Hi Danny,

What is the ultimate key to success in this industry? I.E. what are the main bullet points to being successful and a top biller in this industry? Some guidelines to follow if you will. I have no problem doing the work. I have organization. I have motivation. I have the phone time. I have the send outs and the resumes. What will set me apart from the pack?

Danny’s response,

It seems to me the most pragmatic way of answering your question is also the most revealing…what traits do I look for when I hire recruiters? If you know what I’m trying to measure, you can extract what is required to be a big biller. (Let’s define a big biller as 500K or more in direct hire revenues each year. I have mentoring students doing 3-4 times that amount.)

Let’s start with what I actually test for. We use two tests, one to test intelligence, and one to test your natural level of salesmanship. So there you have it, you need to be not just smart but quick smart. The biz moves fast. You are on a call with one intention and something the client/candidate says changes the call’s purpose entirely. You need to be able to recognize, adapt and then execute. If you don’t have the grey matter, no amount of “motivation” or “good intentions” will help. (I’m not being an education snob here, many of the best recruiters and smartest people I know never went to college.) I ignore your degree, except to the degree it tells me you finish what you start. You also need to be a person who influences naturally. Simply put, you must have a need to control your destiny, a deep desire to get things done, and done your way. There a lot of recruiters who think they are naturals for sales, but what they really mean is they are charming, or socially extroverted, good at getting people to like them…but they are not closers. They feel they don’t have the right to bother people or recommend a course of action. Give me an introverted control freak all day long!

And then I want to know about your failures. The times you lost. Jobs, relationships, I want to hear how it got bad, what you did to try and save it, how you grieved, and then, most importantly, how long did it take you to bounce back. This is not prurient interest on my part. But I know the business is a roller coaster ride and your character isn’t revealed when you’re up, it is revealed when you are crashing. Placing people provides a dopamine fix unmatched in sales, but because they are people, you will feel a level of pain and betrayal also unmatched. So do you need to mope? Feel sorry for yourself? Take time off? Nothing wrong with that, it just means I can’t have you here. We take our hits, and come up swinging.

As to what I have noticed among the elite recruiters I have been so honored to be around for decades?

  1. They show up every day.
  2. They don’t fake it. They work.
  3. They are committed.
  4. They are afraid but act in the face of fear.
  5. They accept no excuses, from themselves or others.
  6. They have mastered basic recruiting techniques. They are students of the craft.
  7. They are not too proud to ask for help, nor too self-absorbed to offer it to others in need.
  8. They cannot be distracted.
  9. They can defer gratification and stick to process.
  10. They can work and produce without inspiration, and in any mood.
  11. They laugh every day at the absurdities of the business yet they take it seriously. Dead serious.

I hope you’re one of us!