The secret to recruitment success – seriously.

I was walking down the street the other day when I ran into an old colleague, an ex-employee actually, from my days as the owner of accounting and finance recruiter, Recruitment Solutions.

We talked for a while, and as we parted she said with a huge smile, ” Still following that old success formula, Greg. It has made me millions!” At first I could not for the life of me work out what she was talking about. But then it slowly came back to me. Years ago I coached all our staff on a very simple but powerful way to keep focussed on the things that drive success in our business. All our managers ran their business to this formula, and it was our foremost diagnostic tool when an individual or a business unit was failing to deliver. I spoke about it at recruitment conferences all over Australia, and indeed many other parts of the world, and it always brought the same response

“So simple… yet so true!”

I went back to my office and dug up the old notes. And there it was. But what struck me was how valid that same little formula is today. No amount of technology has changed the key drivers of success in recruitment and staffing. If you want “fun and money” from this job…and who does not…then this is your holy grail.

So it’s time to dust it off

Success = Activity x Quality x Target Market

I believe that activity is key to the ongoing success of any commercial recruiter. It’s not all about activity, but activity counts. You just have to do a certain amount of ‘stuff’ to get the results you want. Now, those activities might vary a little depending on your sector, your experience, and the depth of your customer relationships, but they are likely to include all the usual suspects such as client visits, client calls and talent interviews. But these days we are going to want to add new activities; networking events, and maybe even tweets and connections, if we have a well-evolved social networking component to our work. The point is I have never seen a successful recruiter who does not consistently churn out activities that drive the outcomes we seek. It just comes with the territory.

But it’s not all about activity is it? In fact too much activity, of the wrong kind, and of inferior quality, will be counter-productive. Hundreds of low quality, ill thought-through cold calls, for example, asking “got any jobs?” is not going to enhance your billings or your reputation. No, the second component of the success formula is quality. We have got to have lots of activity to be successful, but it needs to be activity of the highest quality. And by quality I mean quality through every step of the process. The quality of your advertisement or your head hunt call, the quality of your screening call, the quality of candidate interviewing, the skill with which you take a qualified order, the way you brief your talent prior to interview, your post interview client debrief. It goes on and on, because in fact our job is made up of thousands of tiny little interactions. And our success is driven by the volume of those interactions(activity), but also crucially, the quality of those interactions. And that is where a skilled recruiter will display her well-honed questioning skills, influencing skills, counseling skills, persuasion skills and negotiation skills. That is the quality I am referring to.

So success is about activity, and success is about the quality of that activity. But there is a third leg to the equation. One most recruiters fail to spot. We have to do lots of activity. Yes! We have to maintain high quality. Yes! But we have to do that high quality activity……with the right people!

If you do 15 client visits a week, and the quality of those visits is superb, you can still fail if you are meeting with two- bit companies that have no hiring plans, or if you meet people who are not decision makers. If you conduct the best candidate interviews in recruiting history, and you do 15 such interviews a week, you can still fail if you don’t interview in-demand talent who have the skill-sets your clients will pay for.

And I know what you’re thinking now. You are thinking “but this is so obvious”. I know. Isn’t it just?


In 30 years of coaching recruiters and running teams of recruiters, whenever I have seen someone go off track or a team start to fail, I have always found the answer by applying this formula.

  • Are we doing enough activity?
  • Is that activity of the right quality?
  • Are we doing it with the right people?

It has never let me down. The reason for the failure will be found in one or more of these areas.

And the funny thing is, that the explosion in technology impacting our industry makes applying this formula even more pertinent. We all know people who pump out lots of activity. Check out some recruiters onTwitter for a day if you want a modern example of dubious productivity. But is it quality stuff? Is it targeted to the right audience?

So there it is . The holy grail of how to be great at this job

Activity x quality x target market

Please remember me when it makes you rich and famous



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About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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13 Responses to The secret to recruitment success – seriously.

  1. Stephen Wright September 28, 2009 at 11:22 pm #

    Brilliant – Haven’t heard the ‘fun & money’ tag line in years.

  2. Karen Gordon-Lewis September 29, 2009 at 2:19 pm #

    So true Greg, back to basics … once again!

  3. Recruiting Animal August 11, 2010 at 10:25 pm #

    As I read the long intro to the secret I was reminded of what Sexy Sue Solomon said years ago – and it’s still true.

    Busy business blog readers don’t want to hear the setting in which your ideas took place. Just get to the point.

  4. Scott August 17, 2010 at 1:27 am #

    This can be applied to all sales and marketing activities, not just Recruitment. Excellent mantra and new one to me although the concept as you say is simple. I’ll take that one and run with it thanks Greg!

  5. Diane Skullr November 9, 2010 at 1:51 am #

    Ah, the basic truth in staffing and recruiting. Loved this post. A gentle reminder to stay on track! The Quality of our activity is a must-have to be successful over the long term. It’s the Quality that nets referrals, which are both a positive and a negative. The positive is obvious, the negative is that referrals tend to push us off course, leading to taking short cuts and lose focus. This blog is a great reminder to get back on track.

  6. Bart February 22, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Again, another awesome post Greg. Simple formula that is easy to focus on and follow. I’ve shared this blog with other recruiters who have not yet subscribed. Cheers,

    • Greg Savage February 22, 2012 at 9:44 am #

      Cheers Bart..hope it helps you… and others

  7. Doug Flatimus February 20, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    @ recruiting animal.

    200 words is a ‘long intro’ ?? Here’s to developing concentration and a modicum of focus.

    Nice piece, Greg, and a nice and simple summary. Like all things challenging that are encapsulated in a simple equation, hard work lies at the core of it.

  8. Amanda February 28, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

    My old boss used to call it QDQ – Quantity, Direction & Quality!
    So simple, so true!

  9. Kiran Bhat February 28, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

    Lovely Greg … thanks … will bookmark this piece and will read it regularly to ensure we do not lose our fundamentals … Thanks 🙂


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