Stay Ahead of the Pack: Achieve Your 2008 Goals

Feb 1, 2008

The goals are set, they are in writing and are posted where I can see them – it is time to jump into the year, full steam ahead. For me, the thrill of the game, the anticipation, the excitement, and the anxiety that accompanies executing a plan are all fuel for the engine. A key for me is staying in tune with my future achievements and being very well in tune with when I am on track or off track; and self-correcting as necessary.

Discernment is a learned skill or a natural talent required for most of us who call recruiting our career. In my work as a behavioral selection expert, I often recommend that my clients not attempt to coach or train an employee or a candidate in developing discernment. The only person who can impact one’s discernment is oneself. The need or the pain has to be so strong that a person can no longer tolerate his or her lack of discernment and then chooses to get better.

Unfortunately in our business, typically newbies or rookies, as we call them, tend to take the route of flight versus fight. This is why it is so critical to hire people with a fire in their belly so strong that no matter what their weakness, they take the case of improvement as the only option. defines discernment in the following manner:


1. the faculty of discerning; discrimination; acuteness of judgment and understanding.
2. the act or an instance of discerning.

-Synonyms 1. judgment, perspicacity, penetration, insight.

KeenHire’s behavioral selection software describes “discernment” as the ability to sort the critical from the superfluous. We branded the term discernment as astuteness. Being astute is a critical behavior not only in our industry, but also to succeed in business in general.

In selecting future employees, new searches, new customers, and new candidates, discernment is required. In developing your brand, discernment is required; in marketing and in selling, discernment is required. You cannot get around it – critical, quick thinking is a trait that comes with the game of achieving your goals, staying on track, and running your book of business.

While in a search and selection process for a new employee, a recruiter, a researcher, a sales rep, or the hybrid do-it-all, “run a full desk” person, it is mandatory that you set yourself up to win. Proactively setting yourself up to win is what it is all about.

Start by defining the role. As all of the previously mentioned roles are different, know what you will and won’t compromise on and then stick to your guns. Utilize your common sense. You know that you cannot force someone or inspire someone to want success. They either have that ambition or they don’t, and no matter who you think you are or how great your numbers say you are, you absolutely cannot instill long-term passion in another human being, even your children. You can guide and coach, and that is about it.

There are some traits that can be coached and some that can be taught. The question is, “Are you patient enough to train someone, and then train them again, and then again?” Studies on performance data highlight that it takes an average human being 24 months to learn a new competency. This means that every time you train a new person who is ill-equipped with the natural strengths to do the job, you are committing to spending 24 months to get them effective. If you are up for that game, good. If you are not, don’t hire the person.

Selling is a large part of our world, and choosing who you prospect is critical to your success. Only while selling office supplies is everyone a potential customer. Once you brand yourself or your company properly, your ideal prospect is revealed with clarity. Now it is time to target those ideal prospects with discipline and precision. Staying focused on what you offer that is different and better than anyone else is a surefire way to tailor your research, your plan, and your conversations.

While email marketing, make sure that you are using a program like Targetware, so you can follow up with people who clicked through your email and had some level of interest versus attempting to contact all recipients. A good prospecting script, with probing questions that reveal if a potential customer has the pain your service can relieve, is a smart tool for the discerning salesperson. Practicing discernment means wanting to receive the no. No is one step closer to yes. Prospects that were mistakenly identified automatically self-select out, and you no longer need to waste your time calling them. A salesperson with discernment wants to end each call with a no, a yes, or a lesson learned.

Recruiting and selection is our world. It is what we do. The days of finding a good résumé and submitting to a client are long over. Success in this business is contingent on our ability to recruit and select the people our clients believe are worth a placement fee. Whether it is said or not, most astute companies are analyzing return on their investment for their staffing expense and placement fees. Being discerning is asking the right questions when establishing a foundation for the search. It is critical to making the right placement and is even more critical to building a long-term partnership with growing companies. It means uncovering the reasons why a good person might or might not fit. It means discovering why past candidates were hired or rejected. It means uncovering the fundamentals of why certain employees are deemed top performers and/or are promoted or why past employees were low-level performers and/or were terminated. It means finding the answer and then probing further, uncovering more than the customer was expecting you to uncover or even more than they even thought to uncover. It is the asking of the tough and challenging questions that separates you from just another recruiter trying to make a buck.

Being discerning when taking on a search is a lot like the Sesame Street game “One of these things just doesn’t belong here,” and we learned that type of deductive reasoning in preschool. Utilizing it as an adult is absolutely mandatory in creating a name for ourselves as a selection expert.

Using your discernment and staying in tune with the end game is one of the best behaviors that you can practice. Hanging out with the right people, learning from people who are where you want to be, opening yourself up to new ideas that challenge you at the core, and saying no to people, places, and things that are a distraction – all are tactics that will forward your success both on your desk and in your life.

Margaret Graziano, CPC, CTS, and mother of three, has been a top producer in the staffing and recruiting industry for the past 20 years and had owned her own firm since 1991. She prides herself on client retention and making the right hires. She has earned over $5 million in personal “desk production” income and has placed over 2,000 candidates in direct-hire positions. With the competitive business world and the war for talent in full force, Margaret’s company, Alliance HR Network, has ventured into new realms of talent acquisition, organizational development, and human capital consulting services, thus diversifying Alliance’s revenue streams and gaining new and exciting talent acquisition and assessment consulting opportunities. Margaret’s email is, and her phone number is (847) 690-0077. The strategic planning forms are listed under a Strategic Planning Downloads section at

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