Stop focusing on placements and INCREASE your revenues!

Apr 1, 2008

While all professions have their sources of frustration, the recruiting profession is in a unique position because we can be frustrated by either side of the sale. Clients and/or candidates can change their mind or go back on their word. If we were financial advisors and we consulted with a client who chose to invest in 100 shares of IBM, those shares couldn’t say “I don’t want to be in your client’s portfolio!”

Let’s face it: making a placement is an emotional nightmare and is a culmination of a number of activities. Frankly, making a placement is truly the one thing we can’t control in the placement process. Think about it: we cannot control the decision on either side. Can we influence it? Absolutely. Control it? Absolutely not!

If this is true, then why is the main focal point of most owners and managers the ONE thing they can’t control? This is a recipe for perpetual frustration and makes running a search firm educated guess work. Stop focusing on placements. Today! You heard me, stop focusing on placements and focus on what counts … ACTIVITY.

I am going to talk about the taking and tracking of numbers. For those of you reading beyond the last sentence, congratulations! Many have disengaged. We all learned this, yet my experience with my client search firm owners is that few actually do it. My experience is also that those who take, track, and execute to specific targets rarely fail. Actually, they are usually among the highest-producing offices out there.

As we know, placements are a function of interviews and job orders. Interviews and job orders are a function of live presentations, which are a function of attempts. While we don’t control placements, we do control the number of attempts. Attempts and good presentations lead to good job orders and candidates. These can be measured daily and weekly, and tracked over time are predictable.

Again, we all know this, yet most don’t do it. Why? It is Boring with a capital “B”! I don’t take our numbers; I have a service called the lock-on report that emails each AE every Friday morning as a reminder to send their data in. The data is compiled and sent to me in a very easy-to-use format. It is by far the best tool for tracking numbers and seeing their relationship on the market. I don’t recommend the owner or manager take numbers from AE’s with more than six months’ experience, because it won’t happen! Have your administrator do it and put it on a spreadsheet if you don’t want to pay a service to do it.

Now that I have set the table, here are the steps to reducing AE frustration and increasing revenues by putting them in control of their income and their desk.

Follow this simple formula and hold people accountable to execution:

1) Discover what a placement is. By that I mean, how many first-time interviews does it take to make a placement? How many job orders does it take to make a placement? How many candidates do you have to speak with to get one on an interview? How many prospects to take a job order? What is your average fee? Key: if you don’t know, make an educated guess and adjust as you go on … you will develop solid numbers and ratios after three to six months. You can also use the benchmarks in the examples below if you haven’t tracked number as they are close to industry averages.

2) Take their annual production goal and break it down into activity (i.e., AE’s goal is $240k gross production, your average fee is $20,000, and thus you need 12 placements). Each placement is nine first-time interviews and six job orders. Each first-time interview is 20 candidate connects and each job order is 15 prospect connects.

3) Take these numbers and break down to weekly activity. On the above example, $240k = 12 placements = 108 1st time interviews (9 1st interviews x 12 placements), 72 job orders (6 JO’s x 12 plmts). So this recruiter needs to take 1.38 job orders a week or rounded up, three every two weeks and arrange 2.07 interviews per week to be on target.

4) Take these numbers and break them down daily. Each first-time interview is 20 candidate connects or 40 per week, eight per day to get two first-time interviews per week. Each job order is 15 live prospect connects or 23 per week, five per day to get 1.5 job orders per week. This means an account executive in your office with a goal of $240k in gross production needs to make 13 live new presentations or connects per day (eight recruiting and five marketing).

When you do this as an owner or manager you have defined success daily. Again, placements are fairly random events outside of your control. Good recruiters in the professional placement area make only one placement per month on average, meaning they go home 21 out of 22 working days per month without closing a deal. How do they know if they had a good or bad day those other 21 days? Using this methodology, the answer is simple … they spoke with 13 people.

In the near 19-year history of my office, only one person who hit their daily numeric targets failed …ONE! That’s it! The ones who either fail in the business or fail to hit their goals have one thing in common: they fail to hit their daily numbers on a consistent basis.

We, as owners and managers, can give this gift of “certainty” to our people by tracking their activity. You are in a position to coach them daily or weekly to make adjustments vs. waiting months for the placements that do not materialize to define a “slump.”

If this makes sense and you are going to implement it, expect severe resistance. As much as you may dislike taking numbers, AE’s hate tracking them more. For new hires, this will be easy, as it is part of the job. For tenured AE’s, show them the formula first, tie it in with THEIR goals, and ask them if they are deadly committed to hitting their goals. Then ask them if they want you to coach them to that production number and hold them accountable. If they do, and my experience shows they will, you are now managing them to their own self-defined expectation, not your “random” goal.

Following this methodology of focusing on daily and weekly production vs. “making placements” hands more control of success to the account executive. There is tremendous power in telling an AE “hit these activity numbers and the placements WILL happen.” As said earlier, they have little control over a placement. When we focus on what we CAN control, and take the focus off what we can’t “frustration with the business” plummets. While this strategy will not eliminate frustration, the producer will experience less of it as they can see visually where they are in the process. Acknowledge and celebrate the hitting of weekly targets to show your focus is off of placements and my experience shows production will increase dramatically!

Michael Gionta’s seven-part audio series on The 7 Deadly Sins of Search Firm Owners and How to Avoid Them is available at Learn the most common mistakes owners make and some practical tips you can implement immediately to grow your business. Michael is an emerging coach and trainer to owners who are frustrated and want to grow their business. Michael has over 18 years as an owner and billing manager. He has ranked in the top 2% to 3% of Management Recruiters offices for several years. As a billing manager, he ranked as high as 2nd with over $2,200,000 in annual personal production. He can be reached at