If you’re in the Search and Placement business right now, your timing is terrific.  Historically, our industry has always been one of L-O-N-G boom, followed by a bust …. followed by another

L-O-N-G boom!  We are only two or three years into this boom.  Lots of time to go! Moreover, as this is written, we stand on the verge of our greatest times ahead, beyond anything we have every seen.

Why?  No secret.  Population trends.  The giant Baby Boom generation of 1946-1963, 78 million of them, aren’t kids any more.  They currently hold down the vast majority of positions in corporate America.  And following them, in the next 17-year time frame, we have the Gen X-ers, 43 million of them, to fill the same positions now held by the 78 Million boomers.  You are already seeing the leading edge of this situation.  For the decade of 2000 to 2010, workers 55 and over will increase by 77%, four times the rate of those from 25 to 54.  The oldest boomers will start retiring in 2008.  And it will continue, fewer and fewer qualified candidates to fill corporate positions, for 17 years!  Hmmmm!… Long term labor shortage, anyone?

In such a market, however, there is a great tendency to drift away from the habits and thought patterns of success.  Earning a good living or even doing extremely well is not enough.  In a boom market, you must maximize your production.

Here are 15 reminders or ideas designed to help you to do so. Check yourself against the following, and see how well you do.

1)        Early Arrival – Did you arrive in our office on time this morning?  This means no later than 8:30!  If not, you are “coasting,” just sailing along on a good market.  Establish the right habit patterns right now. Otherwise, you are forfeiting the income that should be yours.

2)        Daily Planner – Was your written planner fully filled-out this morning?  A brilliant but unplanned search consultant will be out-produced by a good well-planned one.  Paul Hawkinson, editor of The Fordyce Letter, has written that, “One of the things all top producers have in common is that they are well-planned.”  Is that you?

3)   Five Calls before 9:30 A.M. – Survey after survey has shown that most business sales are   made before noon.  No early time on the phone means wasting the most productive time. Even if you are not a “morning person”, grit your teeth and do it!  To quote the author, “push the stupid buttons on the phone!”

4)       Early “Reward Program” – It is not easy for some to acquire the habit of hitting the phones early.  But with a little effort, you can psychologically train yourself to doing so. Just give yourself a “reward” (cup of coffee, short walk around the office, whatever works) after five presentations.  No five presentations, no reward!  By doing

so, you will develop the habit of an early start.

5)   Limited Non-Business Calls – Personal calls are business killers!  They significantly interfere with your concentration, besides taking time away from work. No more than one a day, either incoming or outgoing.  And no more than five minutes!  For information on how to reduce these calls without irritating the caller, see the book “Breakthrough!”

6)       Five New Prospective Account Presentations, Three Minimum – Every day in almost any market, you must search for new clients.  Client relationships are not “forever”; your clients today will not be the same in three years … and shouldn’t be! Expand and upgrade, or lose.  Equally to the point, too few searches means working on what you do have.  Lack of prospecting means it may be the wrong one.

7)      Thirty Extensive Conversations

There is much more to “numbers and ratios” than “hash marks.” But keeping track of extensive business conversations is the place to start.  New people will need more calls to achieve this number, but will not have more of these extensive business discussions than will the experienced.  But every day, thirty real conversations a day will keep the bill collector away, if your skills are right.

8)      An Interview a Day – Your first thought on planning your day for tomorrow must be “where will I get my interview?” Phone interviews count. A first contact between candidate and client is an interview.  A daily push for an interview will yield you results – in any market.  Many days, of course, will not produce an interview  … but it should always be your goal and first thought.

9)   New Sign on Your Phone – Improving your skills is a habit.  An easy way to do this is to post a note on your phone every week reminding yourself to implement a new on-the-phone habit pattern.

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10)     Stay Till 5 P.M … At Least! – A habit of “ducking out” early will get worse and worse over time, eventually becoming a downward spiral.  If you try to “beat the traffic,” eventually the market will beat you!

11) Skill Improvement Tonight? – Andrew Carnegie wrote that, “Careers are made or marred after working hours.”  At least three days a week, you should be reading a chapter in a business book, critiquing your own taped call, watching part of a business video, always striving to improve.  If you commute, listening to good audiocassettes on the way to work (suggestion: makes a great deal of sense.

12) Reading in the Office? – Office time is for planning and implementing.  Whether general newspaper, magazines, or industry newsletters, reading should be done after hours.  Stay focused on production in the office.

13) Office Conversations – Whether non-business discussions or pointless conversations started by non-productive people, this is a trap!  Pleasantries are fine, but more than five minutes is too much.

14) Stay Off the Internet – Innumerable surveys have proved that most web shopping, surfing and chat is done during business hours.  If this is you, it will drain your results.  This author was recently quoted in Investors Business Daily‘s “Leaders and Success” section saying, “click your Internet connection off, so you are not tempted to use it.  Turn it on only when you really need to, and then turn it back off!”  What is recommended for Investors Business Daily readers is also recommended for you.

15) “No Computer” Day – So you think your computer helps you to increase production? Maybe.  But try this.  At least one day a week, implement a “no computer day.”  If you have everything computerized, just do hard copy printouts (known as paper) the day before, and roar through your day until planning time without turning it on.  If you’re a manager, try this for your entire office. Expect to see your staff completing all planned calls early in the day. Why do you think that might be?

How do you measure up on the 15 points?  There is more to success in our business than staying effective and focused.

Without solid skills, you will be out of luck.  But good markets and bad, it is the place to start.

Our industry and your production will be doing better and better in coming years.  You are probably doing well right now.  But those who fail to truly maximize our current market reduce their success, their income and the enjoyment of a job well done.

Do your best now to improve in every way.  Great times are ahead!

Acclaimed international author, speaker, and trainer Steve Finkel is a veteran of over 30 years and six recessions in our industry. Personnel Consultant Magazine, published by the National Association of Personnel Consultants, has referred to him as possessing "the most in-depth knowledge of search and placement in industry history." Recruitment International Magazine, Europe's largest industry publication, has described him as "the world's premier author and trainer in search and recruitment." His revised and up-to-date 360-page book Breakthrough! is now distributed in 25 countries and is also available on Amazon. Contact him at 314-991-3177 or