Five Lessons for Recruitment from the Professional Sports World

Sports man

How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 09

Five Lessons for Recruitment from the Professional Sports World

Today marks the launch of the 2014 Commonwealth Games and I’d like to say good luck to all contestants. 

I’ve often thought that recruiters live in a similar world to that of professional athletes. In both worlds there are great prizes that can be won however those prizes are at the end of a long journey littered with obstacles and tough competitors.

So to celebrate the launch of the Games here are some sports quotes and a quick thought about how they relate to recruitment:

 “Things happen throughout the season that throw you off sometimes but you have to learn from your mistakes”

Usain Bolt

One of the most powerful things you can do to accelerate your success in recruitment is to learn from your mistakes. The bigger the mistake hopefully the bigger the lesson you learn. And look at it like this. Think of it like this – when you have a big deal drop out make that lost commission at least pay for some education – work out what went adrift and understand what you could have done differently. The different steps you could have made might not have solved it but they might be strategies that are worth trying next time.

“The road to easy street goes through the sewer.”

John Madden, American Football Player and Coach

Most people when they come into recruitment and see the results the big billers get, and how easily they appear to get them, feel a level of jealousy. The thing with those results is that they are at the end of a long hard road … through the sewer as John puts it. You are going to have a long slog in recruitment before you are sitting pretty with good consistent income. Manage your expectations, work through the tough stuff and realise that every hard day is a day closer to better times.

“You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy.”

Arthur Ashe, Tennis Player

Consultants very often get caught up with the results and successes of the colleagues in the office. Far better I think to focus on your own efforts. Keep an eye on how they are doing but focus your main efforts on your own progress. At the end of the day you can’t spend their commission but you can spend yours so focus on what is making you money.

“It’s really important for me to look good before a race. I definitely think if I feel I look good, it makes me feel more confident.”

Jessica Ennis, Olympic Heptathlon Champion

It’s important to find what makes you feel confident. For some people, like Jessica, it’s appearance for others it might be a morning ritual before making those business development calls. Find what makes a different for you and make that part of your work routine. I guarantee there will be something that will put you in the zone and make you feel good!

 “Don’t quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

Mohammed Ali

It’s not just the early years where you can suffer in recruitment. Most big billers have had periods of bad luck, low billings and doubt about things ever coming good again. Listen to Ali and suffer through it. Keep the faith that things will come good and keep working to build your success back up and ultimately achieve the life you want. And always remember that by keeping going whilst you are suffering you are forging a stronger version of yourself.

Expanded Material

I might not be going to speak directly about sports people but I will be speaking directly about how to win in recruitment – whether you are an in-house recruiter or an external one I’m here to offer the best recruitment advice, tips and techniques.

Edenchanges podcast alert - the podcast is coming soon

After all as Bill Gates said

“Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast or a bridge player.”

But he’s not a sports professional so let’s keep the theme and end with a final sports quote:

“I learn’t teaching from teachers, golf from golfers and winning from coaches.”

Harvey Penick, Golf Champion

Until next time; be successful! 

Stephen Hart
Development Specialist,


Motivational Monday #81 Persistence Your Best Tool

Robert the Bruce

Motivational Monday #81 Persistence Your Best Tool

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.”

Calvin Coolridge

Last week I wrote about the power of stories and I was raised on stories of all kinds – from first- hand accounts of the antics my dad got up to in post war Glasgow to mythical legends of King Arthur, Cuchulain or Robert the Bruce.

One story that every Scottish child is taught, about Robert the Bruce, is how when he was on the run from the English after being defeated in battle he hid in a cave to gather his strength.

He had been running and hiding for days with the English patrols close at hand. His supporters had been scattered and he was alone, wounded and demoralised. The struggle against the English oppressors seemed un-winnable.

The legend goes that whilst this would-be saviour of Scotland was hiding in his dank, dark cave he reached a crisis of faith. The struggle seemed too much, the fight too hard and the chance of success too slim.

It was then that he spotted a small spider struggling to climb up the moist walls of the cave. Time and again the spider would climb up, a quarter or even sometime half the way up the height of the cave only to slip and fall back.

And then it would start again.

After watching the spider struggle for hours before it finally succeeded, Robert the Bruce picks himself up, dusts himself down and goes out and continues his struggle against the English and ultimately defeats them at the Battle of Bannockburn.

Now the thing about that story, which I heard from my parents many times as I was growing up, is that whilst it is concerned with a historical leader who then freed his people from oppression he isn’t the hero of the story.

The hero of the story is the humble spider. An insect not concerned with matters of state and power but simply trying to make its way in the world. And it had to make a real effort to do that.

And that’s the relevance that I see in the story for all of us. Even the small things in life take a level of persistence if we want to achieve our goals. Simply paying the bills, having a good relationship with your partner and family and maintaining a normal job take persistence.

Life demands constant effort but I think that’s okay because by putting in constant effort we get constant rewards. Sometimes these are less than eye catching but a quiet evening inside your own home with people you love has a deep value and is a wonderful reward if looked at from the right perspective.

If you are wanting more from life – whether that’s a bigger house, deeper relationships or a special career then your best tool to make that happen is persistence.

Be aware however that there will be other people who want the same goals as you and that puts them in competition with you for it. Further, consider that you probably are not the most talented, the most skilled or the most qualified out of all the people who want to achieve those goals. However if you are the most persistent then you will outdistance those that lack your perseverance.

The full quote from Calvin Coolridge is worth considering at this point:

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

So you don’t have to be the most talented, the smartest or the best educated … and I don’t know about you but I find that reassuring!

And consider this as a final point – maybe your real impact in the world will come from someone seeing your efforts and being inspired by your persistence to go after their own goals.

In other words maybe you’ll be someone else’s spider and that would be a pretty good legacy I think.

But what do you think – is persistence your best tool or is there something else that eclipses it? Do please comment below.

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE – If you’ve liked this article then you might like to subscribe to emailed updates (it’s free) – simply add your email address into the box on the right of your screen

Until next time, be successful!

Stephen Hart   

Development Specialist,
Image Credit: The headline image created by Edenchanges. Model is Jason Baca, international cover model. Click on the image for a larger version which you are welcome to download.

Lessons from the Wolf Pack #11 Keeping Hold of Candidates

Fractal fish on a wavy blue background - groovy!

Lessons from the Wolf Pack is an ongoing series of recruitment advice articles taken from, or inspired by, situations and events observed during our phone coaching sessions with recruitment consultants making real, live calls to win business and find candidates. This is advice directly from the recruitment front lines!

Lessons from the Wolf Pack #11

Keeping Hold of Candidates

Candidates can be slippery fish. Just when you think you’ve landed one they slip from between your fingers and dart off out of reach.

So what can you do about it?

Here are a handful of quick tips:

Treat them like people

And yes this applies to contract candidates as well. Too many consultants are still treating them like they are some form of poker chips that they can gamble around with.

If you want to gain traction with candidates then treat them as people. Discuss how they are feeling about their job search, find out what their actual aspirations are, what they are afraid of, what they are hopeful about.

The more deeply you talk with, listen to, and understand a candidate’s aspirations, hopes and fears relating to their job search then the stronger the relationship you will have with them.

You will also be differentiating yourself from those CV-shuffling recruiters who don’t care one bit about their candidates. And that’s going to lead to you establishing a much more positive reputation in the market place. In the long term treating candidates like people is an excellent way to win clients.

Understand their pressures

Many people have significant others in their lives – wives, husbands, children and even pets can be reasons for candidates not to take job offers. Make sure that you understand the full family that your candidate lives within.

The reality is that unless the candidate is entirely alone then you are actually dealing with a decision making unit when it comes to accepting the job offer.

Very few married people are going to accept a job offer without talking it through with their other half and that ‘talking it through’ is not going to be a casual conversation but rather a full on discussion of pro’s and con’s.

Whilst you can’t be in that conversation if you know about their situation you can have discussed things with the candidate (and even the partner in some situations) prior to the day they talk about the offer. Which means you can set things up positively to hopefully influence the outcome of the discussion.

Maintain regular contact

The quality of your relationship is going to be enhanced when you make regular contact with the candidate. Too many consultants wait until the back end of the recruitment process before doing this. Cultivate the habit of communicating with your active candidates once a week (at least).

And by active candidates I am meaning any candidate who is actively involved in a recruitment process with a client of yours – in other words – any candidate who has an interview arranged – whether first, second or later.

Not only will you establish better relations with that specific candidate but in addition you are much more likely to spot any change of heart or weakening of interest in the candidate when you have been in regular contact rather than when you contact them sporadically.

The earlier you are warned the sooner you can do something to fix the situation – whether that is bringing in another candidate or re-igniting the enthusiasm of the first one!

Give them free advice

You have a candidate on one side, a client on the other and you, the recruitment professional are in the middle. You are in an  ideal situation to offer recruitment, interview and CV advice to both parties. For the purposes of this article let’s focus on candidates – … what could you offer them free advice on?

Well it’s obvious – their CV, their LinkedIn profile, interview tips, job hunting generally … the list goes on. The real trick when it comes to building rapport with your candidates is to offer them that advice before it benefits you.

In other words when you first speak with a candidate and you can see that their CV could do with a bit of a reformat then tell them at the time – whether or not you are going to put them forward to an interview.

That way you are selflessly helping them and if you then subsequently do need to submit their CV they will remember you as the person who helped them before. (And they will remember because you are going to ask them for that new well formatted CV!)

In Summary

Now the above tips are fairly easy to understand and I would wager that most, if not all, recruiters will know to apply them but it’s actually doing it that I think is the issue. What all of the above techniques have in common is that they take time. But I think that it’s time well spent.

Time spent cultivating stronger relations with candidates earlier on will save you time having to find replacement candidates when the unengaged ones slip through your fingers later on!

More Recruitment Advice Next Week

That’s all the Lessons from the Wolf Pack this week – tune in next Wednesday for more recruitment advice or view the archives for more recruitmentadvice.

And remember if you’re looking for recruitment training or recruitment coaching for yourself or your team give Edenchanges a ring or drop us an email today.

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE – If you’ve liked this article then you might like to subscribe to emailed updates (it’s free) – simply add your email address into the box on the right of your screen.

Also comments, debate and discussion are always welcome. Share your views below!

Until next time; be successful!

Stephen Hart
Development Specialist,
Image credit: Created by Edenchanges from artwork by Gem Hart who was recently made redundant due to the collapse of a company. She is looking for work and can be contacted via the above link.


Motivational Monday #80 Clay Diamonds

Clay Diamonds

Motivational Monday #80 Clay Diamonds

“Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart bigger”

Ben Okri

There are few absolute constants in life but one of my personal ones is that every time I have ever had to fill in a form that lists ‘hobbies and interests’ I have put ‘Reading’ down.  And that hasn’t been out of habit but rather for a genuine love of written literature.

Since I can remember, stories of every kind have formed a backdrop to my actual life. Sure I’ve gone through phases preferring one medium over another – novels, short stories, comics, magazines etc., but there has never been a time when I haven’t been reading something.

My fiction reading has slipped a little over the last few years with a lot of my reading time being taken up with personal and business development material. I recently came across an interesting piece by Tom Peters, the business management guru, who made the point that non-fiction ‘text books’ only contain what people think at the moment. If you want the real ideas then you should read fiction.

I think both are important but where fiction can win out is that the ideas contained in it can be expressed in a way that grabs your attention and stays memorable long after the specifics have faded away.

The Pew Research Centre conducted and published a survey in 2014 that found that almost a quarter of American adults hadn’t read a single book last year and that the average across the country was five books a year – less than one every two months!

Now if you’re looking to be successful in your field of business I’m thinking that by reading something, anything, you immediately put yourself ahead of almost a quarter of your competition. If you are the one reading then you’re the one learning new things, getting new ideas and frankly you’re the one feeding your brain!

If the argument from the early computer days stands – Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO) then nothing in must surely mean … well, nothing out!

So why not take a quantum leap past your peers by cracking open a book or powering up a Kindle?

And whilst we are talking about all this let me share an experience I once had.

A long time ago I read a novel which had a scene in it where two people were talking. One character was complaining because they felt they needed a lot of resources and help that they didn’t have. Their friend who was listening to this, and getting a little fed up, told a story.

The outline of the story, as best as I can remember it, was that there were two poor families years ago. They lived in a mining village and scrapped out a living digging for precious metals in the mines and trying to raise some meagre crops in the local fields. One Christmas the first family gave the second family a gift of a clay vase whilst the second family had put together a very precious food bundle of the finest meats available carefully seasoned to perfection.

Both families expressed gratitude publically although the family who received the vase were privately underwhelmed. It was a fairly crude looking vase and they stuck it on their mantelpiece as far to the back as manners would allow.

Over the years other gifts were exchanged and the families both continued to struggle to get by. The vase meanwhile had moved further and further back on the mantelpiece until eventually it ended up in a box in the back of a cupboard.

Time moved on and the first family achieved a level of success through their hard work and constant effort. The second family struggled however and they began to become bitter of their friend’s success. One day the second family confronted the first and demanded to know why the first family hadn’t helped them more.

The first family were a little surprised and explained that they’d given all the help they could many years ago. The second family wanted to know what they meant and they referred to the clay vase.

The question of ‘what value does a clay vase have?’ came back angrily, to which the first family reacted by urging the second family to examine it more carefully.

In angry confusion the vase was dug out of the box from the back of the cupboard and for the first time since they owned it the second family looked it over carefully. Inside the clay vase stuck into the bottom were three perfect diamonds of significant size. The diamonds had been in the vase since the gift was given and were the real gift.

I don’t know about you but what I’ve taken from that story, and it’s remained with me for years, is the idea of ‘clay diamonds’ and of looking through what I have first before I get something new.

I read that story so long ago that both the author and the book I read it in have faded from my mind. The lesson has stuck with me however and that’s the power of fiction.

So I don’t know what books you have that you might want to dip into to advance yourself in life but I bet some of them are already on your book shelves!

 SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE – If you’ve liked this article then you might like to subscribe to emailed updates (it’s free) – simply add your email address into the box on the right of your screen

Until next time, be successful!

Stephen Hart

Development Specialist,

How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 08 HR: A Recruiter’s Friend or Foe

HR and a recruiter fighting

How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 08

HR: A Recruiter’s Friend or Foe?

Traditionally in the recruitment industry there has been a reluctance to approach HR. Indeed many recruiters start their time in the industry being specifically trained and instructed to avoid HR.

And the problem is that when something like that gets repeated over and over it tends to get exaggerated. The repetition of the instruction builds the negativity. HR go from people to avoid where possible to people to guard against at all costs in case they steal your deals right off your table!

In turn HR, having been avoided and shunned by recruiters for years, have grown to be mistrusting and doubtful of recruiters.

In essence we’ve had our very own little cold war whilst the rest of the business world has carried on regardless!

Personally I think it’s time we all took a deep breath and a real look at the actual situation.

Before I give you an opinion let me give you some facts.

Executives Online ran a survey in 2012 with over 1200 companies and collated some very interesting results:

They identified that HR determine the recruitment process in 47% of all companies.

Further that number rises to 67% in companies with over 5000 people.

So, pretty much a good half of the time, a recruiter can expect HR to officially be the people making the recruitment process decisions.

Now in my opinion those stats alone mean that HR should be approached and spoken with.

Based on my own experiences, both as a recruiter and as a development specialist, I feel that HR can absolutely be your best friends and it’s entirely possible to have profitable, long term business relationships with HR professionals.

I’ve made placements as a recruiter with and through HR and I’ve arranged many training and coaching sessions again with HR being my main contact.

I think that a modern recruiter, rather than shunning HR, should endeavour to cultivate a practical relationship. And by that I mean a relationship where the recruiter doesn’t attempt to cut out HR and HR doesn’t attempt to block the recruiter.

Like all good relationships a little give and take is necessary. Recruiters should have direct line access to managers to ensure that they can take the full job and person details from the person that the new hire will actual work for.

A good recruiter asking the right questions of a line manager can pinpoint the personal quirks and specific job requirements to a finer level than when speaking with HR. This isn’t a negative reflection on HR simply a reflection of the fact that they are departmentally removed from the hire.

Similarly it is hugely helpful if feedback can be taken directly from line managers – whether that is in respect to submitted CV’s, candidate profiles or after interviews. Getting the story of what happened in a meeting is always going to be better first hand than from someone who wasn’t there!

That’s the type of access that recruiters need to do their job and should reasonably ask for when dealing with HR.

In turn the recruiter should accept that HR have a part to play, will co-ordinate interviews and the recruitment process generally as well as very likely negotiating rates.

Strong relations are based on trust and one of the things that helps build trust is transparency. Recruiters should approach HR with a constructive mind set and positively present themselves and their services. When discussing the recruitment process recruiters should clearly state the kind of access they would like and explain how they work.

Surprises in recruitment are seldom positive and few HR departments are going to warm to recruiters who talk to them one day and then go and talk to the line manager the next without warning HR first.

Explain at the outset how you, as a professional recruiter, want to work, why you want to work that way i.e. the benefits for both parties, and be clear that you understand that ultimately decisions will be made, or at least processed, through HR.

On the other side of the fence HR departments often work within a more structured and formal model than recruiters and it’s fair to expect that HR will have certain procedures and ways of doing things or processing applications. The best thing a recruiter can do is seek to understand how and why the HR department works as it does.

As to whom you should approach first in a company to identify if there are recruitment needs, then I do hold to the traditional recruitment method of approaching the most senior relevant decision maker and working from there. If they instruct you to go via HR then establish a relationship with the decision maker and then go have the conversation with HR.

As pointed out by the survey above, HR very often determine the process, so a smart recruiter anticipates this and works with HR to establish the right kind of relationship.

I genuinely believe that if the recruiter and HR can work together then it increases the chances of a successful hire which is beneficial to everyone.

Always interested to know what other people think so feel free to comment below.

Expanded Material

This topic will be expanded upon in the new subscription only podcast that will be coming out from Edenchanges shortly, aimed at all career minded recruitment professionals.

Until next time; be successful! 

Stephen Hart
Development Specialist,


Motivational Monday #79 Four Tips on Gaining a New Perspective


Motivational Monday #79 Four Tips on Gaining a New Perspective

“The world grows dull in our perspective and yet seen again from a new perspective would it not again be filled with wonder?”

Routine is good. It helps you do daily tasks easily, efficiently and with little thought. But the danger with routine is that is can dull our perspective. It can make the world seem a boring place.

So here are four simple and practical ideas for getting a new perspective and bringing back some of the freshness and wonder into your life:

Call Someone

Who do you have in your life that you haven’t spoken to in a while? What friend, relative or acquaintance is still on the list of ‘I must catch up with them soon’? Give them a call. Either this lunch time, or evening put that call in and say ‘Hi, how are you?’ and then really listen to what has been going on in their lives.

Visit Somewhere

Now it might be you have exciting plans for tonight but I bet many people reading this were simply planning to go home and have a regular evening. Well how about instead of that you go somewhere new. Stop at the local library, drive to the nearest park and have a walk or go to the local mall or café. Visit somewhere that you don’t normally go and just see what you find. If you have a partner expecting you home then invite them to wherever it is and have a different sort of evening.

Do Something New

What does your Monday night normally entail – going home, dinner,TV and bed? Mix it up. Do something else. Sure go home at some point and go to bed but the bit before it could change! How about digging out an old hobby, playing a board game, reading a book or doing one of those household or DIY project you’ve been putting off? Or maybe start on that novel you’ve always promised yourself you would write. The evening is full of potential – how will you use it?

Eat Something Different

You don’t have to go out for a five course meal (although you could if you wanted to) but how about swopping out your regular meal for something new. Whether an old favourite you haven’t made in a while or something new from one of those cookbooks gathering dust on the shelves? Or if your partner always cooks, you take a turn – politely ignoring their protests! Explain this is all about making things new and fresher – and that might be through the wonders of a slightly burnt dinner!

Okay, so there are four quick ideas for changing things up a little. It is natural for life to get into a routine but don’t let it pull you down. Cultivate the art of change to help shift your perceptions and create some wonder in your life.

So what do you think? What else could you do to make things different? Do please comment below (and if you tend to read these articles and not comment then now is a great time to do things differently!)

 SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE – If you’ve liked this article then you might like to subscribe to emailed updates (it’s free) – simply add your email address into the box on the right of your screen

Until next time, be successful!

Stephen Hart

Development Specialist,

How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 07 Persuade Me

Wolf cub and wolf

How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 07

Persuade Me

Persuasion has been used for centuries to commit malice, topple governments, make sales and spread ideology. It is possibly the single greatest weapon in your personal armoury.

Please don’t think I’m asking you to topple governments, but persuasion used in sales can win you deals, bring you clients and increase your income.

Bringing things down to earth, think of a situation when you are head-hunting someone. Your first objective on that first call is to get the person talking to you. If they hang up then it’s pretty much game over (although there are things you can do to try to salvage the situation). The point is that if they end the conversation it’s bad news. 

Now your next step after getting them to talk to you is to both identify their skills and experience as well as convincing them that the role you have is potentially their next career move.

And that, if you boil it right down, comes down to persuasion.

Think of it like this… when you persuade the person that you are worth talking to then you have a chance to persuade them that the opportunity is worth considering.

So to become an outstanding head-hunter you need to master those two moments of persuasion.

And that carries on throughout the rest of the recruitment process. From the start – such as getting a client to agree to use your services, right through to persuading a candidate to accept the offer that has been made.

It is easy to make a two minute call to a candidate and race through the topic you want to talk about but it’s another thing entirely to have that conversation with them and persuade them to actually follow your advice!

The real art in persuasive communication comes from skilful verbal word play and intelligent listening. It’s about the ebb and flow of a person’s opinions and using the right words at the right time to encourage them to  say ‘yes’ to what you want them to do.

That takes more effort, more thought and more preparation but the results will speak for themselves. Imagine all your candidates closing their interviewers down at the end of the interviews or all your clients accepting your full short list of candidates every time – surely goals worth striving for!

I mentioned headhunting at the start and let me return to that to outline one specific area where I am seeing recruiters commonly missing their persuasive opportunity.

Pretty woman on her mobile phone

I know many recruiters find possible head-hunt targets on LinkedIn and making their first approach via a message through LinkedIn. If that’s what you are doing then let me urge you to try something different because I don’t believe that is not the most persuasive method of reaching out to a new contact.

Instead of sending a message, make that introductory contact on the phone. Persuade them that you are someone they should speak to, even if just for a few moments, and then find out more about them by asking questions about their job, experience and very importantly aspirations. Then present what you have in the way to which they will respond well based on what they have just told you.

That isn’t something you can do by an email or LinkedIn message. It’s a pure moment of persuasive communication that will most likely ebb and flow between resistance and acceptance on the part of the person you are talking to.

And head-hunting is just one example of this. More and more I see people seeking to persuade via written message of some sort. The fact of the matter is that in almost all instances it’s a lot less effective than speaking to them.

Expanded Material

Head-hunting and persuasive communication will certainly feature in the new subscription-only podcast that will be coming out from Edenchanges shortly, aimed at all career minded recruiters.

Until next time; be persuasive! 

Stephen Hart

Development Specialist,