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Recruiting is a 20-Mile March

Originally published
Originally published: 12/9/2020

Sometimes I think we use recruiting as an excuse for poor business performance. It’s kind of like using the weather as an excuse for a bad year in HVACR. Is it really the weather? Or is the weather just a convenient way to cover a lack of planning?

In the same vein, do we blame our company’s less-than-stellar results on the fact that “there just aren’t enough good people out there?”

I consistently hear that recruiting is everyone’s biggest constraint to growth, but I also don’t see a lot of people actively doing anything about it.

Are we serious about recruiting and ensuring we have the right staff levels to grow our business? Or do we prefer to use recruiting issues as an excuse for our lack of growth? You tell me.

At Nexstar’s 2019 Super Meeting in San Antonio, keynote speaker and best-selling business author Jim Collins told the story of Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott, two explorers who competed in 1911 to be the first to reach the South Pole.

Both explorers began the journey at roughly the same time, but Amundsen and his group arrived at the South Pole nearly a month before Scott’s group. How did they do it? Amundsen’s group stayed disciplined — they marched an average of 15 to 20 miles per day.

Scott’s group, on the other hand, would march many more miles on good weather days, while not marching on bad weather days. Amundsen’s consistency, focus and discipline helped him beat Scott to the South Pole.

Because Scott’s team took so long to get to the South Pole, they ran into the colder months and died on the journey back.

Recruiting isn’t life or death but ignoring it as a business process to be worked on consistently and with discipline could certainly kill your business.

Earlier in my career, I worked as a recruiter for the company that owns Avis and Budget Car Rental. I learned that staffing demands, coupled with employee turnover, meant I would always be recruiting.

It was a struggle at first, and oftentimes frustrating. I would fill positions, take my foot off the pedal and then find that I had to start over to fill positions.

I learned that when I took my foot off the pedal for a moment and slowed down my recruiting efforts, I would lose momentum and basically have to start from scratch when I needed more people.

But I found that if I kept the momentum going — stayed persistent in my process and spent time on it, even when not officially hiring — I was able to fill positions faster because I had a pipeline of candidates.

Staying active in my recruiting efforts was the key. Much like Roald Amundsen, I stayed consistent with 20-mile recruiting marches, as opposed to doing long marches and then taking time off. The effort paid off later when I was recognized with a company award for my work.

A colleague called and asked what my secret to success had been. My response was simple: “Persistence.”

Recruiting is not easy. It takes persistence. It requires you to create a process and follow it up with consistency, focus and discipline. Recruiting is a 20-mile march.

Regardless of the size of your company, or who in the company is the owner of recruiting, ensure there is time during the week dedicated to recruitment efforts.

If you’re the owner and it falls on you, take an hour or two each day and focus your efforts on posting jobs, sourcing and screening resumes, and making contacts.

Be consistent. Be focused. Be disciplined. Make recruiting a 20-mile march and you’ll find your recruiting efforts will pay off as you gain momentum and get to the staffing levels you planned for the year.

Steffan Busch is a Recruiting & Retention Coach at Nexstar Network. To learn more visit call 888-240-7827 or email

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