What’s the most important activities I should do and track, metrics-wise, to create the maximum financial short- and long-term success? Doreen, Austin, TX

Coach Mike: There are several schools of thought on what you need to track and, again, this is just my opinion. The main things I track are: marketing presentations or MP’s. An MP is any conversation – not an email exchange – a physical conversation with a prospect or an existing client qualifies. So, if I am following up with you and you are a client and I have some follow-up questions on the job order I took yesterday, it doesn’t count twice. It counts once. It counted yesterday as an MP when you started taking the job order. If I have not made a placement with you in a month or tow months and I am following up to identify fi there is any other business opportunities with you, then yes, it counts again as an MP. Use the same logic on the recruit side. It requires a physical conversation, not an email exchange. I don’t care if you got an in-mail back that says “No, not interested.” I don’t count it.

Next we count submittals. How many people are you actually submitting on an existing opening (JO)? Next, the other metric I track is, obviously, job orders/open assignments. I count them only when I get the fee agreement signed. Last, but not least, we count first-time interviews – whether they’re on the phone or face-to-face. What you are going to find quickly is that recruit presentations lead to first-time interviews. Obviously, marketing presentations lead to submittals, which lead to first time interviews.

The biggest mistake I see with recruiters even if they have been in the business 20 to 30 years or more, is that they focus on placements, on closing deals. You can’t control a placement you can only influence them.

The ONE thing you can control is your daily activity. Depending on your desk specialty it could take anywhere from 10-30 recruit presentations (RP’s) to get one person out on an interview. It could take anywhere from – and in this economy, I am seeing this most of the time – ¬†four to ten first-time interviews to make a placement. So, if you know you want to make a placement a month and let’s assume you are getting quoted an average fee of about $20,000, you need to arrange eight or nine first-time interviews a month. Obviously, if you want to make two placements a month you need to arrange 10-18 interviews a month.

If you manage that activity consistently every week/month you will eventually make placements even if you blank your billings this month and next month. What could happen is that 90 days from now and you found a way to arrange 8 interviews a month, times three months equals 24 interviews you arranged while billing nothing. Based on these metrics you will be “due” for three placements.

I have tracked this for years. I have never seen people that arrange interviews eventually not make placements equal to their historic ratio of first-time interviews to placements. Now, you can arrange eight this month and make one placement this month. You can arrange eight next month and make one next month, but the biggest mistake when I ask people what their metrics are and the say “Well, you know, I am not quite sure.” Again, these are often recruiters that have been in business a long time and it is one of the reasons why I said we are going to talk about metrics, one of the reasons you are plateauing is because you are probably going out there and you are looking and you are thinking: “Johnny’s on a final interview and that fee will be $22,000-24,000, depending on the salary they bring him on. Mary, she’s doing great; she’s in love with the opportunity and that is a $25,000 potential fee. I got Sally interviewing over here – she’s going to a second and even or just going a first and that is could be…” and you are starting to think you have $50,000; $60,000; $70,000 in billing and then what happens? Sally doesn’t go to the second, Mary takes a counter-offer, if she’s made the offer and on the other opening the president’s old frat buddy walks in at the last minute and takes the job. So, where you thought you had anywhere from $50,000-75,000 in revenue coming in, you now have zero and you are devastated.

Even when you track metrics the right way, you should be devastated when deals blow up. With me the mourning periods of those lost deals just got shorter. If I knew that those things had occurred, those three terrible events, and I had not made a placement in two or three months, but in that period of time I had arranged 25 to 30 interviews, I knew in my heart-of-hearts all I had to do was keep working the business and the placement would follow. In most cases you will have a $50,000-75,000 month very shortly. I have seen it again and again and again in my firm and now with my recruiting firm owner clients. Let me be crystal clear here. I have never seen it not happen. I have never seen anyone get 25, 30, 35, or 40 interviews and keep going and not have the business catch up with them with the equivalent number of placements. Never!!!

When I was recruiting on a desk the worst I ever did was 52 or 53 first-time interviews without a placement. This was over several months and I was semi-suicidal because every deal just kept blowing up. If you have been in the business long enough time, you know there are periods of time where everything you touch turns to gold and there are periods of time where everything you touch turn to doo-doo. But the good news about this business for those of you who don’t buy into metrics yet, is that if you are arranging interviews every week, you can go home, you can look at your partner, significant other, husband, wife, whomever, and say, even if you had no placements, even if you had a deal blow up and say, “I had a good week.” You can say this as long as you are arranging first-time interview every week.