Staying Motivated In a Down Market

recruiting recruitment staffing Oct 25, 2023

If your recruiting firm is experiencing a downturn, sustaining motivation can be extremely difficult for everyone. And, if you’re a leader, your people will follow your lead.

It’s vitally important to execute the business development activities that allow you to adapt and set yourself up in the future. Here is a practical no-nonsense article on the secrets to recruiting firm business development.

You experience more silence and rejection from your prospects and clients. It's a bummer when you're good clients tell you they can't use you right now. It can feel like the world suddenly turned against you. Can you relate? How do you remain motivated and hopeful when facing these conditions?

The emotional impact on recruiters

When prospects and clients are desperate for your help, you feel valued and needed. And placing people makes you feel like your work had a positive impact on people's lives. We all like to win and don't like (or hate) to lose.  The fact that you also earn more money when you place more people is "icing on the cake!" 

The shift from an up to a down market can seem sudden.  The abruptness of this change can catch you off guard. This can leave you searching for answers and questioning your effectiveness. It can be like a "one-two punch" emotionally that can cause anyone to avoid making a consistent effort. Having feelings of hopelessness and depression are common under these circumstances.

How to stay motivated in tough times

I don't know any quick-fix hacks that are proven to keep you motivated. After all, true motivation is not an "out there" in the environment issue. It's an "in here" between the ears issue that comes down to the choices you make. These choices aren't easy. But they become easier as you practice them repetitively.

Below are practical actions to help you stay motivated in a down market. If you are a leader, you can role model and teach these steps to your people.

  • Acceptance of the current environment: Recognizing and accepting that the landscape has changed is the first step towards adapting. Much of the negativity we experience with downturns occurs because we focus on how things were and how we think they should be. Unfortunately, wishing for things to be different than they are just causes suffering.
  • Seek Support: In trying times, it's crucial to connect with other people who are dealing with similar challenges. It can help you to realize that you're not alone. It can also offer fresh perspectives and a sounding board for new strategies.
  • Adopt a long-term perspective: Psychologically, we tend to overreact to short-term events and underact to the long-term implications. Economic cycles have occurred throughout history. And growth cycles have been far longer than downturn cycles. It helps to remind yourself that better times will return.
  • Focus on the activities you can control: You can't directly control outcomes (e.g., placements and revenue). However, you can control the activities that produce these outcomes (e.g., consistent client and prospect outreach with relevant content). Successful business development for recruiting firms is simple: quality content that's distributed to your target audience consistently.
    Set and track clear, measurable activity goals and focus on what you will do this week and today. Your motivation will increase as you follow through and achieve small successes.  This provides you with a sense of accomplishment and confidence. Sustainable success comes from small steps over time!
  • Redefine what motivation means: What most people typically think of as motivation is actually mood-vation (feeling in the mood). Since moods can shift like the wind based on external events, mood-ivation is out of your control. True motivation comes from commitment to your goals and the person you want to be. You can control these factors.
  • Upgrade your skills and knowledge: When your volume of jobs diminishes, you have more space to invest in getting better at your craft. What are the areas where upgrading your skills and knowledge would have the most significant ROI? This is when the use of coaches/trainers/advisors can pay off the most.
  • Focus on building relationships: When you take a sincere interest in addressing the challenges that your prospects and clients face, you build trust and credibility with them. Downtimes are wonderful opportunities to produce content that helps your audience solve real problems they deal with. You may find that more of these people ask you to assist in their job search. When they do, roll out the red carpet to help, even if there are low odds of placing them. Adopting this approach greatly enhances the odds that they will call you when they are hiring again.


Every industry has its peaks and valleys. For recruiting industry professionals, any significant slowdown makes your work more difficult and less enjoyable. It's much harder to stay motivated when this is the case. However, if you apply the advice in this article, you can increase and sustain your motivation despite the conditions. The tide will turn, and when it does, those who've persevered will ride the wave to even greater heights.

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