Here Are 10 Spoons of Advice for Managing Your Recruiting Energy

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Oct 27, 2016
This article is part of a series called How-Tos.

When your day is full of sourcing, screening, interviewing, negotiating, reporting and more, it’s important to stay focused. I’m going to show how you to focus on delivery by prioritizing your energy throughout the workday.

Walking into the office in Atlanta on my first day of work, I could feel my heart beating in my throat. As the doors to the elevator opened, I took a deep breath and walked into the ”fish bowl,” which was an all-glass conference room on the corner of the office floor, and everyone was busily working. The floor was filled with cubicles which were divided by the technical delivery folks and the consulting sales folks — my group. It was an energetic group; we rang a bell every time we won a deal and ran to high five whoever got the deal. It was competitive, but we were a team.

In the beginning of my career, I had an endless supply of energy which I used to pursue deals. I was teased in the office for the speed at which I walked around. “Slow down,” they told me. “What’s the rush?” they asked. But I couldn’t slow down. I was on a mission to learn, grow, and build a career which would allow me, the only member of my immediate family to complete college, the chance to be an independent and successful woman. I didn’t take the mission lightly. I was given a desk, a phone and a few days of training before I was sent forth to find clients for the PeopleSoft Consulting business. Easy enough, I thought. I learned the terminology and off I went. After several “no thank you” calls, I started to get the “yes, let’s meet” calls, which set off an adrenaline rush inside of me, unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Success tasted sweet. I wanted more.

Consulting sales led to recruiting and recruiting led to management. I was enjoying an almost 20-year career as an independent woman. Everything was moving in the direction I had always planned. I was stretching myself and growing quickly in the field I am passionate about. The endless supply of energy I felt at the beginning of my career was starting to feel more like an endless supply of fatigue.

Energy, Where Art Thou?

My brain was still overflowing with energy and ideas but my body was not keeping pace. “What is going on?” I wondered. The fatigue was accompanied by pain, nausea, and vomiting. Must be a long-lasting bug I thought, so to the doctor I went. Blood work and other tests showed inflammation but nothing to worry about, so I didn’t. I went about my life ignoring the symptoms — hoping to overcome them with my big brain and power of positive thinking. The shock I felt when that didn’t work is hard to describe. It always worked; why not now? More doctors and more tests but no real help — my frustration was mounting. I have a career, people — I’m on a mission — I do not have time for this disobedience from my body! Finally, a specialist with a brilliant eye and mind finds the right clues and runs the right test — am I finally free from this unwanted visitor that is causing my body to revolt?

She sits me down and explains it is Dysautonomia, like I should know what this means. The autonomic nervous system is the basis for all day-to-day human functions — heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, swallowing, digestion, temperature regulation, etc. My nerves are damaged and this is causing a disruption in my body. OK, let’s fix it — we know what it is — let’s fix it. It’s not that easy, unfortunately. She tells me the best option is to learn to live with it and adapt, recognize the triggers, and avoid them. My brain is working overtime but I can’t move my lips to express the thoughts. Doesn’t she know I am on a mission? I am a career woman. I do not have time for this. I will think it away. I do not need your help, doctor.

My entire career has been built around solutions — analyzing problems, recommending solutions, and tracking the results of said solutions. My team knows to come to me with the solution — not the problem. Finding solutions involves a delicate balance between what we have the ability to change and that which we cannot change. In recruitment, we can collaborate to change certain required skills or compensation but we cannot change the culture of a company. The sourcing and marketing plan is adapted to overcome the obstacles and the team works within the parameters set forth, which is also known as solutions delivery.

I was more determined than ever to overcome this dreaded, unwanted visitor wreaking havoc on my physical body. Much to my surprise, determination didn’t change my symptoms; in fact, the more energy I spent denying the obvious, the worse I felt. “Why is this happening to me?” I thought. I felt alone and defeated on my mission. My endless supply of energy was more like a slow drip. How will I manage my career with just small amount of energy? Acceptance and adaptation, that is how.

Focus the Energy for Delivery With the Four Ds

As I struggled to adapt to this unwanted visitor, I came to better understand the importance of focused energy — The Spoon Theory. It’s not a mainstream term, but it aptly describes how someone with a chronic illness can still lead a successful and meaningful career with less energy. It can also be applied to the recruitment process as a way in which to focus energy so as not to become distracted by extraneous noise.

Let’s say each work day, there are 10 spoons of energy — carefully plan where they will be spent. The successful allocation of energy is critical to success, as is focus. Focus on the goal.

In order to stay focused — prioritize energy in these four ways:

  1. Deliverables — Plan ahead. Before logging off each evening, review the schedule for the following day. Prepare in advance and be respectful of other people’s time. Be aware of the tasks that will require the greatest expenditure of energy. Schedule those tasks during the time of day when energy is highest (four spoons).
  2. Data — Real-time updates to systems and tools. In order to understand the ROI of the tools used, have accurate data. Confirm the source code of candidates during the initial interview. Input concise notes on requisition and candidate activity. Use the data as motivation for improved production (three spoons).
  3. Dialogue — Everyone gets caught up in the ease of email communication. It is a less intrusive means of obtaining and providing information, but the discussion of complex information is better delivered live. Tone is often read into emails when there was no intention of the perceived tone. A live conversation eliminates miscommunication and helps build rapport and credibility with key stakeholders. Walk down the hall or pick up the phone. Be timely with feedback. Schedule a standing meeting to provide updates throughout the recruitment cycle (two spoons).
  4. Distractions — Just because this is No. 1 on the list does not mean it is of any less importance than No 1. It is not necessary to read emails or instant messages the moment of arrival. Instead, check email three to four times a day. Focus on what matters — the end goal. The results will reflect focus or distractions. It is up to you (one spoon).

Recruiting has taught me so much — not just about companies and jobs, but people, and the understanding that everyone is on a mission. The missions vary but in the end, we are all in need of that sweet taste of success. Energy is everything. It drives the universe, it drives technology, and most importantly — it drives people. Recruiters are detectives, counselors, administrators, and partners. Wearing so many hats requires a great deal of energy to manage. The energy waxes and wanes. Which fire is burning brightest often dictates the focus of the energy. Working so close to the fire often leads to burnout. Avoid the attraction of the fire and focus on the end goal: delivery.

This article is part of a series called How-Tos.
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