There is a lot to be said for experience. With experience we gain wisdom and have the opportunity to learn from our earlier mistakes. Getting good as a recruitment consultant, in part, takes experience. Once you have successfully (and unsuccessfully!) filled a number of requirements you get to know your own strengths and weakness better. It can take a good 6-12 months to really start to see a consistency of achievement in this job. Part of that is experience. There is many a recruiter out there who has “arrived” at this point and quite rightly has celebrated the success and can feel justly proud of what they have accomplished. Some of these individuals can start to become complacent. “I know what I’m doing” (Yes – in the main you do, you know what it takes to be as good as you are currently) “I don’t need any training or coaching” (Yes you do! Everyone needs a consistent opportunity to develop more skills or improve on existing ones!). Yet despite this there are those who consider themselves to be beyond the need for personal development. These are the consultants I meet who plateau out at what I would describe as “consistent mediocrity”. That doesn’t always mean they are bad, just “vanilla”. You know what I mean by that, plain, expectedly safe and blending into the masses. Eventually the wheels fall off the machine as the consultant or recruiter starts to unknowingly cut corners. They forget what they took for granted. The lack of consistent focus on skill development creates a dulling of the senses and performance starts to slip. On occasion it can take a loss of a client (or a recession) to highlight how “comfortable” they have become with their existing clients. These are the people you may have heard say “I need to go back to basics”. What they should say is “I should never have taken my eye off the ball and left the basics behind.”
One of the most popular reasons for joining the company I work for is to benefit from the extensive training available. Being biased I agree it is pretty good. What surprises me more when I meet these new starters (often with 2 – 5 years experience gained elsewhere) is how little ownership of their own development they take.
“My previous employer didn’t value it’s employees and there was very little training available for me”
I hear that, though it sounds more like this to me:
“I didn’t take personal responsibility for my own development and expected my employer to do it.”
You may think I am being harsh. I disagree. When each of these recruiters is prepared to pay, yes! Pay! To have their car serviced every year (even when it appears to be working fine!!) as much as £300. Why can they not make a similar investment in themselves? Do they not see it as their responsibility or as a worthwhile investment?? £300 could pay for an open course for a day, a couple of sourcing webinars or a pile of books!
The best I have worked with have invested in themselves and taken ownership of their own development. Even when there has been training available where they work. It is good to hear another person’s ideas and perspective. It is good to read about other people’s experience (it is experience that gives the opportunity to write a book with authority).
So, for those of you willing to make an investment in yourselves, I have compiled my personal list of books that I would recommend you buy to read. Now, I have to write “buy to read” as some people have been known to “buy to keep on a shelf”. To benefit – read it. All these books are on my bookshelf and I am recommending them because they are good. I have also read a lot of books that were crap (perhaps another blog post??).
So here they are:
- Breakthrough! – How to explode the production of Experienced Consultants – Steven M Finkel. This book has been a constant companion to me for 12 years now. A regular book I still read. Full of great pieces of advice and stuff that truly works. It looks at the whole process and takes each area and breaks down what to do to ensure maximum success. Steve Finkel is a master at being able to simply summarise what it takes to succeed in a search environment. Order direct from Steve as not in mainstream circulation.
- Selling to Win – Richard Denny. An easy reading book that gets right to the heart of what it takes to succeed in sales. Big focus on relationships which makes it perfect for recruiters. No jargon, no rubbish, just down to earth easy to implement advice. The author has also subsequently set up his own recruitment business specialising in Sales Professionals!
- New Solution Selling – Keith M Eades. Massively eye opening and one I would recommend to the seasoned veteran. Anyone who thinks that they know it all about sales has got to get this book. This is the person who trained Microsoft and IBM to sell properly. Scaleable to RPO £100m+ sales or for single transaction based recruitment opportunities. More technical in content and a little more challenging to read than the other two, it is still none the less exceptional. With template client letters, emails and full of really useful flow diagrams this will really make you think about what you are trying to do with your sales activity.
- Influence The Psychology of Persuasion – Dr Robert B Cialdini. 30 years of research have created this definitive title looking at how to create more influence. Full of true stories, experiments (the scientist in me loves to read about experiments) and loads of ways to make your job easier by making influence easier to replicate. Just buy it, before everyone else reading this hits amazon before you!
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R Covey. I tried hard to select publications you may not have heard of. This book is one of the best selling business books of all time. I will point out though most people I know who own it have not read all of it. Many can talk about habit 1; Not many can talk about habit 7 as they didn’t get that far! A book I can read again and again and find other learning points I missed previously.
So that’s my top 5. I am sure there are books you have read you feel should be on the list. I may not have read them so please tell me what they are! My final words are these: Make some time to read one of these. Everyone has the time (we all have exactly 24 hours each it just seems others are better at managing it) so, in the words of Gary Vaynerchuk “Stop watching F*****g lost!” and do something more worthwhile. Develop yourself – buy a book, download a podcast (coming at some point in the future from Recruitment Dad) or watch a TED talk. Most of all, do something that will help you to continue to improve.
Really want to make a difference to your sales ability? Read Recruitment Dad’s Top 10 tips for planning success.
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