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

February, 2009

A Flair for the Obvious

There's an old saying in sales: If your customers don't understand what you're selling, they probably won't buy it.

But wait. Didn't investors buy billions of dollars of financial products so complex that even Wall Street analysts couldn't understand them?

Yes, but the investors didn't buy the products; they bought the illusion that their money was well managed and free of risk. If the investors had known of the complexity, they may have thought twice before handing over their 401(k)s.

Shovel-Ready Recruiting
There's a lesson in this story for recruiters: The more complicated your strategy, the greater the tendency to dig yourself into a hole.

For example, I know a recruiter who's trying to fill a sales job that pays $100,000 a year. In the spirit of providing the best talent in the market, he convinced the company to interview a candidate who earns more than $200,000 a year.

What started out as a simple situation has now gotten complicated. To reconcile the difference in pay, the recruiter will need to twist some arms and try to balance the equation with commissions, stock options and other benefits.

I hope his deal goes through. If it doesn't, he may need to develop a flair for the obvious; that is, refer candidates who fit the company's salary profile.

Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar
And if it walks like a duck, it probably is. Here are some easy ways to keep things simple—and under control:

1. Listen carefully to your candidates and employers. Before you try to impose your will, see if you can understand their point of view. As in a marriage, it's sometimes better to be loved than to be right.
2. Choose your work carefully. Given the choice, I'd prefer to do a few things well than a lot of things poorly. And so would your clients and candidates.
3. Leverage your competitive advantage. If you're strong in a particular niche, stay focused on your specialty and sidestep activities that scatter your attention or expose your weaknesses.
4. Seek out the queen (or king) bee. If you're asked to interface with multiple decision makers, try to discover who's really in charge and make that person your primary point of contact. Serving too many masters can get you into situations that are confusing, unproductive and politically sensitive.

Above all, trust your gut. According to economist Malcolm Gladwell, human intuition has often proved more reliable than science in the pursuit of truth.


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