How To Deal With Disappointments In The Recruiting Business

recruiting recruitment staffing Nov 15, 2022

One of the most challenging features of the recruiting industry is the constant ups and downs that occur. I believe that the "emotional roller coaster effect" is more prevalent in recruiting than in other industries for one reason: It's the only business where the "product" has feelings and opinions and can make choices. It can even do the unthinkable…reject the customer! Can you imagine going into a car dealership, finding the exact car you want, and then learning that the car told the salesperson it doesn't want to be driven by you? 

As if the above weren't hard enough, you cannot engineer and manufacture your product to fit customer specifications, nor can you increase the supply to meet shortages. Your product also doesn't sit patiently in inventory while your customer delays purchase. And despite your best attempts, the output of your work can choose to say and do anything it wants, which impacts your customer approval rating. 

Despite my above tirade, the recruiting industry is excellent if you develop the appropriate mindsets and skills to meet the above challenges. If you learn and adopt the below mindsets and skills and teach them to your people, you'll set yourself up for greater success, job satisfaction, and staff retention with far less stress. Are you ready?

  1. Focus on the things you can control. One of the most challenging practices in business and life is to be clear about which things you control and which you don't. Simply put, you have agency over your choices and actions. Everything else falls outside of your control. Failure to make this distinction is the cause of much excess suffering. Learning to increase your effort on the controllable and letting go of the uncontrollable is a skill that takes practice and time.
  2. Keep the faith that time is on your side. You will accumulate more relationships, credibility, and skills as you become more established in the recruiting industry. All of these assets increase your ability to produce your desired results. Remembering this fact when things don't go your way can make coping with the inevitable losses easier.
  3. Accept your feelings of disappointment. The reality is that a substantial percentage of people will not comply with your preferences. When this occurs, it's best to:

- Remind yourself that the behavior of others is outside of your control. 

- Acknowledge and accept whatever you're feeling about the situation. It's common for people to feel bad about themselves for feeling angry, sad, or depressed when things don't go their way. In truth, these are normal human responses to things we don't like, not indictments of your character. Research has demonstrated that if you try to deny or resist your unwanted thoughts and feelings, it will be harder to move past them. The expression "whatever you resist persists"  is true! It's best to acknowledge your feelings, knowing that they'll naturally pass if you don't resist or hold on to them.

  1. Reframe disappointments as growth fuel. The good news is that you can reframe any situation into an interpretation that inspires you to improve. For example, when a prospect declines your attempt to work with them, you can reframe the setback as an opportunity to enhance your sales & marketing approach so that a higher percentage of prospects want to work with you
  2. Learn to think in "realistic probabilities." It's natural for our minds to hope that any deal that's looking good will probably go our way. This can cause you to significantly overrate the likelihood that your client will hire a given candidate. The greatest cause of disappointment in life is unrealistic expectations. When you think in "realistic probabilities," you recognize that there's a laundry list of things (many unexpected) that can kill a deal. 

For example, you have a candidate who has had multiple "great interviewers'' with your client and has one last "rubber stamp" interview to get client approval. In your mind, there is a 90% chance of making the placement. In reality, it's probably more like 50% since there are many hidden landmines you haven't considered. How many times have you been burned when you thought you had a "sure thing?"

Why is this important? Because realistic probabilities thinkers say to themselves, "I'm not giving this more than a 50% chance of closing; I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that we have at least two more quality submittals as backups. If you have three quality candidates interviewing with a quality client and you're the only recruiting firm on the search, your odds of filling the job are more in the 80+% range. Over time, increasing your odds from 50% to 80% will have an enormously positive impact on your business.

When you adopt a realistic probabilities approach in the recruiting business, you learn to invest your time, money, and resources in higher probability events (quality submittals on the most fillable jobs with the best clients). This approach sets you up for recruiting industry success and minimizes the odds of failure. When you hit periods where everything you touch seems to fall apart, you can draw on your understanding of probabilities for reassurance that if you continue to focus on quality activity, the numbers will work out in your favor. 

In summary, if you continue to practice this way of viewing the recruiting business, you learn to detach yourself emotionally from individual outcomes. You'll see undesired events as part of the natural distribution of probabilities. If you're playing a game of probabilities, the smart move is to invest your time, money, and resources where you have the highest chance of success rather than using a different approach to allocating them.

I'd love to hear about any additional tactics you use to help you deal with recruiting industry disappointments. Also, many recruiting firm owners and leaders find it helpful to engage a qualified recruiting coach to help them better deal with the ups and downs of the recruiting business. 

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