I am going to veer off topic for this month. Normally, I write articles about prepping your candidates for interviews so that they have a greater probability of getting a job offer. After all, you have spent a great deal of time and effort in getting each party interested in working together and getting the interview set up. You have earned the privilege of working on the next step in the placement process which is negotiating that offer so that it is acceptable for both your client and your candidate. So watch for future articles to help you to make that happen.
As this is the New Year and a new decade, I’d like to talk about association memberships in relation to how these memberships help you to move through the placement process. Specifically, I am referring to membership in your staffing and recruiting associations, both state and national. On the surface, it sounds like a reach, doesn’t it? How can belonging to a trade association help you to close more deals? Let’s explore that by looking at the basic offerings of every staffing and recruiting trade association.
Legislative & Legal
I have the privilege of being a part of the NAPS membership committee. NAPS is the National Association of Personnel Services (www.recruitinglife.com). While NAPS seems to be holding on to a steady total membership number, there seems to be as many members leaving as there are members joining. That doesn’t make any sense. And for many of the other state and national associations, their overall membership numbers have decreased. This makes even less sense to me. Why would you let your membership lapse at a time when your membership can do you the most good?
Every down spike in the economy presents us with a chance to renew our sense of purpose and professionalism, to shine among our peers. For those who have survived this recession and those who have seen past recessions, you have learned how to enjoy the good times and get serious during the bad times. A dedicated recruiter knows that to be triumphant, regardless of the economy, requires a long-term career commitment and a continued plan to stay educated and aware of the newest trends and expectations. Active membership provides you with a variety of educational opportunities. Local chapters will host local events with top notch speakers and trainers discussing topics of interest with ample time for networking.
Annual conferences provide a vast array of educational topics to choose from, sometimes with so much information at once that it seems overwhelming even for the most seasoned recruiter. You get direct contact with the best industry trainers and motivational speakers. Specifically, most conferences have a legal tract which offers direct access to lawyers specializing in staffing and recruiting. You can get answers to your questions. You get updates in laws and regulations which will help you in your business but also will give you information which you can use to educate your clients.
Of course, there have been a number of recruiters and firms that have gone out of business. Recruiters who did not really know how to do their jobs well have left the industry. Those that thought this was an easy job have learned that it is not. Those who could not get through this economic downturn and who did not get involved in their association activities have rightfully let their association membership lapse, and I am relieved to say, they have left the industry.
I commend those recruiters and recruiting firms that are joining their state and national associations now and I applaud those who have renewed their memberships for they are the future of this industry. They seem to understand that, especially in a slow (dead) economy, they need to “belong” to succeed. A down economy is the best time to belong. This is when the benefits of an association mean the most. Now is the time to use your association membership to bring about the future success you desire.
There is work for you out there. Good job orders are just waiting to be filled by you. Why not use your association membership to help you get those orders. Clients have always had a limited amount of time and money to spend on the recruiting function and are looking to work with the best recruiters, recruiters with credibility. Help them to select you. Tell them about your active memberships. Show them that your commitment to your industry makes you better educated, better connected, and more reliable. Use the credibility of your association membership as a reason to connect or reconnect with a client. If you have industry certifications, promote them. Your clients like to do business with successful people. Show them who you are.
When times were great, few recruiters needed to work on split fee agreements with other recruiters. I have always been an advocate of splits, even in the good times. Your clients are counting on you to fill all their open requisitions and naturally, you want all of your job orders to be filled. Yet we all know that there are frustrations to working splits. Many of these problems are negated by selecting recruiters or firms who are also members of the same association as you. One of the networking advantages of belonging to your state or national association is the integrity factor. By being active, members get to know so many other members by name and specialty. To refer to LinkedIn logic, a large number of members know each other as direct connections and the remaining members are never more than 2 connections away. So the fear of working with an unknown recruiter is diminished. And an even better advantage is that lifetime friendships are formed from these relationships.
A poor economy can create another problem, a more personal “hit” to your recruiting self-esteem. So many deals are lost through absolutely no fault of your own and after a while it gets harder and harder to move forward. Having relationships with other association members is a lot more than just having someone to commiserate with. These friends can be there with words of encouragement or advice to help you successfully maneuver through a hard day which in turn will make the next day easier. Your mental health in this industry is critical. You need to be on top of your game with every interaction. Why not lean on the strength of your association?
All great athletes practice every day and they all have coaches. As recruiters, you get out there every day and interact with people who need you, though some may not yet realize it. The relationships you develop with other members of your association are very similar to having multiple coaches, people with expertise in your career-field, who would like to see you succeed.
So, how does membership in your state and nation associations help you in the placement process?
Credibility with your clients and prospective clients to get orders that you may not have gotten otherwise.
Split placement opportunities with reputable firms to fill more orders than you may have filled alone.
The opportunity to build mentoring relationships and friendships that will endure.
The chance to learn from industry leaders with educational programs via seminars, conferences, webinars, luncheons, meetings, etc.
Access to free or low cost legal expertise from experts IN your industry, who understand and respect what you do.
These are the obvious reasons to maintain your trade association memberships. The other reasons are more personal stories. There are thousands of these personal stories, success stories of how placements were saved and fees collected by way of the advice given by trusted associates who are also members. Of course, you only get out of your associations what you are willing to give. You will be asked for your advice and expertise and be given many opportunities to donate your time to your association. There is a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that you were able to help a colleague. So, be a part of your association, today.
Join, renew, and get involved in the industry that is your career.