03 December 2008

Christmas & The New Year: Re-double your focus

This article originally appeared in Issue 12 of InSight
Published 12 December 2007


The Christmas/New Year period was traditionally one of my most enjoyable times when I was a recruitment consultant. But not for the reasons you might suspect. Yes, there were a few good parties around, the water warmed up for more comfortable scuba diving and the surf lifesaving season was well under way, so Narrabeen Beach became my second home for the summer weekends.

The main reason I enjoyed this time of year, was that I saw it as a window of opportunity to gain some valuable ground on my competitors in the Sydney CBD temp accounting market.

A perfect example of wise use of so-called down-time is former Olympic Decathlete Champion, Daley Thompson. He used to lift the intensity of his training in what would be regarded as ‘down times' for his competitors. In world class athletics, where the difference between a gold medal and no medal, can be as little as a few hundredths of a second, Thompson knew that every little bit of extra preparation and training counted for a hell of a lot when it mattered on the track.

In the same vein as Daley Thompson, I saw the traditional Christmas ‘silly season' as a time to ramp up my efforts to create more momentum leading into a new year.

As the jobs weren't rolling in at the same rate as other times of the year, it gave me a golden opportunity to re-double my focus. I always felt greater motivation in putting in this extra effort as I imagined my competitors sitting around whinging about the lack of incoming jobs whilst building a list of excuses why they shouldn't do anything about it but merrily counting down to Christmas Eve drinks.

I have compiled a list of Top 10 Tips of things that used to work for me over the Christmas/New Year period that may also work for you, because if you're not doing it, I'll bet some of your competitors are.

Top 10 Tips for Recruiters in the Count-down to Christmas:

1. Write a personalised Christmas card to your valuable candidates and clients
Generic "off the shelf" greetings and team signatures are nice but have no marketing value whatsoever. Take the time to hand-write a few sentences that specifically say what you have appreciated about that person's contribution to your success in the past year. The few extra minutes you take to do this will ensure that your Christmas card is the one that your customer reads and is more likely to keep ahead of any other "ho ho ho" Christmas missive.

2. Make a social call to all the candidates you placed throughout the year
Tell them they were one of X number of people you found a new position for that year. Thank them for working with you and wish them the best for Christmas and the New Year. Make it an entirely social call (they've probably been asked 100 plus times that year whether they ‘know of anyone like them who is looking for work' so don't be tempted to go there!). If they want to talk work that's fine but don't you be the one to direct the conversation that way.

3. Review your calendar year client billings figures
Identify all the clients who have given you less business this year than previous year. Make pre-Christmas calls to arrange January visits for those customers and find out what's really going on in their business.

4. Give a carefully selected Christmas gift to your top customers
A carefully selected gift appropriate for that particular person generally has more impact than a bottle of wine or a hamper.

5. Where are they now?
Review all the candidates you interviewed in January and February of this year who you didn't place. Some of them probably ended up staying where they were (due to a counter-offer or cold feet) and are now no further advanced with their old employer than last year.

Others may have been placed by a competitor and are now reflecting on the 9 or 10 months they have spent in a job that was over-sold to them. Call the best 6 to 10 candidates from your pool and find out what they are doing.


6. Send a note of congratulations
Review websites and/or publications most relevant to your target market and take note of any annual awards or acknowledgments announced for companies or individuals. December is the most prolific month for these sorts of things. Send a hand-written note of congratulations to any person you want to target. Follow up with a call in mid-January.

7. Set your goals and rewards for the new year
Set some clear, inspiring stretch goals for the January-March quarter and then find a photo of what you would treat yourself to when you knock over those goals. ie. island holiday, latest iPod, new car, that designer outfit or a new job.

Put your "reward photo" where you can see it from your desk, as a source of motivation and inspiration when you return to work in the New Year.


8. Clean out your desk drawers and throw out all that crap
You've been looking at it and thinking about doing it all year. Do you really still need that post-it with the name and number of the horror blind date from RSVP? That apple at the back of the bottom drawer can now be donated to science. No, you really don't need that many pens and highlighters.

9. New year, new look
Buy a new suit at the Boxing Day or New Year sales. Get that haircut you've been putting off. Start the new year looking sharp!

10. Share your success
Tell your mum and dad or a loved one what a great year you've had. It will make their Christmas to know you're a success, no matter what your own views are about the past year.

As
the year draws to a close, it is important to take some time off, draw breath and reflect upon your progress. It is just as important, while you are still at your desk, not to take your foot off the accelerator when there are plenty of opportunities to do small things that could make a very big difference to your motivation and results when you return to your desk in January.

At the very least, you'll come back to a clean desk.

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