When Life Gives You Tomatoes (A Recruiting Analogy)

When you’ve been in the recruiting industry long enough you see “recruiting” lessons in everything around you.

This past weekend, I spent some time in our vegetable garden. Before you judge me for having a vegetable garden, understand that I’m squarely in my “mid-life” at the ripe age of 45 years old, and recently became a grandfather – all proof that me having a vegetable garden is warranted! But I digress…

For those who aren’t familiar with growing tomatoes, they’ve got to be pruned – well, the type we have anyways, but I won’t get into the different types of tomatoes in this article. There are two primary reasons for pruning.

First, pruning leads to better quality and larger fruit. When pruning, you remove what are referred to as “suckers”. Suckers grow between the main vine of the tomato and its branches and, if left unpruned, eventually grow into lots of foliage and produce a few small fruit. When these suckers are pruned, it enables the plant to direct its energy towards producing fruit rather than foliage.

Second, pruning defends against pest and disease problems. If tomato plants are left unpruned, foliage can touch the ground and become susceptible to bacteria, fungi, and viral infections that can spread to the rest of the plant.

Do you see where I’m going here?

A big challenge in recruiting is for recruiters to recognize when they need to walk away from a candidate. Often, recruiters spend considerable time on these suckers – pun intended. You know who they are! These are the candidates that may yield some small fruit in the future, but most likely will grow into nothing more than foliage and most certainly bring you heartburn and possibly even tears in the future if that’s your thang.

Successful recruiters are masters at recognizing suckers. And, they are quick to prune them from their candidate pipeline. Because they understand these little time-wasters won’t yield fruit (placements), and if they do, they’ll likely be of poor quality. If you’re a recruiter and you find yourself coming up on the short-end a lot these days, ask yourself, “Am I spinning my wheels because I’m working with a bunch of suckers?”

Pruning these folks from your pipeline will enable you to focus your energy in areas that are more likely to lead to high-quality candidates and ultimately high-quality placements. Remember, time is a limited-resource…invest it wisely.

If you fail to prune these candidates, it’s likely that you’ll expose yourself to backouts and terminations, offer declinations, etc. You see, the cost of holding on to these candidates isn’t just in the time you invest in them, but also in the time it will cost you in the long run if you do ever get them placed! Much like a tomato plant becomes more susceptible to pests and disease, if left unpruned, your desk will become susceptible to unfavorable outcomes that can have a devastating impact on your growth 

The moral of the story is that pruning your candidate pipeline is a necessary step in becoming a great recruiter in the travel healthcare staffing industry. Much like a pruned tomato plant yields better quality and larger fruit, your desk too will grow by leaps and bounds because you’re able to focus your energy on high-quality candidates.

So, let’s get those pruners sharpened and cut some suckers out of those pipelines!


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