What Motivates a Great Recruiter?

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May 27, 2011

Is it the thrill of the chase?

Lots of votes on this one; if you start to read a resume and you start to get an adrenaline rush so strong that you hit yourself in mouth with the phone because you are in such a hurry to call that candidate, you know about the thrill of the chase.

Is it the thrill of the kill?

This one may win the election; there is nothing higher than a recruiter who just closed a big placement and nothing but a snake’s belly is lower than a recruiter who just lost a big one.

Is it that we fall into one of the psychiatric ICD 9 codes?

You don’t understand that? Google it and spend half a day; you WILL find your disorder. All great recruiters are a little crazy — nobody knows which came first, the disorder or a few years in the profession.

Is it that our jobs are different every day so we don’t do well as routine, 8-to-5 pencil-pushers?

If you are a recruiter and you work 8-5, you ain’t great. Don’t waste your time reading the rest of this, go get some certification and get a job taking teller applications at a small bank.

Is it that we just love working with people?

If you said yes to this one, you ain’t great and you ain’t been in this job very long and you’d best learn how to handle people in crisis — whether you love them or not.

Is it that we just love to sell anything?

Probably not, people make a lot more money selling airplanes, heavy equipment, school busses, and swimming pools and there aren’t that many people who sell them.

Is it that we have an innate ability to evaluate people and business situations to put the right person in the right situation to make the wheels of progress spin and think it is “kick ass boogie” when it works?

This one is up there with number 2 because if this ain’t part of it, your old aunt Maude could place a few herself by sheer dumb luck.

Is it that we are ,narcissistic communicators who like to talk about ourselves with the jobless, the panicked hiring manager, little kids on career day at Mrs. Smith’s 4th grade class  or any passing stranger who will listen?

A clue for you. Great recruiters talk 15% of the time and listen 85%. If just talking to people or blogging or tweeting about where you had breakfast is what motivates you, hit it a few licks and have a plan for your next career. Glassy eyes are not caused by wondrous rapture in this business, glassy eyes are caused by recruiters who talk too much and listen too little. If talking to people is your motivation, consider missionary work.or Toastmasters.

Is it the respect of the rest of the world for this noble profession that motivates a great recruiter?

Rodney Dangerfield complaining about no respect would have made a great recruiter. Great recruiters are not motivated by a need for respect. That happens only after you are one. If you are a tender soul who needs strokes and adoration for being you as a child of God, Start an orphanage, become a teacher, or take in stray animals or the homeless — noble professions, all of them.

My motivators

I know what motivates me. I like puzzles, finding stuff that people lose, Easter egg hunts, finding a lost dog nobody else can find, logistics, defalcation auditing, figuring things out, analyzing people and situations, and figuring out what makes people tick and what makes companies work, and then putting the two together so the puzzle falls in place, everybody calls it good, and the invoice gets sent. Then, NEXT…let’s go do another one.

Pressure motivates me; making money motivates me; difficult clients motivate me; weird job reqs motivate me. Making people laugh motivates me. I’m a “fixer” — it turns me on like a race horse on IV speed. I don’t put up with goofy garbage or things that get in my way. The things I hate, really hate, are pontificating, zealot, control freaks, liars, and whiners. I won’t “hit one and drag old Alice.” Those kinds of people drag me down, I would rather spend my summer vacation or Christmas in a leper colony.

Most of all, the thing that motivates me is saying, “I MADE A PLACEMENT TODAY!” Does it matter to whom I say it? Nope, not now but there was a time when it did matter who got to hear those words.

The First Motivator

When I started in recruiting (resumes were chipped out of stone tablets by little monks; they were heavy and could not be attached to applications), my divorce was about 45 minutes old, I had two grade school kids, and all of us were pretty shook up.

I explained to the troops what I was going to do for a living. Daddy and his trust fund had shuffled happily off to rehab. All they really understood was that I was going to help people find a job, it was called being a recruiter, and if I made a placement I got paid money. Okay , let’s roll.

Everyday when I came home, my son would look at me with a worried look and ask, “Mommy, did you make a placement today?” Every day for a month I had to answer, “Not today, sweetness, but don’t worry, maybe tomorrow.” Then see the look in those little, worried eyes…

Monday of week four I hit the floor with one thought: I cannot look at that little face one more day and say, “Not today, maybe tomorrow.” I’ll never really know whether it was divine providence, my turn, the hard work of those scary first three stumbling weeks, or if I willed it, but before that day was over three placements fell like the giant redwoods.

I walked in the door that evening. My serious little kid looked at me with his little worried look and said, “Mommy did you make a placement today?” I looked at him with a big grin and said, “No sweetness, I MADE THREE, as in 1,2,3 PLACEMENTS TODAY!”

My little kid ran to give me a hug with the biggest smile I had seen in months and said,


That is when one knows what it feels like and what needs to happen to be a GREAT recruiter.

He’s 47 now. Lives in a different city, calls every few days and says, “Hey Mom, did you make a placement today?” We both laugh.

So maybe all those motivators play a part, but what motivates me to be a “ Great Recruiter” is…… I MADE A PLACEMENT TODAY!

Do you know, really know, what motivates you to be a Great Recruiter? Let’s hear it, maybe your story will motivate someone else to “MAKE A PLACEMENT TODAY!

image source: Nono Fara