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The Resilient Recruiter

Jan 14, 2020

It’s tough work being a solo recruiter. Everything in your recruitment firm depends on you. Many in the industry choose to remain solo and struggle while others who make that same choice do extraordinarily well.

Rich Rosen fits into that latter category. He consistently bills $1M per year and has lots of repeat business and clients. What’s his secret? I wanted to talk with him to find out and we recorded this episode as a result. 

You’ll hear Rich transparently share how 2019 was one of his worst years in the industry in over 20 years—and how he made a comeback to close out the year with right around $700,000 in placements. You’ll also learn how he sets goals, prioritizes his time, and sets himself up for success every day. I hope you listen. This is a fun conversation full of insights from an everyday guy with a successful track record of recruiting success.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:40] Getting to know Rich Rosen, million-dollar producer year after year
  • [2:01] Why Rich has focused entirely on recruiting for software sales professionals
  • [4:36] The reasons Rich has chosen to stay a one-man firm
  • [13:15] Rich’s toughest year in the last 20 years - what happened
  • [21:40] Setting ground rules with clients enable Rich to work smarter, not harder
  • [30:29] What does it take to become a million dollar biller? 
  • [42:01] Rich’s tips for being as productive as possible and planning well

2019 was a disastrous year but Rich rebounded nicely

2019 was a perfect storm for Rich’s recruitment firm. Market conditions, industry trends, and outright strange events combined to prevent him from progressing at a normal rate. He started the year with only $30,000 billed within the first 4 months, which was far below his normal average for that time of year. Many deals fell apart at the last minute and $522,000 in billings evaporated. Rich says that among those losses were a handful of clients who rescinded deals weeks away from hiring the candidates Rich had provided. He says he’s only seen that happen a handful of times in over 20 years in the industry.

But by the time we recorded this conversation—early November 2019—Rich had rebounded to a hopeful $700,000 year-end revenue total. It was still shy of his $1M average but far above what many recruiters realize even in good years.

How did he do it? Part of the recovery came from restructuring of his fees. Up until that point, his business operated 99% of the time on a contingent fee structure. He pivoted to a partial retainer model and included up-front fees of $8,000 to $16,000 for many clients. He said this change helped him discern which opportunities were serious and which would likely turn out to be a waste of his efforts. It also enabled him to attract clients who were truly serious about their search. Listen to hear the details of how Rich learned to scrutinize opportunities, increase his cold calling, and reconnect with old clients to overcome his early deficit.

Setting ground rules for good communication is key to success as a solo recruiter

Every client's situation will be different but Rich has learned that there are fundamental understandings that need to exist if a recruiter is going to work efficiently and effectively for the client. The most important of those ground rules is good communication. As an example, Rich communicates deadlines to his clients to impress on them the degree to which he’s willing to help them accomplish their hiring goals quickly. He routinely says to clients that if he sends a message or piece of information to them and does not hear from them within 48 hours, he will put his work for them on hold and send any candidates for their position that he’s communicating about to others in his database. This urgency tells his clients that if they truly want to get things done, they need to communicate.

Rich realizes this might sound extreme but he’s found it essential to deliver on what clients want and expect and to help them be accountable for those results. At the very least he expects a text from the client with basic information about the things he’s sent to them. He sends them information for a reason and expects them to help him streamline the process and be effective on their behalf. 

Key ingredients to becoming a million-dollar biller

No recruiter bills $1M annually by accident. I wanted to hear from Rich himself what he thinks goes into being such a consistently successful person. His tips were pure gold. Here’s what he had to say: 

  1. Be authentic: Don’t be fake, don’t lie, and be as honest and blunt as you can. Speak with candor about your insights. Business isn’t rocket science, so be authentic and real. Keep your calls short (he schedules them for 15 minutes) and get to the point, learn what you need to know about the candidate, and stay in touch.
  2. Master an industry-specific niche: Doing this makes every call matter. If you’re a generalist, every call is a shot in the dark and you have no focus. If you’ve chosen a specific niche you can build a database of people to cycle through that’s relevant for almost every situation you encounter. 
  3. Become the industry expert: Gain a reputation in the industry as the go-to guy, the insider. Do this by giving great advice to anyone who asks. Tell them companies to avoid and those that would be a good fit. 

When you’re selling your services to a potential client, mastering these areas adds credibility. Rich notes that by doing your job well you are enhancing the hiring manager’s career—and you need to portray that to them. Find out exactly what they’re looking for in a candidate. Tell them this is your niche and that you’ll always bring them the right person. If you don’t, you don’t get paid. When they can see it in those simple terms, they tend to commit and get the process moving.

Tips for being as productive as possible and planning effectively

Rich has proven that he is an effective recruiter. But how does he do it? A lot of grunt work. Rich believes phone calls are king. He makes at least 50 a day, whether it be to previous candidates, old clients, or people he’s just added to his database.

Rich works from home and his typical workday starts at 8 am with making and returning phone calls. He’ll spend time returning emails and is always sure to leave at least an hour for VP calls. Unlike many recruiters, he takes time to respond to everyone. Because he works nationwide, he structures his calls as such: East coast calls first thing in the morning, then Central time, then he works on those living in the Pacific time zone. 

Something Rich does—that many recruiters might not have the drive for—is research in the evenings and on the weekends. He’ll look for candidates on LinkedIn or in his database and gather their email and phone number. He’ll then shoot them an email the night before letting them know to expect a call from him the next day. It’s time-consuming, it’s grunt-work, but he admits that you learn a lot in the process and it turns potential “cold calls” into “warmer” calls.. 

Rich is a no-excuses and no wasted time type of guy and it’s part of why he’s found so much success. To hear how he fully maximizes his time to be the most efficient and effective recruiter he can possibly be, be sure to listen to the whole episode.

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