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6 Core Elements of Recruitment Mastery

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Watching a master craftsman at work is a sight to behold.

With confidence forged over years of practice, complicated steps appear effortless, problems are smoothly managed, and the final product is perfect, in every sense of the word. Within each of us is the ability to become a master, but it’s the yearning desire to achieve that separates the truly great.

In a passage from the Declaration of Independence, one particular phrase has stuck with me: “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” In just seven words, the human condition is wonderfully defined, an ideal hinting toward the true essence of life. Not only the freedom to pursue your goals and chase your dreams but also the thrill of achieving them.

We crave mastery. It’s what we were put on this earth to achieve.

I’ve adopted this philosophy into every aspect of my life, but what I’m most proud of is the culture this has created within Morunda. An endless pursuit of achieving market mastery.

Our goal is not only to dominate the pharmaceutical recruitment industry but also to develop strong relationships with every pharmaceutical company, marketer, medical doctor, and clinical development professional in the industry. No small feat, to be sure, but this drive to achieve has been fundamental to our success.

As I reflect on my years in recruitment, I’d like to share what makes a team truly special and my thoughts on what is needed to achieve true mastery in our industry.

The willingness to ask the right questions

Of course, you’ve got to ask questions to understand a client’s needs, but honing your ability to probe with the “right” questions is a subtle art. A delicate touch to get a client talking. Opening up about their culture, their values, and the particular “fit” they are looking for with a candidate. One who not only seamlessly integrates into the new organization but also onboards quickly and becomes a valued asset for years to come. Using investigative skills to find a perfect fit.

In my experience, I have to say, there is a match out there for even the trickiest of needs. But it requires a recruiter who is a master of asking the right questions. And not only that, it also goes a step further. In certain situations, you may not have all the answers yourself. I know too well the pressure in our industry to be seen as an expert in your field, but this isn’t an area you can fake. It takes true mastery to ask the right questions and the humility to be up front with your clients when you haven’t gotten an answer right away.

The grit to persevere through every obstacle

One of my favorite definitions of mastery is from a TED Talk by art historian Sara Lewis, who explained the concept as “constantly wanting to close the gap of where you are and where you want to be.” But this is only part of the picture. The desire to improve is the first step, and in a society brimming with life hacks and instant gratification, I’d suggest grit as a core element behind true mastery.

Too often we celebrate an individual’s success while neglecting to even mention the tears, struggles, and disappointments along the way. The hours in practice. The obstacles to overcome. True mastery of any skill is no small feat, and it requires a special kind of person to persevere. To be willing to put in the time and effort needed to research a client properly, screen candidates, and actually follow through on every promise made. Steve Jobs summed this quality up best: “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.”

The ability to deliver a repeatable process

Success in recruiting is presenting the client with a dynamic shortlist of candidates in three weeks and closing the position in six. Yet while this achievement hits it out of the park, it means nothing unless you can do it again and again and again. Consistency is fundamental to mastery and is perhaps best supported by a few words from Jiro Ono, aptly regarded as the greatest sushi craftsman alive. “I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is.”

Mastering the art of recruitment requires a similar approach. Whenever you are called upon by a client, you need to be ready with your A game. To consistently find, recruit, and onboard star performers for your clients, top candidates with the skill, experience, and that secret sauce needed to succeed within an organization. Being able to produce stellar results, time and time again, will form a foundation for long-term success, where your results do all the talking.

The will to perform deliberate practice

Notice I say “deliberate” here. There’s more to practice than merely putting in the time. You can’t spend 10,000 hours on a driving range and expect to hold your own against a star like Tiger Woods. The way you’re practicing matters just as much as how long you spend practicing. That’s the key.

A colleague of mine started his recruiting career with a number of rejected offers. But rather than quitting and walking away, he picked himself up and continued to place more than 100 calls a day. Learning after every interaction, he analyzed each call and quickly mastered the process, turning initial disappointments into sales. A lot of sales. Of course, he could have easily gotten frustrated and quit, or worse, merely repeated the same steps to the same result. But Anthony’s secret was his will. A strong desire to not only power through the short-term pain but also learn from it and use it as fuel to continue working. To make a gradual process, inching toward daily, weekly, and monthly goals, and achieve true mastery with deliberate practice.

The desire to go above and beyond

There’s a reason we often get referred to as headhunters. We’re always on the search. Always looking for the best and brightest candidates. Hunting, for lack of a better term. We do it every day of the year to ensure we’re able to deliver the right people into the right roles for our clients. It can be tough, much like the spirit of mastery from William Ernest Henley’s poem “Invictus”: “In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance. My head is bloody, but unbowed.” True mastery lies in your ability to go above and beyond, no matter what else is happening.

But more than that. Mastery in recruitment requires commitment. A deep-seated need to not only master the search process but also to want to please your clients to a level that leaves them in awe. You can’t teach this; you have to honestly want it. And part of what makes our team at Morunda special really is our people. Not only do I hold them to my impossibly high standards of client care, but I’ve also put together a team that stands firmly behind our vision and will always go the extra mile.

The consistent drive to improve

Reflecting on his life, NBA legend Larry Bird says he was really satisfied only at three points in his career: the days immediately following each of his championships. Following these, he was back on the court, sharpening his skills and honing his game. Because if mastery is what you seek, there is no finish line. In recruitment, it’s incredible how fast the industry moves. Knowledge can be out of date in months, and it’s important to stay current on the latest recruitment trends, technology to aid the search process, and even best practices for hiring in the digital age. What “used to work” is no longer good enough. Recruiters need to be better. Mastery comes from a consistent drive to improve.

Realistically, we’ll never be able to develop a meaningful relationship with every company and candidate in Asia, and our clients won’t likely find cures for every disease known to humankind. Yet the pursuit of mastery begets excellence. By staying current, informed, and always seeking the best possible outcomes for every single one of our clients, I believe we are at the forefront of the recruitment industry.

Ultimately, achieving mastery in recruitment is more about the process than the outcome. It’s a ride we are on. It won’t always be perfect, but if your team is asking the right questions, working to define a repeatable process, and striving for continued improvement, they’re on the right path. So the next time you stumble, don’t fret. Take a minute to smile, give thanks, and use the opportunity to raise the bar a quarter of an inch. Bit by bit, you’ll improve, and soon you’ll also be part of a team continually pushing the boundaries and defining a new level of success.

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