The Rule of Threes

OKI’ve been in the staffing industry for several years and almost every month I come into contact with a colleague that feels like they’re doing everything correctly but aren’t getting the placement results they feel correlate with his/her efforts.

Our career is full of these types of moments but I always try to remind friends of mine going through this the same advice that was given to me several years ago by a mentor. That advice is called the “Rule of Threes.” When I first heard it, I thought it was clichéd, and you could put it up on the shelf as so many other pearls of wisdom such as a penny saved is a penny earned. The longer I’m been in the business, though, the more I think it really has merit.

Quite simply, for every three job orders you make, you fill one. For every three submittals you make, you get an interview.  Finally, for every three interviews you get, you fill one. Sounds simple, and while every month doesn’t necessarily work that way, by the end of a fiscal year, the law of averages tends to bear out.

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When you apply this principle, you can’t really count jobs that aren’t quality positions or positions in which you’re submitting mediocre candidates along with several other firms. These are positions in which the company has solid incentive to fill a need and you’re submitting well-vetted candidates that have a sincere interest in the position(s) they’re vying for. When you apply this logic, you have to dissect it a little further and realize there are other segments of legwork that have to be applied for those three staples to work. These include making the proper amount of phone calls to companies and trying to secure new contacts as well as established customers to generate job orders. This also includes trying to connect with a good pool of placeable candidates. Remember, it’s not the most qualified candidate that gets the job but the candidate that interviews the best.

You also have to get out and press the flesh and personally meet with viable executives as well as candidates and make sure that the job bears weight and the candidate will represent you well in an interview. Remember, if a candidate doesn’t present well in your home, why would you try to place them in someone else’s?

Another element that is key is activity. You have to submit a certain amount of candidates to generate interview activity and that usually translates into placements. I’ve heard plenty of stories about prodigies in our industry that have almost a one-to-one ratio in terms of candidates submitted in relation to positions filled. More often than not, those staffing professionals also make very few placements because they’re afraid to step out on the ledge and make mistakes. You can’t afford to make a lot, but you have to be willing to make some. With that same logic, learn from your mistakes but try to develop a short-term memory so you don’t dwell on them. I think if you apply these basic precepts, you’ll develop a better sense of security as well as enhance your opportunities to generate more success.

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Michael Barefoot
Michael Barefoot is senior account executive at Red Zone Resources. He can be reached at mikeb (at ) redzoneresources (dot) com.

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