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The Resilient Recruiter

Jan 21, 2022

Whether you’re a recruitment agency owner who wants to scale, or a recruiter looking to progress their career, you will benefit from listening to my informative and entertaining discussion with Dandan Zhu.  Dandan is the Founder and CEO of DG Recruit, established in 2018 to connect top-billers within agency recruitment with top recruitment firms. As such, she has a valuable perspective on what characteristics make both parties attractive to one another. In this interview, Dandan shared her thought process and interviewing techniques. By the way, she does not pull her punches - if you have a fragile ego, don’t listen to this episode! Dandan started recruiting right out of college as a full-desk pharma headhunter with 3S Group, a top UK recruitment firm that was rapidly expanding in the US. She became a top rookie/top biller internationally and parlayed her success in technical and executive recruitment into aggressive savings strategies converted into largely real estate investments, retiring at age 28. After 2 years off, Dandan re-entered the recruitment scene by establishing DG Recruit in 2018, a recruitment firm that only services agency recruiters.

Episode Outline and Highlights

  • [3:08] Dandan’s recruitment story and the secret to her rapid success.
  • [9:42] Investing and retiring at an early age.
  • [12:26] Based on her experience, what advice would Dandan give to recruiters?
  • [17:50] What led Dandan to launch a recruitment-to-recruitment agency.
  • [22:20] What to look for in a great recruiter: Dandan shares their parameters and how they ‘read between the lines’.
  • [26:44] How do you assess whether someone has internal drive and motivation as a recruiter? We discussed the clues and tell-tale signs.
  • [38:47] What are the mistakes agencies make when attracting top recruiters? 
  • [58:53] Why technology platforms are an absolute must to increase your chances in hiring the best people.
  • [1:07:17] Dandan’s investment portfolio and the mindset shift required for recruiters who want to get rich.

Characteristics Dandan Looks For When Interviewing Recruiters  

“Our candidate speaks for us, if the candidate is not performing well, is not driven… we don’t want to do the deal.” That is how Dandan’s summarized their guiding principle when it comes to identifying candidates for their clients. She laid out the following non-negotiable characteristics when looking for great placeable recruiters:

  • Track Record
  • For Juniors: Understanding Their Journey
  • Socially Savvy
  • Verbally Adept (Decent Communication Skills)
  • Deep Drive

For her, the biggest piece is getting to know if the candidate really understands what recruitment is. Dandan gives direct and hard hitting advice on how she assesses candidates. 

Why Some Recruitment Agencies Will Never Attract Top Recruiters

I asked Dandan about common mistakes that recruitment agencies make when it comes to recruiting recruiters. She was quite blunt in her appraisal of the industry and explained that most agency owners are unrealistic about the sort of person they’re going to attract. 

For example, if the owner isn’t a big biller then in Dandan’s view it’s unlikely they’ll attract big billers to join their team. In Dandan’s words, why would a top biller join an environment where they’re not going to learn and be challenged? She believes that if you’re a small firm with only average billings, then you can forget about hiring experienced top-producers. Instead, you’ll find more success by hiring recent graduates and training them from the ground up.

She also described certain “must-haves” for recruitment agencies who want to hire the best recruiters. She believes most agencies just aren’t very attractive and wouldn’t qualify for representation by a rec-to-rec agency like DG recruit. Some critical must-haves are: excellent employee benefits (such as health insurance), and the ability to work remotely. She also emphasized the importance of having an excellent platform - in other words, you must provide people with all the right tools for them to be successful. 

Our Sponsors

This podcast is proudly sponsored by i-intro®. 

i-intro® is an end-to-end retained recruitment platform. Our technology and methodology allows recruiters to differentiate themselves from the competition, win more retained business, bigger fees and increase their billings. Be sure to mention Mark Whitby or The Resilient Recruiter for a 25% discount. Book your free, no-obligation consultation here: 

Dandan Zhu Bio and Contact Info

Dandan fell in love with the recruitment business in 2011 when she started her career at a top international headhunting firm for 5 years where she built out multiple niche & executive search divisions and teams before retiring a week after her 5th year anniversary as a global top producer.

As an entrepreneur, Dandan built career coaching business Dandan Global in 2016 and DG Recruit in 2018 while accumulating a robust portfolio of rental properties and crypto investment assets. 

Dandan travels frequently to coach top recruitment professionals and firms in every major city and speak about topics including sales, personal development, and strategies for life and career success. Dandan also hosts 2 podcasts, the DG Recruit Podcast and Daily DANDAN Podcast, to help job-seekers and recruiters get ahead in their life and careers.

While working on DGR and real estate investing is Dandan’s primary passion and focus, she is also a huge Harry Potter nerd, dog-lover, avid traveler, foodie, and snowboarder.

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