Food for Thought

Mar 1, 2008

“Here’s your MPC (most placeable candidate), here is your script, and here’s the list of 100 companies I want you to call and present him to between 9 am and 4 pm tomorrow. By the way, if you do not get through the entire list, don’t bother coming to me at 4 pm, or come to work the next day for that matter.”

I was in shock. This was only day three of my employment as an account executive with a national franchised recruiting firm, and I had actually quit outstanding employment to accept this position and enter “the exciting world of search and recruiting.” (As many know, most end up in this business by asking to be placed). I didn’t realize that my training involved being thrown to the wolves, and I was now wondering if I had made a big mistake. I was being asked to jump on the telephone and cold call 100 business leaders and make a fool of myself as I fumbled through my script describing my first candidate. And this was supposedly a “profession??”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but getting on that telephone and making hundreds of calls and, yes, fumbling around, is the only way to learn this business. There is NO OTHER WAY to succeed. As difficult as it was for me to accept, success only comes from putting my words into the ears (note: “ears” not “eyes” as with email or written material such as resumes) of people who can hire someone, and also authorize payment of a significant amount of money. As my manager told me at the end of a frustrating day of plowing through my 100 calls for that day: “If I could take an IV with 10,000 calls in it and inject it into your arm, you would understand.”

That office I was employed by in the early 1980s produced at a top 5% level for the entire industry. We had $200K annual cash in production per desk, for ten desks, almost phenomenal numbers for that time. Each desk was required to produce two managerial/professional level placements per month or that recruiter was terminated. That seemed harsh to many at the time, but I had been in the Marines, so I knew better than most the value of tough and uncompromising standards. It paid off. It was the manager’s insistence on us getting on the telephone and staying there that was the key.

Today, I believe nothing has changed regarding the telephone and our business. Cold calling and call volume remain the staples of this business, and it’s a misguided belief that that has changed. This is causing the downfall of previously successful practitioners and the failure of new people in our business. I strongly believe there remains no other path to success than the telephone, and alternative means of communication such as email, text messaging and other ways to avoid direct confrontation, are killing our business. Don’t do it! If you are new to our business, resign yourself to this: if you desire success, you must make between 70 and 100 outbound cold calls to business leaders each day, every day, for the next two years. If you are not going to do that, you will fail.

Here are some questions to consider: Do you “debrief” an interview with a candidate or employer through email? Do you use email to “close” a placement? Do you use email to prepare a candidate for an interview? Do you have this illusion that when an employer says “email the resume to me today and I’ll get back to you tomorrow about scheduling an interview” that you are actually going to get the interview?

Live (or die) by this: Every time you use email in a placement process, your probabilities of success diminish significantly.

Anything in our business that can be accomplished by using the telephone should be done through the telephone. Before performing any task, ask yourself this question “Can this be done by telephone?” (Note: do not ask yourself “can this be done more efficiently by email?” because it is too easy to answer “yes”). The telephone is obviously tougher than email, especially in this age of remote communication, but only telephonic communication allows you the ability to address and overcome objections immediately, before the prospect has the chance to create an argument which can defeat your purpose. Additionally, only the telephone allows you the ability to use voice inflection, and to ask closing questions. Finally, only the telephone allows you the ability to put words directly into the ears (and minds) of people who can hire your candidates and pay your fees!

Neil McNulty is president of McNulty Management Group (MMG), ( , a firm which uses, and licenses placement firms to use, its proprietary “30/30 Placement Programâ„¢”, the nation’s most effective method for placing transitioning military personnel into civilian employment within thirty days and within thirty miles of where the transitioning military person desires to live. MMG is accepting new30/30 licensees for 2008. Call 757-460-0510 for details.