There’s a famous quote that says “if I had 5 minutes to cut down a tree, I’d spend two and half sharpening my axe.”

Some people have wrongly attributed this to Abraham Lincoln, rather than the lumberjack it seems actually said it. Quite why anyone would think a famous president is more authentic than a person who cuts down trees for a living, I’m not sure.

But it’s a handy quote to use in preparing yourself for downturns. The fact it comes from someone in the right profession only makes it more so.

Today’s article is all about sharpening your particular axe. The recruitment axe. The one that’s been severely blunted from the hundreds of times you’ve swung it this year.

Hopefully it’s a metaphorical one, but hey, it might not have been the best year.

But even if you felled every tree this year with the enthusiasm of an Amazon jungle parking lot developer, you have no idea of the size of the challenge next year. It might help to make sure you’ve got the same sharpness to you.

Here’s what to do when you have a little more time at your disposal.

N.B. There are going to be constant reminders from above and beyond this month that “it’s not time to take your foot off the gas.”

That “December’s just another month.”

That “just because Santa’s on his way, doesn’t mean the placements need to stop.”

And look, that’s true. But you know as well as I do, how busy you are is universally controlled by the clients you work with. If they’re quiet, so are you.

The advice below will make sure you’re busy doing useful activities, not useless busy work, or playing Candy Crush in the toilet for hours on end, crying, waiting for January.


Task number one

Your first task is heaped in science and enjoyable to do. So it’s a good place to start.

It’s simply this… Meet people.

As many as you can.

The best people to start with are the people you’ve done business with this year. Take them out. Buy them a beer. Thank them for their business. There’s no ulterior motive other than that.

The benefits of meeting people in real life are dramatic.

Firstly there’s a much deeper connection when you do. There are non-verbal clues. A deeper understanding of someone’s character and personality. But also, collaboration comes more naturally when you meet in the flesh.

You’re charismatic, gregarious and full of life. Go and show people and you’ll be amazed at how much more they like you.

There’s a heightened relationship between two people sat next to each other, rather than through a screen, checking Slack, emails and the World Cup score in the background.

You can devote time to getting to know each other. Outside the office, in a neutral setting, and… dare I suggest it… maybe not solely talk about work. Build a rapport. A genuine connection that increases the chances you’ll do more business in January.

It’s also a nice way to break up the day.

So there’s your first task. Book in some coffees, cocktails, sporting fixtures, schooners and after work runs. Leave the office. Give them an excuse to do the same.

Go and spread some festive cheer and gratitude. You’ll both feel invigorated, and make business much easier to come by in the future.


Your second task

Exact brutal revenge on those who’ve wronged you.

OK, that’s just a joke, but glad you’re still paying attention.

Your real second task is honestly analysing the year just gone. Proper, deep, unabashed analysis. Looking back at the year you’ve just had is an exercise in forward thinking.

It’s also cathartic. Write it down. Every deal. Every near miss. Every drop out. Every missed interview. Every candidate flat tyre and deceased hamster. Write it on your note pad so it’s physical. Break it down by month.

Assess it and do so as honestly as you can. Remember, no one else has to see this. You can save the good parts for your review, which you’ll now be far better prepared for.

What went well? What went wrong? How many of those things were your fault?

Did you drop the ball more often than you care to admit? How did the fall outs happen?

The key thing here isn’t to just look at what happened, but why. Once you know that you can address how to stop them happening again. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do. Most of the time there is.

Give yourself the best chance of heading into 2023 better prepared.

By working out what went wrong, you can understand what you need to make January a stormer. What areas of your personal business you need education in? Gentle guidance. What courses are out there for personal development? Where can you improve? And how quickly can you do it?

What free resources exist to make you unstoppable? I’d guess there’s a lot.

Is BD the thing holding you back? Would you be invincible with better candidate engagement? How much in-bound business do you get? Is your personal brand in need of attention?

What’s your LinkedIn game like? And how many referrals do you get from existing clients?

You can only improve systematically if you know where to focus. But once you’ve done this, you’ll be on a rocket ship to self improvement and greater success.


Task number three

Give your pipeline a good ol’ spring clean. Or… festive freshen.

Communication’s one of the most fundamental parts of your job. And so, talking to the people in the market is a very good idea. Whether they’re contractors on a current assignment or just people you know well.

It doesn’t matter if you’re hopeful of placing them now or in the future.

There are very few people in the world who count good information and timely catch ups as a bad thing.

Sure, you might not be expecting some clients to hire before the start of next year. Just make sure every single person in, and on the fringes, of every single process, knows where they stand.

This sounds like an obvious point to make. But a lack of communication creates indifference at best and ill-feeling at worst.

If you make great communication one of the things you’re known for, it’s going to do nothing but good for you and those you work with.

That means calling when there’s no news. Calling to check in. ‘Keeping warm’ those out in the cold.


Task number four

Take some time to actually look after yourself. Relax. Unwind. Make sure you don’t come into January already burnt out for the year ahead.

If this is a surprising fourth point to read you’ve been reading the wrong blogs. Here’s a few home truths to take on board in a very serious way.

  1. There’s no point being the richest person in the graveyard.
  2. There’s no point being in the office at less than 100%.
  3. Stress is infectious.
  4. Burnout is a very real thing and affects even the hardiest souls.
  5. Recruitment’s a very difficult job.

You know this. But reminding yourself is a great thing to do. And doing so regularly.

Whether this year’s been the best you’ve ever had, the worst you’ve ever had, or somewhere in between, I guarantee you’ll have worked incredibly hard. Harder than those in many other jobs and been exposed to greater stress too.

And so, Christmas rolls round, and there’s every temptation in the world to let your hair down. All the way down to the floor. But with late nights and ‘festive spirit’ comes tiredness and the heightened chance of even more stress and burnout.

Give yourself some headspace. Come back actually refreshed. Come back renewed, not beaten up and dreading the very thought of work.


Task number five

Become an unstoppable force of nature in your online reviews.

As you’re reading this on Sourcr, I’ll hazard a guess you know what we do. If not, we’re an online review platform for recruiters.

The reason we do what we do, is that it works. Recruitment’s one of those industries that revolves totally around people.

And the science behind reviews is: they work.

Many of the most successful people in the world became that way from great reviews and referrals. They did fantastic work and got inbound business from friends of those they’d worked with.

That’s what we can offer for you. We’re dedicated to recruitment and it’s totally, 100% free if you’re a SEEK customer.

Here’s some science:

  • We integrate with your ATS and give fully automated review collection
  • It’s a completely free product for SEEK customers.
  • Use of the Sourcr widget on SEEK job ads can increase applications by 26%
  • 83% of people trust others recommendations
  • Referrals are one of the cheapest and most effective ways of getting inbound business
  • 74% of consumers cite referrals as a major influence over buying decisions, helping to overcome trust barriers.

Many of the recruiters on our platform just lack the little bit of time they need to get set up on Sourcr to really make the most of the platform.

Well, you’ve now got that time. Use it and you’ll notice a huge upturn in business next year. Better and more plentiful candidate submissions. And better client retention because of it.

Some final thoughts

Christmas and the festive season’s a great chance for reflection.

It’s a time to have fun and be merry.

But don’t let that come at a cost to your success and financial freedom next year. Prepare now, and do the right things and you’ll start in January on the front foot.

We’ve produced a one page document to help you remember everything discussed in today’s article. You can download that for free here.

Keep it on your desk, and we’ll see you again in the new year.