Show Them More Than the Money

Article main image
Oct 1, 2013

I like to challenge my clients to move out of their comfort zone; to push the envelope on everyday “recruiter” and “owner” thinking.

In this vein, I challenged all of my Platinum Coaching clients to an assignment, read the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink, and be prepared to discuss the key concepts, and how they apply to running a recruiting business while at our two day retreat some months back.

It’s amazing what happens when you put together a group of forward thinking recruiting firm owners and challenge them with some new ideas! One of the many concepts we discussed was the age-old philosophies on compensating our recruiters.

One of the most common questions I get asked as a coach/consultant to recruiting firms is, “How do you pay your recruiters?” Or, “What’s the best way to pay recruiters?”

Money Isn’t Everything

Drive coverYes, compensation is important, yet I see most people with recruiters focus so much on the actual percentages that they are blind to the fact that money is NOT the primary tool to retain your great recruiters!

You see, Pink discusses how, after we achieve a certain base level of compensation (different for each one of us), the single greatest motivator is seeing progress in one’s work, followed by learning, and professional development. Yet, most recruiting firm owners focus primarily on commission structures.

Based on these ideas, we brainstormed a few ideas. Keep in mind the below are significantly edited, as we brainstormed these strategies and concepts for hours.

Other Motivators

To enhance progress in recruiters and make it recognizable to them:

  • Give SPECIFIC targets, whether activity, training, etc to your recruiters with defined benchmarks for success. The key here is not to put out huge reach goals that will actually inhibit success, but goals that with normal, defined effort will allow for success.
  • Let your experienced recruiters pick the training they perceive they need and invest in it for them. If you are already a member of one of the many online training sites, let them choose which modules to watch. Make sure you agree on a deadline and outcome goals for the program they enroll in.

Additionally, I see many owners pay very generous commission structures and then make their recruiters pay to attend national conferences like the Fordyce Forum or NAPS out of their own commissions. Investing in your people shows them you care about them and their progress. While they may not see the benefit of investing in themselves because they perceive they can’t afford it, they will gladly attend when you invest (notice I didn’t say “pay”) for them to attend. Make sure you get some strong return on investment from their attendance by making them write down four or five key take-aways that they will implement on their desk, and get a defined date to do it.

  • Put in place a process for experienced recruiters to mentor new hires. Based on the concepts in the book and from our own observation, the reward of mentoring should suffice in most instances where formal management by the mentor is not required. As a matter of fact, you risk lowering the effectiveness of the mentoring by compensating for it! In the book, Pink discusses several instances where people had more fun, were more engaged, and more effective when they were not paid to do certain tasks. Control groups in these studies, where the participants were paid, were, shockingly, LESS effective than the paid group!
  • Instead of managing recruiters to defined call count targets (i.e. 100 calls per day), coach them to define their own income goals. We were probably all brought up in the camp of our leaders and managers shouting, “Get back on the phone!” “Make more calls!!!”, etc. Sure, we should, but did that highly strategic method work? It probably worked for that day, or ambitiously it may have worked that week.

First, identify what your recruiters’ financial goals are, EXACTLY. Ask them if they are committed to that number and get permission to hold them accountable to THEIR goals. Second, use good metrics to reverse engineer exactly and precisely what activity (i.e. placements, job orders, first time interviews, presentations, etc.) needs to occur on that recruiter’s desk, each day, each week, and each month to insure they hit the goal they set for themselves.

In summary, money is not always the primary motivator for success in our career, ESPECIALLY after we make enough to cover our base expenses.

Allow more autonomy in your operation, increase your investment in your people WITHOUT having to increase their compensation and see paths to INCREASED revenue, retention and job satisfaction

Bonus Tip: To enroll for FREE in Mike’s 7 part audio series,The 7 Deadly Sins MOST Recruiting Firm Owners Make That Cost Them Tens of Thousands in Lost Profits & HIGH Turnover… & How to Avoid Them! visit This will give you more ideas on growing consistent revenue, getting recruiters more productive and evening out your cash flow. You can also visit his blog at for free articles on managing your recruiting firm.

Your first module will be emailed instantly and you will learn strategies you can implement immediately to build a search firm generating several million in revenue from some of the simple mistakes made and witnessed by author Michael Gionta in his 20 years building his own multimillion dollar firm. Additionally, Michael is sought out by recruiting firm owners who want to grow their firms but simply need the step-by-step process to vault them to the next level of success.