Getting back up again: The 'R factor' and success in recruitment

Getting back up again: The 'R factor' and success in recruitment

26 Apr 08:00 by Nicola Crocco


Where does the ability to continually 'pick ourselves up' and 'dust ourselves off' come from?  And why do some people do it so easily and others struggle? This is something that’s very dear to my heart:  Resilience, or as I affectionally call it, the 'R factor'.

I’ve been around the recruitment game for some time and I’ve seen lots of recruiters come and go.  The 'goers' come into the game bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and within six months, they’re chanting, 'recruitment is not for me.' They’re not billing enough, everything is taking too long and nothing seems to be within their lotus of control.  Our industry loses so much talent so early in the piece - a crying shame because we all know that the industry needs a serious injection of the stuff. 

Every recruiter in town will have an opinion on why so many fail.  My belief is that it all boils down to 'R factor'.  Allow me to digress for a moment: As a parent I want many things for my children.  Of course, the 'A Game' is that they will grow-up to be empathetic, driven, authentic and respectful individuals who are contributing to society in a meaningful way. I hope for my children to be all of these things. But what I know about my children is that they will experience many knock-backs, they will not win at everything, they will fall and they will fail.  So, my belief is that, actually, one of the best tools I can teach my children is 'R factor'.  With enough 'R factor' in their tanks, when they get knocked down they will have the resources to be able to march on in life, learn from their mistakes and do things a bit better next time.

Stay with my digression a little more:  I’ve been reading up on how to help my kids build 'R factor'.  It turns out there are some large bodies of psychological work (ref: Dweck and Cloninger) on this topic relating to the inverse effect of praise on children. Briefly, their findings indicate that too much praise turns children into short-term thinking, reward-seeking, praise-junkies who give up when they can’t see the reward immediately on the horizon.  They suggest that the answer lies in praising the process, the effort and the hard work involved in the child achieving any result, rather than the result itself.  The effort and hard work then become the tools/strategies for over-coming challenges, versus giving up when the reward is not immediately in sight.  The 'end-game' is that when the child comes up against a challenging situation, they have the 're-evaluate + effort' strategy to fall back on when responding to failure.  What this ultimately means is that the child sees themselves as being in control of their success.  Their confidence grows and they feel alright about picking themselves up and trying again.  Their 'R factor' is growing.

Full circle to recruitment.  I believe that we need a whole paradigm shift in the way we operate, lead and reward recruiters so that we equip them with oodles of 'R factor' and long-term opportunities for success.  We need to move away from short-term rewards for below-par work.  We need to praise and reward the quality of the process the recruiter engages in, the quality of the relationships that are formed along the way, the quality of the connections and leads that stem from their great work as 'talent magnets'. We desperately need to create a generation of recruitment professionals who are focussed on longer-term, quality-driven outcomes and who don’t cut their industry peers down for short-term, quick-wins (under-cutting that other agency with a ridiculously low fee, for example).

While recruitment will always attract its fair share of criticism, an increase in recruiters who are confident and sure-footed (as opposed to vague, fickle and hesitant) will certainly help client and candidate relationships. That’s exactly why we need to instill more 'R factor' into the profession.