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The Resilient Recruiter

Mar 8, 2024

Are you a solo recruiter curious about achieving extraordinary billing figures with just a handful of daily conversations? Meet Craig, a solo recruiter who's been smashing records. For the last 3 consecutive years, he’s billed over $1.25m as a solo recruiter, reaching a career milestone of $1.5m in 2023, which was a down year for many recruiters.

In today’s episode, we explore how solo recruiters can level up their recruitment game with conversations even when times are tough with a returning guest, Craig Picken. Craig is the co-founder and Managing Partner for Northstar Group, a boutique executive search firm based in Wilmington, NC.  


Tune in and get invaluable insights from Craig's unique approach that challenges the norms and redefines what's possible for solo recruiters in today's competitive landscape. His ability to navigate the complexities of talent acquisition is truly remarkable. Whether you're a seasoned recruiter or just starting out in the industry, this episode offers actionable tips to enhance your recruitment conversations and propel your career to new heights. 


Episode Outline And Highlights

  • [03:47] The conversations that contributed to Mike’s 1.5m billing record 

  • [06:37] What qualifies the right conversations and people

  • [10:03] Two tools for tracking recruitment conversation 

  • [14:42] How to ring the phone and create “spontaneous conversations.”

  • [20:11] How to position yourself for the long game and value “not transactions.”

  • [27:53] Non-negotiables for success when partnering with a client 

  • [34:50] How to avoid burnout: Solo recruiters' physical and mental self-care tips 

  • [42:14] What solo recruiters can do to level up to $3-400k recruiters

  • [48:35] Craig’s philosophy of content creation and tactics for writing

  • [54:54] How podcasting can drive conversations and position you as an expert

  • [57:26] Strategies to building a 10K people email list for your podcast

  • [58:44] How to do outbound calls and the volume of calls to puts out there

  • [01:01:08] What solo recruiters need to do today to be successful tomorrow

5 Steps to Level Up Your Recruitment Business

Craig and I discussed his recruitment strategies at Northstar Group company, a boutique executive search firm based in Wilmington, NC, that focuses on recruiting senior-level leadership, sales, and operations executives for some of the most prominent companies in the aviation and aerospace industry. Craig’s clients include well-known aircraft OEMs, aircraft operators, leasing / financial organizations, and Maintenance / Repair / Overhaul (MRO) providers. With a track record spanning over a decade, Craig has personally concluded hundreds of successful executive-level searches across a variety of disciplines.

Craig outlined five essential steps for recruiters looking to elevate their game:


  1. Invest in Yourself: Craig emphasized the importance of self-investment, urging recruiters to spend some money, go to conferences, engage in level-up conversations, and continuously seek opportunities for personal and professional growth.

  2. Follow the Right People: Recognizing the challenges of talent acquisition, Craig advised recruiters to connect with industry leaders to enhance their credibility and reputation as go-to experts. Following the right people will help you become a destination of choice. 

  3. Know who you are working with: Success in recruitment, according to Craig, hinges on understanding your clients, delivering value, nurturing relationships, and adopting a long-term perspective.

  4. Choose Your Battles Wisely: Drawing from his experience and insights from the Naval Top Gun program, Craig shares a valuable lesson: “If you can’t win the fight, don’t fight. Go away and come back. Live to fight another day,” which is a great philosophy in recruiting.

  5. Differentiate yourself: Craig encouraged solo recruiters to carve out their unique identity and differentiate themselves from the competition. Whether through thought leadership on platforms like LinkedIn or showcasing their authentic self, it can significantly impact their success in the field.


Ultimately, leveling up in recruitment involves positioning yourself as a trusted industry expert, promoting your voice, and leading by example. 

Positioning Yourself In The Market

Craig shares the importance of positioning oneself in the market not merely as a transactional recruiter but as an invaluable resource, an expert dedicated to adding tangible value. By prioritizing value over closing deals, recruiters can elevate their status in the client's eyes. Rather than seeking short-term gains, they should aim to build lasting relationships grounded in trust and mutual benefit. According to Craig, the last thing he wants to be in his life is transactional, which is here today and gone tomorrow.

Positioning yourself in the market is about relationships and being with your clients every step of the way. It’s about maintaining a client-centric approach throughout the entire engagement process, being present, reliable, and supportive at every stage, regardless of the challenges or obstacles. This commitment to the long game ensures that clients and prospective clients feel supported and understood, strengthening the bond and attracting more business.

In addition, Craig advocates for prioritizing integrity over immediate financial gain. When recruiters focus on delivering exceptional results, monetary rewards will naturally follow. Don’t succumb to desperation or compromise on your principles for money; this can lead to dissatisfaction and ultimately damage the client relationship. Be willing to walk away from situations that don't align with your values to ensure you can pursue mutually beneficial partnerships built on trust and respect.


Our Sponsor


This podcast is proudly sponsored by i-intro 


i-intro® is an end-to-end retained recruitment platform. Their technology and methodology allow recruiters to differentiate themselves from the competition, win more retained business, bigger fees, and increase their billings. Their software combined with world-class training enables you to transition from transactional, contingency recruiter to consultative, retained recruiter. Instead of being perceived as a “me too” vendor, you’ll be positioned as a “me only” solutions provider. Be sure to mention Mark Whitby or The Resilient Recruiter. Book your free, no-obligation consultation here:


Craig Picken Bio and Contact Info


Craig is the Co-founder and Managing Partner for Northstar Group, a boutique executive search firm based in Wilmington, NC. Craig is focused on recruiting senior-level leadership, sales, and operations executives for some of the most prominent companies in the aviation and aerospace industry. Clients include well-known aircraft OEM’s, aircraft operators, leasing / financial organizations, and Maintenance / Repair / Overhaul (MRO) providers. Since 2009 he has personally concluded several hundred executive-level searches in a variety of disciplines.



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