How and Why to Forget All Your Recruiting Problems

Nov 19, 2014
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

stressed businesswoman looks laptop

Believe it or not, there are recruiters who are able to remember anything and everything without the help of their laptop, smartphone, or ATS. Facts regarding dates of employment, professional certifications, places candidates are willing to relocate, when bonuses are paid at certain companies, are all recollected with ease. Recruiters who can do this often remind of dime store magicians performing parlor tricks. You see, I tend to be forgetful recruiter. If you bump into me at the coffee machine, do not start asking me questions about the status of a candidate I submitted to some position weeks ago. And definitely do not ask me specific questions like what their salary expectations are, when their current project ends, or whether or not they have five years of experience in bee keeping. I won’t remember. Well, maybe I’ll remember the bee keeping, because that’s just bizarre.

If I have my laptop with me, and the ATS is functioning properly, you can ask me anything. If I don’t have my laptop, please don’t ask me about hiring managers, candidates, or job requirements. Desk related questions should be asked at my desk, because I’m not one of those aforementioned recruiters who can remember people, places, and things down to the smallest detail on command. There once was a time when I dreamed of having such mental acuity, but not anymore. Over the years I’ve realized that in this profession, more important than the ability to remember is the ability to forget. For your health, for your success, and for your overall mental well-being, I suggest giving a little forgetfulness a try.

Check Baggage at the Door

I’m not suggesting you space out on how to do your job. I’m not referring to that kind of forgetting. However, I’m advising you manage your emotions during the search. As a new assignment begins, let go of memories attached to previous failed to fill scenarios, candidate behaviors, and hiring manager decisions. Like a Zen master, occupy the present and embrace the task at hand with equanimity. Be free from being influenced by what happened in the past or what may take place in the future. Being apprehensive because similar positions have been historically challenging to fill, then creating anxiety around conversations that may or may not occur with hiring managers down the road, will do nothing to improve your circumstances. Stressing out will do more harm than good. Conversely, approaching your quest for talent with a calm state of mind will exponentially increase your likelihood of success. As an added bonus: it might even lower your blood pressure.


By putting aside feelings associated with the past and future we can focus on the here and now. Successful hires arise from connecting with the right candidate at the right time. Often times many frogs must be kissed before a prince, or a princess, is found. In order to find the candidates who will say “yes” to our proposed job opportunity we may need to first interact with the people who will tell us “no.” Panicking about the process, or being ruled by self-doubt, will add no horsepower to the work that needs to be done. Make peace with the fact that you will have to look underneath an unspecified amount of stones before you find who you’re looking for, but be simultaneously confident that by putting one foot in front of the other you will eventually discover the treasure you seek. Avoid the temptation to multitask. Focus on completing one duty at a time. Whether it be pulling resumes from job boards, searching the web for names of potential candidates, tracking down contact information, making cold calls, handling phone screens, or checking references, dedicate 100% of your concentration to whatever step is currently in play. Strong recruiters can perform these aspects of their job without fretting about what took place yesterday or what is going to happen tomorrow. They focus on the task at hand and commit to doing it to the best of their ability, without being overly attached to the outcome, largely in part because they feel in their hearts that the outcome will be a good one.

The Art of Happiness

When passion merges with a profession it is a beautiful thing. I can honestly say that I am enamored with sourcing and recruiting. For me, the thrill of the hunt is invigorating. I truly find enjoyment in the process of talent acquisition. If this doesn’t ring true for you I encourage you to find a career path that makes you feel this way. True happiness is derived from absolute acceptance of the here and now, the present moment. It’s not contingent on something happening at some other time. Finding pleasure in the tasks involved with hiring is the key to happiness in this industry, and the key to success. Figuring out which companies employ professionals with the skills clients are looking for, composing carefully crafted InMails and emails, navigating gatekeepers, building relationships over the phone and in person, learning where a person is now in their career and where they want to be in 3 or 5 years, these are all things that give great recruiters immense satisfaction. They are artists executing the art of recruiting, and a job well done is found to be rewarding and pleasurable.

Controlling the Chaos

Can you imagine how your life would be if you could remember everything? It might sound like a novel ability at first, but really think about what this would mean. You wouldn’t be able to hold conversations or listen to stories. Every person, place, or thing mentioned to you would trigger memories of other people, places, and things. Thoughts would bloom across the surface of your mental landscape like out of control algae and the ability to think coherently would be choked in a sea of chaos. Our ability to remember aspects of our profession is paramount to our success, but our ability to forget holds just as much merit. Toxic emotions will wreak havoc on your search for top candidates. Learn to ignore the negative chatter in your mind regarding why a particular position is impossible to fill and give yourself 100% to the process of finding the right person for the job. Even if today is not an absolute success, if you perform to the best of your ability you can go home with your head held high and start again fresh tomorrow.

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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