7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Recruiting Skills

By Steve Finkel

In the development of any recruiter/consultant, there comes a time when his learning curve slows. He reaches a plateau. It seems to him that he has learned all there is to know and that the days of major intellectual break-throughs are behind him. Boredom sets in. The adrenaline charge that comes with a successful placement can lessen. The work pace slows. Unless the consultant is quickly jolted out of his plateau, these changes may well become habitual.

What can be done for the individual who has reached this point in his development? How can he, with the help of his manager, rekindle the fire of enthusiasm that comes from a fast learning curve? Following are steps that have been utilized effectively to re-ignite enthusiasm and to rapidly increase skills and production.

1. Review all basic training and all notes made at previously attended speaking programs. What is learned from a given training program differs widely based on the state of development of the learner. A five-year consultant will absorb different information than a new person. Additionally, “knowledge erosion” – new information washing away the old – can cause one to drift away from important points. The person who claims he “already knows that material” will never know the material – because the information is now different as he is now different. Periodic review is essential.

2. Conduct occasional sales meetings for the firm. Aristotle once said that “the truest knowledge of an art is the ability to teach it”. Teaching forces one to organize his thoughts and formalize his knowledge. “Unconsciously competent” is not enough. Senior consultants should routinely conduct sales meetings in any case. It is especially important for one who has hit a temporary plateau to do so.

3. Read books on selling. Non-readers suffer a great handicap. If the consultant is not a reader, exposure to the world of relevant knowledge that exists in books will enhance his learning curve considerably. It will be important to be an active reader, i.e. to underline, make notes in the margin, and generally get involved. Used books stores offer a huge number of excellent business books at quite reasonable prices. Sales meetings may be conducted on the material that has been learned.

4. Tape and critique his own calls. If an outside sales rep were to video tape every sales call and critique his own performance, it would result in greatly improved skill. Professional athletes do so for the same reason. Our equivalent is a recording device or software. Fifteen minutes a day, three days a week, listening to his own calls at home, will get any “plateaued” consultant realizing where he can be improved – and taking steps to do so.

5. Signs on Your Phones. Making changes of any sort, whether utilizing different techniques or slowing ones pace in telephone conversations, require alteration of habit patterns. To do so requires ongoing reminders. Small signs taped to your phone will provide the needed reminders to make those changes consistent.

6. Role-playing. Role-playing is an excellent training device which benefits experienced people as much as novices. It will be important to compile a checklist for the person taking the part of client or candidate to judge the performance of the role-player. Such basics as correct pace, reinforcing positives, and the acknowledging of negatives before rebutting are often overlooked even by experienced people, who confuse knowing with doing. Role-playing and taping of calls (see #4) will correct this, and appreciably improve skills.

7. Take sales courses, either generic or, ideally, industry-specific. Good professional training will make it clear to a consultant whose learning curve has slowed that there is much left to be learned. It will both instruct and challenge such a person. The result will be a more enthusiastic, better motivated consultant who books more business!

In the development of any complex skill, even excellent performers will reach times when learning seems to have slowed. This situation is most frustrating to a person who wants to do better. If he is not shown how to stay on a rapid learning curve, the results can range from “burn-out” to bad business decisions. A good manager will guide an individual who has reached this point in the right direction. The end result will be greatly increased production, and a more motivated and happy consultant. The points outlined above will go far towards the accomplishment of this goal.

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