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Who Do You Know? The Relying on the Kindness of Strangers Approach

By Jonathan Bogush (@jonathanbti), Director of Connectivity Practice

There aren’t many people in the world who plan on becoming a recruiter. There is really no education or career path that is focused on preparing you for the trade of technical recruiting and, to be honest, I didn’t understand that recruiters existed until after completing my undergraduate degree. Being an English Literature / Creative writing double major who wanted to create and manage creative goods, I certainly couldn’t have predicted that I would be working for a top-flight recruiting agency essentially leading my own practice and developing my own desk now in my mid-30s.

Every day as a technical recruiter is different, and how could one not enjoy something that always keeps you guessing? I can understand that this type of unpredictability isn’t for everyone. For me, it’s the unpredictability and the inherent challenges that arise during the pursuit of “A” players for my clients that keeps me coming back to my desk everyday hungry to improve my recruiting skills and tackle the next search.

DiscoveryThere is one story from my desk that really sticks out for me as an example of the unpredictability of recruiting and more importantly the unpredictability of receiving kindness from complete strangers that I called to naively ask “who do you know”. I was working for a European based client that was attempting to evangelize their high-end linear optical sensing products throughout the Oil/Gas and Utility verticals here in the US. This client, while very well known throughout Europe and the Middle East, didn’t really have much of presence in the states in customer base or channel partners and, on top of that, the linear optical sensing systems they made were relatively new technologies to the world which required me to have a deep technical understanding of their potential applications in the market place. Obviously – learning about these things quickly would allow me to effectively communicate to potential “A” players why they should consider working for this company as a Business Development Manager.

Now, I am not the most technically inclined person and, in addition, I had no idea about the competitive landscape this client was involved in. I literally had to start this search from scratch essentially practicing the tried and true “fake it ’til you make it” approach that I am sure more recruiters use than they are willing to admit. To start the search, I had to do a ton of research first on the technology and then on the existing manufacturers that made similar products. What I found was that this technology was usually created and managed by small product development incubator groups within massive oil field services firms or high-end optics/photonics technology developers. Now, if you’ve been a recruiter you know, finding the relevant 3 to 4 people to call within a 15,000 person organization can be a trying task. It requires a lot of trial and error, a ton of phone calls that result in half-hearted voicemails, and constantly asking complete strangers “who do you know” that could help me.

my-excited-faceBut that’s the other part of recruiting that can be not only career affirming but in many ways life affirming – the “relying on the kindness of strangers approach”. On this particular search, I must have asked 4- 5 dozen people “who do you know” and I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of quality referrals I received to individuals who were absolute “A” players that were passively looking for their next great career opportunity. Within due time I was able to convert several of these individuals into interested candidates and was able to not only impress my client with our “finds” but also help one of the candidates land the job and in part fulfill a life-long dream of his to move from the Engineering / Product Development side of linear optical sensing to the Business Development side of things.

Long story short, there are many things that you learn as you step into the career of recruiting. Many of those lessons learned have more to do with the art of building relationships and having complete strangers that you call think outside of themselves and help answer the question of “who do you know”.

Thanks for the support.  I welcome your feedback as we continue to make an impact in our local community and throughout the world.  You can find me on LinkedIn and at Twitter you can find me at @jonathanbti.  Also, you can learn more about TYGES at, on Twitter @TYGESInt, or here on our blog.

Our mission is simple:

We’re here to make good things happen to other people.


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Everything Must Change: Go Do Something Else

By Scott Love

From my extensive experience in coaching and consulting to recruiters for the past fourteen years, I firmly believe that at least eighty percent of those who work in our profession will never reach their full potential.

If you are not committed to reaching your peak performance level, you might as well do something that is much easier, like brain surgery. I’m serious when I say that there are easier sales jobs out there. Do yourself a favor and look into them if you are not willing to face your fears or exert some sweat equity into using your phone. Recruiting is the purest form of sales. It’s a double sell and you must master it. If you master less than 90 percent of it (including the process, your strategy, how you think, how you engage others, and how you develop a brand that draws people to you), then you still get an F. In this business, the grade you get in recruiting is either A or F. There is no B, C or D.

My opinions are just my opinions, but keep in mind that I have met literally thousands of recruiters, have been invited to train and consult in dozens of search firm and staffing agency offices and have delivered presentations for nearly every trade association in our industry. There are five variables that I have observed with my own eyes in how recruiters perform that cause me to feel this way.

cerem_4_committment_2 Lack of commitment to improving. I have seen recruiters attend my seminars where I have delivered the secrets to mega-success and still they do not put the effort into improving. I can’t say why people don’t work harder or don’t face their fears. Maybe that’s just the way it is, the old 80/20 rule. Maybe people have to go through a major life tragedy or a spiritual awakening before they realize that they really are special, that they can have peer-level relationships with CEO’s, that they really can make a big difference in the lives of others just by reaching out to them. Why would you not want more of this? Do you leave work at 4:59? Do you refuse to spend your own time and your own money on reading and investing in your own training? If your manager is the only one who is paying for your training, then I already know how your career is going to end up: miserable. Either change or quit now and save yourself the expensive heartache of finally figuring this all out but twenty years later.

Failure to execute. The magic is on the phone. Not facebook or twitter or on the job boards. The job boards make it easy for you to reach out to those candidates that everyone else is talking to, including your clients. (NOTE: the biggest exception to this is contract staffing such as IT consulting). For direct hire placement and executive search, you add zero value when you bring a person that your client can access on their own. If you haven’t figured this out yet, then you really are in the wrong business and you might be better suited to work in Human Resources. Social media is a great way to reach thousands of people. But consider this: if one person in a room filled with 100 other people is the only one talking, everyone can hear him. But what if all 100 of them are talking at the same time? It’s a loud and crowded social media market out there and you need to differentiate yourself with some good old-fashioned effective phone skills. The phone brings with it an emotional context to the relationship and that is the secret to recruiting.
failure-and-successFear of failure. Fail. It’s okay. It’s okay to fail. Pick up the phone and fail. Make lots of mistakes. Embarrass yourself with high level candidates and prospective clients. Screw up in the meeting. Be sloppy. Just do something. This is how you build your expertise of recruiting and also your domain knowledge of your niche. Be bold and fearless and act as if you belong there, and everyone will believe that you do. Muffle that inner critic that says you are just an imposter because in a few weeks that critic will be wrong once you figure out what your clients are saying, and then it will get exciting when you move past the “matching the big words” phase. The experiential base you develop can only come from time spent talking to people. Remember this: failure is only feedback in disguise.

Too aggressive with sales techniques. Welcome to the world of the soft sell. The overly aggressive style of sales training in our business does not work anymore. In fact, it never did. Buying resistance is at an all time high. You are recruiting in a time when good candidates receive at least one call a day from a recruiter. Turn that to your advantage. What that means is that each month they get about 19 bad calls. Make yours the one that stands out. This can only help you. The candidates who are really open will tell the other recruiters that they are happy. But if you approach them in the way that I have always taught people to do it, with a servant approach and a leadership model based on authority, core values, and effective word tracks, then you will be amazed at how quickly they say “yes” to you when they are telling everyone else “no.” Be aggressive with your time management, not with people.

A sense of urgency. My most recent podcast discusses how to build a sense of urgency. You can download it from itunes or my website, but listen to it because I share with you how you can do this. It’s a free audio. I want you to get in the habit of spending your down time into money-making time. Download my free podcasts and listen to them on your drive to work or on the metro or at the gym. I want you to develop the habit of putting knowledge in your brain that will help you reach success and I want this to be a daily diet for you.

I believe that those who want to win the most will be the ones who win. It has more to do with burning desire than natural talent. Don’t be the kind of person that has to be managed. Take ownership of your success. Realize that you are personally responsible for everything that happens to you and this will be your first step on your journey to a career filled with excitement, financial reward and personal fulfillment. Don’t quit the business if you are willing to try to change. Take that first step and stay with it, because if you do, then congratulate yourself because you have just distinguished yourself as part of that twenty percent who will reach their fullest potential in the business.

Copyright © 2014 Scott Love

Scott Love is a good friend to TYGES and offers recruiters a step-by-step playbook of success and teaches a systems approach to becoming a big biller. Check out his stellar work at

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Their Story, Our Story: Bringing a Father Back to His Children

386720eAs a recruiter, I don’t just match great people to great companies; I work towards realizing the soft triggers an individual seeks in order to make a career change. Building relationships is a key part of this and understanding what really matters to an individual.

I was handed a new search to work by my account executive and I realized how close the role was to Wilmington, NC.  This recalled a phone call I had with a particular individual who’s number one motivator for making a change was location because he wanted to be closer to his young children.  He was a passive candidate and would only make a move when the role, company and location was right.  I knew that my new search was a great match as far the scope of the role was concerned; and that the company culture could be a good fit; but the location was spot on.  So guess who I contact first to share details of the opportunity to see if he would have interest?

I reached out to the individual to share the opportunity.  I told him the main reason I thought of him for this role was because of the proximity of this company to his kids.  He was touched that I actually remembered this and was definitely interested in moving forward with this opportunity. After several rounds of interviews, he was offered the role.  He has thanked me on more than one occasion for remembering the minor detail about how important it was to be closer to his family. Living within a forty-five mile radius of his kids makes all the difference and now he sees his children more than just a couple times a year.  And he is extremely happy in his new role within our client’s organization!

For us recruiting isn’t a transactional business, it is relational. We work hard to listen and protect the relational aspect to recruiting, and I love the fact that every day I can help folks improve their overall happiness and way of life. In this instance I was able to bring a father back into his children’s everyday lives.