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March 18, 2004
THREE Seconds and You're DEAD!
by Frank Risalvato, CPC, Founder

One of the phrases frequently being used by NASA (as I write this) has been "Six seconds of Hell" as they described the numerous highly technical processes the Mars Lander had to perform, in rapid succession, during the last six seconds of entry. I kept hearing over and over "Six Seconds Of Hell," as I watched the various footage.

This made me think how similar the staffing and recruiting business is. In the staffing and executive search industry we frequently experience what I refer to as our own "Six Seconds Of Hell".

So when exactly does the six most precious critical seconds in recruiting occur? Well, there are two instances actually; both requiring only three seconds each. This equals the same six seconds the Mars Rovers experienced.
The two critical moments are:

  1. When a Client Hiring Authority asks "What is Your Fee?"
  2. When a Client Hiring Authority asks "What is your Specialty?"

Pause a second or two longer than what the client had in mind when asked either of these questions, or use a tone of voice or inflection that indicates any hint of your lacking confidence or conviction or mention an industry the client did not want to hear and simply put: YOU ARE DEAD (at least your potential business venture is)!

For the purposes of this article we will examine the latter issue:
The "What is Your Specialty?" obstacle/objection/challenge.

During these last few years since post September eleventh, the single most often asked question directed to me by recruiters and firm owners nationally was something along the lines of the following:

"Frank I've been an I.T. Recruiter for (pick any number of years) and now no one is hiring. They keep telling me 'We're not using I.T. Recruiters any more'. What do I do?"

Whether your niche is Information Technology or any other discipline, the truth is, at one point or another, all industries and disciplines pause for "a breather", just like the stock market "corrects itself" after it feels it has gained too rapidly.

My answer to the above dilemma is quite simple actually. And the reply I have provided to scores of recruiters in such a predicament has been consistent. That is:

  • Get rid of adjective preceding "Recruiter" and you have eliminated most of the problem.

When I founded IRES, Inc. in 1991, I knew there would be cycles in the years ahead as there were during the many years I practiced recruiting previously. Some cycles are industry-wide as this last one while other "mini-cycles" have their own life span within the greater economic cycle.

For this reason you will NEVER see any limiting adjective associated with the term "Recruiter" on any of our Manager's or recruiter's business cards. What you will see are terms such as "Regional Recruiting Manager" or "Northeastern Recruiting Manager", etc; but nothing that would pigeon hole anyone into a niche.

It's hard enough veering one's course toward a different discipline; that task is compounded exponentially when you must change business cards, listings on a web site, and re-program the position you have embedded into your client's mind after years of being associated as a niche specialist.

In sum, the most powerful tool I have as a recruiter is the ability to SWITCH both industries and disciplines. Yet I have observed scores of recruiters nationally not taking advantage of this critical ability and power base we possess.

When I quit my corporate career in the nineteen-eighties, it was not only to become a recruiter but to enter into an industry where I could switch from a dying or decaying clientele on the dime and re-direct my services to those prospering. Overall, it is this ability we possess that makes our career MUCH MORE STABLE than working at a conventional corporate job.

So next time someone asks you:

  • QUESTION: "What is your specialty?"
Hopefully you will have the correct answer quickly at hand:
  • ANSWER: "I'm a recruiter … what is it that you'd like us to help you with?"
Whatever the reply THIS is your specialty! After all, you are a recruiter and ought to be able to recruit for anything.

Answer this question incorrectly and just as the British Beagle, you may become part of the dusty Martian landscape the twin rovers will now be analyzing.


  About the Author
Frank Risalvato, CPC, Founder of IRES, Inc.

Frank founded IRES, Inc. in 1991 after being a top producer for two firms prior. The firm has expanded continuously over the years introducing multiple areas of specialization in numerous industries and currently has offices in three states. Frank’s Recruiter Training Manual is among the most popular in the industry. It is available by emailing frankr@iresinc.com


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