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Nick Boulton: How to get out of a recruitment rut

Posted on 11/10/2019
by Nick Boulton

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Getting yourself out of a rut can be hard, really hard.

Every profession deals with some kind of “writers block” and you need to develop strategies to overcome it.

Sportsmen and women call it a “lack of form”, actors say it’s a “lack of inspiration”. Other professionals know it as “lack of creativity” or “being in a funk”.

Whatever your profession, you will encounter something where you must refocus, re-motivate and re-engage to become successful again.

Sales environments can be very hard. The vast majority of people enter sales to make money. Sometimes, this alone won’t be enough to motivate you to start again, especially when it seems everything and everyone is against you.

This is where I think recruitment - tech recruitment, specifically - has an edge.

We are not selling a product. We are in the business of changing people’s lives. We mould careers, giving them the edge to gain promotion, earn a pay rise, or move jobs. Plus, we work with some of the most interesting companies in the world, building world-class engineering teams.

Helping people and building tech teams have always been that extra ‘crutch’ I’ve needed to motivate myself when I’m in a slump.

The key to overcoming a slump is to identify when you are in it and why you are there. Usually it follows a week, month or quarter of tough sales, followed by the inevitable, “I’m so unlucky, I’ve tried everything” phase.

If you look closely, it’s usually a time when you have thought “I’m bored” or “I’m not motivated” or “My manager doesn’t understand me” or “Should I be looking for another job?”

Sure, you might be in the wrong company, but I think the first place you need to look is the mirror.

I can honestly say when I have been in this situation and have taken a moment to reflect on my performance, the problem has been me.

It might not be that my effort has dropped, I might still be getting in early, leaving late, hitting the KPIs. BUT, what has really happened is that I’m just going through the motions. I’ve lost sight of my targets, goals and how I set out to achieve them.

Sales and recruitment is cyclical; it ebbs and flows like the tide. The key is to have short achievable goals that you can use as markers, points in time to reflect on your performance and keep yourself on track and try prevent those big sways in performance.

Self-monitoring is vital. You need to have three or four clear points that you check on weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually. It’s either when you don’t have these or you have not checked on them recently is when trouble begins. The best recruiters don’t forget this, keep it simple and pick up they are heading into a rut early, correct it, revaluate their goals and go again.

It sounds easy enough, but it’s remarkably hard in practice. It takes self-discipline, determination and resilience in equal measures.

But if you stick to your short term goals and targets, you may have small blips in performance but you will be a hugely successful recruiter in the long term.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help, no matter how senior you are or how long you have been doing the job, recognising when you need help and asking for it is vital.


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