So, 2016 is well and truly over. And what an absolutely crazy year it was. BREXIT actually happened. Donald Trump actually got elected to lead the United States of America. Andy Murray won Wimbledon again, and became the world number one tennis player (Tennis is a common theme of my posts. If you haven’t read me compare tennis with recruitment, take a look here). We said tearful goodbyes to a whole host of stars, including David Bowie, Prince, Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman and George Michael.
2016 was also probably the busiest and most full on year I’ve ever had in sales/recruitment, since I first dipped my toe into these waters back in 2010 (gulp), and there’s been a lot of learning. So without further ado, here are 5 things I learned about my industry over the past 12 months. A few of these points you’ve probably heard before, but a little reminder can’t hurt as long as it’s not an overplayed Ariana Grande track on Spotify…
Embrace the silence
This is easily one of the biggest things I learned last year. As a self-confessed chatterbox, I would constantly counter awkward silences with nervous, useless chatter…anything to avoid the dreaded silence that would occur whilst discussing commercial structures with a client that wasn’t buying it (pun intended). Remember it takes two to tango; if they don’t budge, then why should you? After you’ve made your point in a straightforward and clinical fashion, sit back and simply say nothing. You’d be surprised how often it’s not you who eventually gives in.
You may lose in the short term, but win in the long term
Anyone who has worked in recruitment or sales would have encountered this situation plenty of times previously. Should you place the client’s preferred candidate in a role even if you’re not so sure of their credentials? Should you take that retainer for a role that you’re unsure you can actually fill? The answers should be fairly obvious, but it’s incredible what copious amounts of stress and pressure can do a person’s rationale. Stay grounded – if you feel a candidate is unsuitable for a role, or if you genuinely don’t feel you can fulfil a search, be honest and say so. The level of credibility given to you will be invaluable.
Attend networking events, but only if they interest you!
We at MitchelLake Group regularly attend events within our industries, as I’m sure many of you do too. Often, I’ll attend 1-2 events per week. Since most people today don’t answer their phones, we’ve had to find alternative methods to make new connections and build relationships, and networking events is certainly one of them. However, there have been many times I’ve attended an event, interacted with hardly anybody, and spend most of the presentation/talk on my phone surfing Buzzfeed. But I’m at the event, so I’ve made myself feeling better for just attending, right?? Wrong! It’s of no value to me as I’ll learn nothing. Be selective about the events you attend, it goes back to the old rule of quality over quantity. Give yourself a goal before you attend - whether it be to meet 3 new connections, write a short blog based on the event you attend or simply 2 or 3 key learnings you have taken away from the content presented/event itself.
Read, read, read...
I am definitely guilty of intending to further my learning through reading articles and books yet never follow through. They end up sitting in my inbox or in my bookmarks, never to be glanced upon again. While attending events or courses in real time can lead to greater engagement for some, never underestimate the power of a good book. You'll be amazed how easily you can retain this information, and utilize/call upon these learnings in conversations with colleagues, clients, candidates or senior management. I’ve set myself a target of one book a month within my specialist areas across digital & growth marketing, and UX/design. Any articles I come across – I file them away in a weekly folder, allowing myself 30 – 90 mins a week to read and go through them all, so once again I can re-use this information as a starting block when meeting a client or candidate for the first time, or simply re-connecting with an existing one.
And finally, when work gets overwhelming, remember nothing lasts forever
Ever remember that episode of the Simpsons where Homer Simpson quits the nuclear plant to work at the bowling alley, only for him to sheepishly return when Marge becomes pregnant with Maggie? Mr Burns infamously had a sign made in Homer’s office, stating “Don’t Forget, You’re Here Forever”. Obviously, this is not true. There will be plenty of occasions whereby your role will become highly stressful, all-consuming, so increasingly full on that you barely feel that you’re holding onto your last remaining marble. But remember this – life is finite. Nothing lasts forever. It goes back to the old statement of “control what you can control”, do your best and try to enjoy it. A quote that resonates very much with me is “the good old days…are today”.