order to slog through a pre-set quota of outbound marketing calls.

4. Delegate. I've found that if you can find someone or something that can do a task better, faster, more economically or more enjoyably than you can, then delegate it. For example, if a candidate's resume needs work, you can direct the person to your Web site's resume-template page, rather than spending your time fixing the resume or giving a remedial writing lesson. Or, if an employer has trouble describing the exact nature of a job he's trying to fill, have him fill out a questionnaire, rather than trying to pull the information out of him, one word at a time.

A common trap to avoid: We sometime fall prey to "dumping," which is passed off as delegation. For example, if an employer is unwilling or unable to give you a complete, accurate job description and instead refers you to the company's job posting, it puts you in an untenable position in which you can't describe the job any better, faster or more economically than the job posting can. So nothing has actually been delegated, and you can add no value to the equation.

Delegation: A Matter of Judgment
As a recruiter, you must constantly decide which situations demand your personal involvement and which can be delegated. For example, in most cases, it would be unthinkable not to extend a job offer or close a candidate personally in real time yourself. But I've also found that in certain situations in which a candidate is experiencing "recruiter fatigue," it's more effective to delegate the job of closing to the hiring manager. That's assuming, of course, that the manager is competent to close the deal.

In my opinion, the use and misuse of delegation has become the single most important issue facing the recruiting industry. Remember that a recruiter's role is to add value, either in the form of experience, insight, judgment, rapport or courage.

Too often, we delegate the job of finding candidates to job boards, resume services or databases when we should be doing the heavy lifting ourselves, either by cold calling, networking or good old-fashioned detective work. If you find that a database or job board can do a better, faster or more economical job of locating qualified (and placeable) candidates, fine. If not, it's the your responsibility to serve the client's hiring needs by getting on the phone -- or shifting your priorities to other, more fillable assignments.



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