The Diary of an Agent - Day 3

Well, what a difference a couple of weeks makes. Having been rushed off my feet with roles to work on, and opportunities to close, I'm now staring at the beginning of a new week with very little in the pipeline. This is the busiest, most intense, and ultimately most stressful period for a recruiter – Business Development time!


Arrive in the office on the dot; a good Monday morning feeling. Grab a cup of coffee to try and wash down the weekend - my attention quickly shifts to structuring what will end up being a focused, intensive day.

Devote 10 minutes to splitting my day down into manageable chunks, making time for candidate calls, follow ups, and admin that has to be completed to see any new business activity through. Spend another 10 minutes preparing for our week kick-off meeting.


The team has performed well over the last couple of weeks. However, all of us have a dearth of new work, and whilst that’s positive because it means we’ve closed everything we’re working on, consistency is ultimately the name of the game. It looks like most of our team will be in a similar position for me, looking to fill the top of the sales funnel.


First job of the day is to prepare a cold/warm calling list. This allows me to maintain focus on my business development activity, and when distractions inevitably come knocking, I have a continuous reminder of what I “should” be doing. Almost first thing on a Monday is still the best time to do this, as many clients are either battling with long commutes, are in team meetings, or are generally grumpy at the proposition of another 5 working days before they can relax.


A contractor calls in to say that he’s stuck in traffic, and that he’s going to be late into the office – I do my best to assist, but ultimately all I can do is tell the hiring manager that engaged him. By chance, the hiring manager is in the same queue going in the opposite direction. Smelling the opportunity of a captive audience, I ask the question of how things are going, and get a full, positive review of the contractors activity so far. By chance he was going to call me today anyway (they always say that!) – a new contract has become available, and I’m the first person he’s spoken to about it. I manage to secure myself 24 hours exclusivity on it – with an agreement that he won’t go out to a wider market place, without first reviewing the service providers I suggest. If it goes on as it's started, today could end up being a great day; I wouldn't mind but I’m not even onto my second coffee!


Drop my business development for an hour or so to cover the role – fortunately it’s core stuff that I’ve delivered time and time again for them, so within about 20 minutes I have two people to suggest. Finding a third (just to cover it off) proves more difficult, but I make a decision to wait until lunchtime to find anyone else, and get back to developing more opportunities.


I feel like I’m cheating on my wife. The woman who tells me to leave a message when I ring Orange mobiles that don't pick up has suddenly started to sound more and more attractive, and has other benefits too - non-tariff ones I mean! No arguments back, no wallet raiding, and sometimes, more intelligent-sounding things to say!

In all seriousness, between 11ish and 12 I have dialled in the region of 30 numbers. Of this, I’ve had 1 tangible conversation, and left countless messages. The frustration builds, and by the end of this hour, I am itching to speak to people who will actually answer their phones.


The nicely-wrapped bread rolls prepared by the wife are once again delicious, and having managed to find 2 minutes to eat them, I get back onto the trail of the third candidate for the role picked up earlier. Lunchtime is a great time to do this – much more chance that candidates will be available, and willing, to talk.

Immediately find myself someone who seems OK, but when I speak to him, he has absolutely no communication skills – the company I’m trying to place him with is dynamic, extremely fast paced, often customer-facing, and requires both a thick skin, and a communicative personality – this guy has neither. He may fit the bill on paper, though in reality, the environment would stifle him. I could of course put him forward to 'make the others look good,' but I don’t really think that’s fair on him – or the others - but especially for him, given that he’s not local and would have to travel for 3 hours to get to an interview.

In the next hour or so, I find a couple of people who also seem OK at first, but I then realise it's been a while since we’ve updated with them. I do the norm – leave messages, send emails and leave notes on the system to prompt me as to what I was calling them about when they return the call!

Finally resort to placing an advert on our job boards – this often brings people to me – but can be a bit hit and miss – people have a tendency not to read adverts, simply pick up key words in a job title – this isn’t overly helpful.


Lunch finished, it’s back to the phones for an afternoon of business development activity - I know, don't all rush! My target this afternoon is a good one though - to pull one live contract job, preferably exclusive. I have a couple of lines of enquiry to follow up, and the remainder of the list prepared this morning to complete. After a couple of empty lines, and mobile messages, I get hold of someone I’ve been trying to speak to for ages. He’s just about to kick off a project which will require resources. It’s not immediate, but it all goes into the pot, and when it does come live, I know I’ll be well placed to talk to people about it.

A quick check of my notes reveal more voicemails... 11 in total – I get the feeling people aren’t in the mood to speak to me today (it happens – projects start, things get busy, people don’t want to be badgered – but I’d not be doing my job if I didn’t!)

The next call confirms it – a short, sharp, “not interested” – I don’t mind these, at least I know where I stand!

My total is heading towards 20 connected calls for the day - well by my count (the agency doesn’t monitor it here, but it helps me gauge how far my reach is), including one contract job picked up, and a couple more in the pipeline. As I head towards 5pm, I push myself to just make a couple more.


Bang! Or 'Pop', as it's a real champagne moment! I’m glad I kept pushing – a catch-up call with a previous client reveals a massive CRM system implementation requirement, approved and ready to go. The initial requirement is for a project manager, and then the team that will surround that person. I take the details of the role, and whilst it’s not exclusive, I also manage to get a date in the contacts diary to see him face-to-face to discuss the CVs - I guarantee feedback promptly, and offer the opportunity to look through project plans and critical paths of the wider business. Something in the air this way comes - opportunities!


Eye on the time, but still room to speak to a couple of people that I know who have worked for this client previously, and get the independent view – none of them are interested as the rate is a touch light and they’re on contracts elsewhere. Send email to query whether there’s any flex in the clients budget. There’s a little.


Agree to speak to one contract candidate again at 10 tomorrow morning – he’s been called away. So far he’s the right fit, sounds interested, money is right – just needs to update his CV for me. I’m positive about him, but will still do the due diligence after those others today, which my closer inspection revealed would probably be square pegs in round holes.


Write an advert to compliment my network – get that out to the job boards – should be a decent response from this.


Finally leave the office – its been a long day, not without its challenges – but for now, it’s home to the wife – she’s already called twice to find out where I am.


Contractor who called in this morning calls to thank me for helping him this morning – I start to make like it was all part of the service and plan not to mention that it actually did me some good – then suddenly realise, that he might know someone suitable. He doesn’t at the moment, but will probe his network for me.


Bed time – the end of another challenging yet successful day – more of the same tomorrow and who knows, before long we’ll be back with a healthy-looking pipeline; hopefully!

Wednesday 13th Oct 2010