The Real Secret to Surviving (and Thriving) as a Full-Desk Recruiter

May 11, 2017

It’s very common to see the staffing industry explode during a period of low unemployment. In particular, the increased number of full-desk recruiters (i.e. someone who is responsible for sourcing both the employers and the candidates they hire).

Having worked in the Silicon Valley during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, I saw first-hand the incredible opportunity a talented recruiter had to build their reputation (and, bank account!), as a full-desk recruiter. But, it’s not a simple job by any stretch...

Finding customers and candidates is no easy task.

As a full-desk recruiter, you not only have to find talented candidates to place in jobs, but you also have to find and build relationships with companies so you have a place to put the talent you source. 

The first question everyone asks themselves when they take on a full-desk role is, “Which should I do first? Find companies who need candidates, or build a talent pool that companies would want to hire?” They quickly learn the answer is, “both.” Time management becomes vitally important.

To succeed as a full-desk recruiter, you need to work smarter AND harder. Self-accountability and the ability to sell are your two biggest skill requirements. If you can’t motivate yourself to connect with lots of people all day long, you won’t survive. Even then, you need a good strategy (and some one-on-one recruiter coaching), to ensure the people you are reaching out to are going to get you to your goal. Which leads to my advice…

Don’t ‘spray & pray.’ Instead, start with a niche.

The best and fastest way to build up your business as a full-desk recruiter is to choose either an industry or skill set you want to recruit for. This helps you focus your time and energy on the companies and candidates that support the niche.

A classic mistake I see rookie full-desk recruiters making is trying to market their services to anyone and everyone. They spread themselves too thin and end up struggling to get any traction with employers and talent. Even worse, they usually are given the ‘impossible-to-fill’ jobs that cause them to waste hours trying to find candidates that simply do not exist. In my day, we used to call them, “bilingual brain surgeons for $10/hour” - which referred to an unrealistic request by an employer.

In the video below, fellow RecruitHUB coach, Ed Nathanson and I discuss in detail how to focus your full-desk recruiting efforts on a niche. 

Plus, here are some additional tips to consider:

1. Do a search of all the companies in your area that have 20-200 employees. Mid-sized companies often don’t bother to hire a full-time recruiter.

2. Study the top industries in your territory. Understanding the concentration of skill sets and talent in your area can help you choose your niche.

3. Make a ‘bullseye list’ of employers you want to place talent at. The best salespeople make a list of companies they want to sell to and then build a strategy to get introduced to people there who can help them get their foot in the door.

4. Leverage your network to help you set up discovery meetings. Tap your friends, family and former colleagues for introductions to employees at companies on your bucket list. Then, invite them to coffee to get their insights on how you might best build a relationship with their employer.

5. Use the ‘9 touch rule’ when prospecting. Giving up at the first sign of rejection is not an option. I was once told it takes a person 9X of interacting with a company, person, or idea for it to take hold in their mind. Which means, you need to keep circling back over time as a way for companies and candidates to finally pay attention to what you are offering.

Finally, remember that anything worthwhile takes time to build. Being a full-desk recruiter can be a very lucrative and rewarding job. But, you have to put in the effort. Reputations among companies and candidates aren’t built overnight. However, the stronger your focus on your niche, the faster you’ll be seen as professional - and the more business you will receive. The best full-desk recruiters eventually get referrals because of their proven track record. You’ll know you’ve made it when great companies and hot talent are coming to YOU!

J.T. O’Donnell is the co-creator of RecruitHUB, where recruiters go for elite-level courses, coaching, and community to improve their skills and abilities. Watch her and fellow RecruitHUB creator, Ed Nathanson, in their new *free* tutorial, “How to Be Your Company’s Recruiting HERO” to learn more about how you can earn the respect of your hiring team!

*Image by clement127

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