Industry Spotlight | Brad Wolff, Recruiting Industry Coach | From Challenges to Success: The World of Recruiting

From challenges to success in the world of recruiting.

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Show notes

In this episode, our host, Kortney Harmon dives deep into the world of recruitment with our esteemed guest, Brad Wolff. Brad is an accomplished entrepreneur, who has founded two thriving recruiting firms. He’s here to share his wisdom about the staffing industry, touch upon the importance of Applicant Tracking System, and paint a clear picture on the common hurdles faced by recruiting firm owners. You’ll hear insights about change management, benefits of continuous learning, leveraging relationships for business, and the significance of a well-rounded content strategy. Brad will also share an inspiring case study of how he managed to triple the revenue of a tech firm within six months. We promise a trove of advice and learning on sales and marketing strategies in recruiting firms as well. Sit back, turn up the volume, and enjoy this insightful conversation with Brad Wolff right here on The Full Desk Experience.


Brad Wolff [00:00:00]:

Very rarely do I start working with a firm where they're using their ATS as well as they can be. They're usually not using it properly and that causes so much friction because if you use the ATS just to be a database to keep information, as opposed to a strategic way that you can quickly identify the people that you want, get messages out and get the process going, you're not using your ATS properly.

Kortney Harmon [00:00:24]:

Hi, I'm Kortney Harmon, staffing and Recruiting industry principal at Crelate. This is the full desk experiences industry Spotlight series where we are talking with the top leaders and influencers who are shaping the talent industry. In this series, we'll be shining a light on popular trends, the latest news and the stories that laid the groundwork for their success. Welcome to another exciting episode of the full Desk Experience Industry spotlights. I'm your host, Courtney Harmon and today I have the privilege of interviewing an industry leader who has transformed the world of recruiting. Our guest today is Brad Wolf. He's an accomplished entrepreneur, expert in the field and with his career spanning over 28 years, Brad has founded not only one, but two highly successful recruiting firms, establishing himself as a true pioneer in our industry. Brad's wealth of knowledge and experience and accomplishments have given him valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by recruiting firm owners and he's dedicated himself to helping others achieve success, providing guidance, coaching and strategies to overcome obstacles and create a thriving business.

Kortney Harmon [00:01:42]:

So throughout today's conversation, we'll delve into the world of recruiting and staffing, exploring the intricacies of running a successful firm and achieving scalable growth in today's competitive market. So without further ado, let's dive into our interview with Brad Wolfe. Brad, thank you so much for joining us and welcome to the show.

Brad Wolff [00:02:02]:

Thanks so much Courtney, I appreciate you inviting me.

Kortney Harmon [00:02:04]:

I am so excited for our conversation. For our listeners, we're going to be covering a range of topics today, including valuable lessons Brad has learned from his own experiences, common challenges faced by recruiting firm owners, operations leaders and strategies for reinventing and re energizing businesses, and so much more. So get ready to gain exclusive insights from an industry expert who has helped countless recruiting firms and owners achieve their desired results. Whether you're a seasoned professional, you're a CEO, operations leader, or just starting out to our business, this interview is going to be packed full of wisdom, actionable advice that will propel your businesses forward. So Brad, let's jump right into the conversation and discover the secrets to success in the dynamic world of recruiting. So let's start off in telling our audience a little bit more about you, who you are, your background, and what you currently do with the recruiters.

Brad Wolff [00:03:00]:

Coach. Sure. So again, my name is Brad Wolf, just like the Big Brad Wolf. So this way you'll remember me. And I started in the recruiting business in 1992, and I worked my first ten years in two large national firms where fortunately, I got tremendous training, terrific training, worked with some great people who I learned so much from. And then after ten years in that realm, I co founded two successful firms for the last 15 years. And then what happened is I realized that things became repetitive for me. It just wasn't exciting anymore because it was doing a lot of the same things that I knew how to do.

Brad Wolff [00:03:43]:

And I realized my real juice and excitement came from things like training and development, coaching, advising, solving difficult problems, things of that nature that I wasn't regularly doing. So in 2018, I took time and earned my coaching certification before I did that. And in 2018, I decided to launch as a coach, advisor, consultant, whatever term is, 100 terms for it. And what I realized is my real expertise was in the recruiting industry. I didn't have expertise outside the recruiting industry that I could draw on. AnD so really my passion was helping other owners, typically small to mid sized recruiting firms, helping them succeed, make more money, have less stress, enjoy more satisfaction, and integrate what they do and the income they make with a quality of life as opposed to making a lot of money, but being miserable and stressed. So that's what I've been doing for the last five years. I love it.

Brad Wolff [00:04:47]:

I'm learning some new things every day. Now. If we talk in 15 years, Courtney, I may tell you something different. I may tell you at this point, it's getting boring. So we can set a soft schedule for 15 years from now and let's regroup on this.

Kortney Harmon [00:05:02]:

That's wonderful. I love it. It is exciting. I'm a fan of learning and development, so I understand what you're talking about. So I get more excitement. And I'm just a coach by nature. I love to coach softball. Whatever it is, I'm going to help you try to develop.

Kortney Harmon [00:05:15]:

So I know exactly where you're coming from. So that's wonderful. So obviously the recruiters coaches where you are and what you're doing. So as someone who's founded two successful recruiting firms, what valuable lessons have you learned from your own experiences that could benefit other owners in our industry? People always want to know, what do I not know? Give me some insights. Give me the secrets. And there may not be a secret, but what are some lessons that you learned that you want to share or that you do share with others during your.

Brad Wolff [00:05:44]:

Sure. Well, that one topic can go on for this whole episode because there's so many things, but I'm just going to break it down into a few. A lot of it has a theme of don't get caught in protecting your ego with how smart and great you are. And that was one of the big lessons, has been one of the big lessons for me. And when I preface with that for the purpose of saying don't assume that your processes are very good. So I don't care how successful firm is, inevitably there are some things that are doing really well and some things they're not that they can improve on. So no matter how good Your processes are, there's room for improvement. Now, I would say by and large, most staffing and recruiting firms have a lot of dysfunctional processes.

Brad Wolff [00:06:31]:

And in all fairness, what happens is when someone starts their own firm, if they had experience, they basically take what they learned because that's what they know. And a lot of what they learn is not a great way of doing things. Another thing that happens is even if the way you're doing something now is great, it isn't going to continue being great. And a lot of the processes that people continue to pound away and dig their heels in on used to work really well. And one of the biggest difficulties in the world is to let go of something that used to be so successful. So that's why don't fall in love with your processes. In fact, if you're going to assume anything, assume there's got to be a better way. So that's one thing.

Brad Wolff [00:07:11]:

Another area that I think is very important, and earlier in my ownership career, I struggled with ego, in all fairness, is continue to get an outside view. Your own inside view is limited, very limited. And we keep repeating what we know and interpreting things through what we believe is true. So, for example, this podcast is an example of continuously getting an outside view. So don't get caught in your inside view. Continue to refresh and relearn and reprospectivize. It's probably not a word, but I'm going to use it anyway, what you're doing on a regular basis. So that's a second thing.

Brad Wolff [00:07:51]:

And I would say a third thing. People tend to, especially early stage, tend to try to do too much themselves. Look, there's never enough time to do everything. Never. There's always enough time to do the most important things. And you're not good at everything. I don't care how good you are, you're not good at everything. So it's important to, as much as possible, spend time doing the most important things and the things that you're good at and delegating, outsourcing, et cetera, those things you're not good at, because whatever you say yes to, you're also saying no to everything else.

Brad Wolff [00:08:27]:

So I see people trying to do way too much and it just fritters away their success.

Kortney Harmon [00:08:32]:

I think that's great. I really loved what you said. One thing we really focus on, obviously here on the show, is foundational processes, and it really comes down to your people learning that are new to your organization as well as continue to learn with your ever changing processes. We did an episode on change management, and that's one thing. Sometimes people, they don't think about, well, it's going to be this way. How many times? I don't want you to give me an exact number, but I'm going to guess you've heard this too, is, well, we've done it this way for 30 years. It's working.

Brad Wolff [00:09:01]:

I've actually heard it 7216 times because I keep a note every time I hear it.

Kortney Harmon [00:09:08]:

Isn't that. That's funny. I love that. And it's interesting. And to think about changing, our market's changing today, our technology is changing for tomorrow, and we have to figure out how all of that stuff plays into our business. So you're never going to be the same person three months from now, six months from now in your organization. And coming to that realization is going to be the best step forward for you as a business leader.

Brad Wolff [00:09:31]:


Kortney Harmon [00:09:33]:

I love it. Now, based on all the good advice that you can give and your 28 years of experience in our industry, what are some common challenges or obstacles that recruiting firm owners face when trying to grow their business? Growth is a common conversation and a topic right now because of our market cycle, grow or die, or however you want to see it. But based on that, what are some challenges that you see when they do try to grow their business? What are some things that stop them dead in their tracks?

Brad Wolff [00:10:01]:

Great question. So this whole area, I just call it business development. That's the category I put it in. And this area caused a lot of confusion because people tend to put it into one category as if it's one thing and it's actually a number of things that layer together. So when I say that, first of alL, sales strategies are not marketing strategies, and recruiting firms often confuse that. So let me distinguish that sales is everything you do, one to one, whether it's electronic or face to face or telephone or whatever it is, it's a one to one communication. Marketing is everything else, where it's really more on a mass basis. Those are two very different items.

Brad Wolff [00:10:51]:

I think what's happened is anytime there's a trend and then it starts getting some traction, people tend to jump on the trend and kind of discard the other things that aren't in that trend, even though some of those other things are extremely important and helpful. So I think one of the trends that people have jumped on, which is an important thing to do, is the marketing. Lead generation automation. There's a lot of names that fit in related to it. It is important. It's very important. But I think in doing that, so many of them have forgotten that there's so many, what I call stealth sales strategies, where you can leverage relationships and information. I almost never, ever meet anyone who is doing that well.

Brad Wolff [00:11:40]:

They may do one thing well, but there's three or four other things that they're not doing because they just don't know. So that's a lot of low hanging fruit. It's like a green pasture that's not being harvested. Okay. So that's a big thing, is people are not getting the value out of relationships and information that they can. Now, the other piece of business development is the marketing piece. Let's call it lead generation. Very important.

Brad Wolff [00:12:05]:

The thing is, most people are not doing it effectively. So, for example, everyone says, well, you just got to get on LinkedIn. You got to be more active on LinkedIn. Well, great. But that's not specific. What does that mean? So I think there's some fundamentals with LinkedIn. Yes, LinkedIn is important if your audience is on LinkedIn. Occasion, I talk to someone and their audience is just not on LinkedIn.

Brad Wolff [00:12:26]:

In which case, don't emphasize LinkedIn. You got to go where your audience is. It's that simple. So with LinkedIn, it's really important that you upgrade your profile to stand out and speak directly to your audience, rather than being general. That's one thing. You need to have a way to build your connections in a way that encourages them to connect, rather than be concerned that you're a salesperson. When they connect, you need to thank them a day later, not right away, a day or two later, and not pounce. Connect and Pounce is a very poor strategy for everyone that says, yes, I want to talk to you.

Brad Wolff [00:13:04]:

You're alienating ten or more, which is a bad business development strategy. Okay, active posting of information of value, doing some continuation of messaging that's engaging but not too salesy. Those are some things with LinkedIn that have some value, but some people get stuck in LinkedIn and they forget that email is critical. Comes down to basic math. So let's say if you're doing a decent job of LinkedIn connection, 20% are connecting with you, right? Somewhere around that. So if 20% are connecting, 80% aren't. So you don't have a way to keep in contact in front of those 80%. You're only working on your 20%.

Brad Wolff [00:13:47]:

With email, you can be out in front of people whether they connect or not, and you're just not sending them the same content. Sometimes there may be some crossover, but for the most part you're not. But it actually gives you a way that you can build a much bigger list. And you need to have a content strategy that's actually engaging. So you can't just send them an MPC, a most marketable campaign every time. You can't just check in, hey, how are you doing? You can't just send the same articles. You've got to have a content strategy that is really relevant to them and isn't the same old stuff everyone else is doing. So when you add the sales strategies, with the marketing strategies, it incorporates LinkedIn, it incorporates email, you're able to have a comprehensive business development strategy.

Brad Wolff [00:14:38]:

And it's the regular continuation of this with enough frequency, but not too much frequency, that'll tend to build Top of mind awareness, which psychologically builds trust and credibility. That translates into people coming to you and you being able to approach people that are engaging with your content and introduce yourself and it's no longer a cold call.

Kortney Harmon [00:15:00]:

Yes, I love this, Brad. I love this so much. And ironically, and I know you probably don't know this, we actually did an episode, I think it's episode nine. It's called Build Trust and Open Doors, and it is our multi channel touch point strategy. So I love that you brought this up. I didn't pay you to do this by any means either. So I love that.

Brad Wolff [00:15:21]:

I didn't receive payment yet.

Kortney Harmon [00:15:23]:

Checks in the mail. Right? I love it. But being able to get those, you're right, there's only so much of inbound versus outbound. And being able to track those in your system to know where you are in the process, I think is so key because sometimes that gets lost upon us. We forget what voicemail we're leaving. We forget how many times we've reached out to them. And it's just like set it and forget it. Or guess what? I didn't follow up with them.

Kortney Harmon [00:15:47]:

So I love that you put such a focus on that.

Brad Wolff [00:15:50]:

Yeah, it's a science. You've got to make it a science. You've got to track things. You've got to review and identify what's working and not, you've got to tweak and test what's not working. It's a science. If you just think you're going to wing it and just throw stuff out there, yes, you may get some business, but you're going to get a fraction of what you could get. So people have a lot of false notions and expectations when it comes to marketing.

Kortney Harmon [00:16:13]:

Yeah, I love that. And that's a really, I mean, honestly, this obstacle is huge for us right now because we as staffing and recruiting leaders have had job orders that we couldn't fill. They were pounding down our door, we weren't able to fill them. It's not a new muscle, but it's a muscle that has gotten weak over the years that we need to restrengthen and we really need to push our teams to what that new process is because again, haven't had to do it in two to three years. So let's refocus on that strategy. Let's refocus on the foundation to make sure we're doing it right, to include the pieces of AI and technology and using our systems so they all talk together and doing it the right way.

Brad Wolff [00:16:51]:


Kortney Harmon [00:16:52]:

Amazing. All right, good advice. Let's talk about what strategies or approaches do you recommend to firms for them to see growth and scalability and success in the recruiting industry? Again, that's the hot topic. So what do you advise your people to do?

Brad Wolff [00:17:09]:

There's a few questions there in that. Okay, so let's go to growth first.

Kortney Harmon [00:17:13]:


Brad Wolff [00:17:13]:

So when I think of growth, I'm talking about increasing quality clients and revenue. And so what I just spoke about with regard to adding stealth sales strategies that people aren't doing, plus an effective marketing program, just because you're marketing doesn't mean effective, are the things that lead to the growth. Okay. So I want to separate that from scalability. Just because you're growing doesn't mean you're scaled. So on the scalability piece, scalability just means you're duplicating what works. Just think about you got something that works and you can continue to multiply and duplicate, which means you got to have something that works. You can't scale what doesn't work.

Brad Wolff [00:17:54]:

So number one, it starts with processes. So I regularly talk to people. They think scaling is about hiring a bunch of people. And the more people to hire, the more problems and the lower their profitability is. Because when you have ineffective processes, the more people you add, the more you multiply. Ineffective processes, the more chaos you create, the more candidates and clients you alienate. So if you're hiring people and you haven't created an effective machine that works when you're smaller, I. E.

Brad Wolff [00:18:26]:

Processes and technology, then I don't know how you're going to scale. I mean, if you can, I'd like to hear about it. It'd be interesting for me to learn what you did. I just haven't seen it work. So you've got to get those process, what I call best practice processes. And this business is really simple in a way. If you break it down, you've got business development, which we talked about. You got candidate delivery and you got business management.

Brad Wolff [00:18:51]:

Those are your three basic parts, which quite frankly is the same with any business. It's just the nuances of recruiting are different. So on the technology side, I think people get lost on what technology is about. Technology really fits into processes because the purpose of technology is just to make a process more efficient. So technology has no inherent value outside of making a process work better and faster and cheaper. Technology for technology's sake doesn't do anything for you. It's just another tool that you're paying for that you're not using properly. And the people side of the business, because you got people, processes and technology, you got people, process and technology, you've got to have the right processes and technology to get the people side right.

Brad Wolff [00:19:31]:

So at the end of the day, you're dealing with processes and technology first and getting that effective on everything you do. Because if you think you're just going to hire a bunch of people and a decent percentage are going to work out and you're just going to grow and you're going to hug and sing Kumbaya, good luck. I just haven't either.

Kortney Harmon [00:19:54]:

No. So you said something that really, that I've been talking about a lot, actually. So you said technology. No, we're not singing Kumbaya. That's not something, that's my mo. But I love that you talked about technology and the scalability. Oftentimes I've seen organizations that are like, they have just this do more mentality, right? They think more people doing more things, activities really drive the outcome for more growth, more scalability. But in reality, they're missing the missing link between.

Kortney Harmon [00:20:25]:

It's not necessarily the do more mentality. It's figuring out what activities are driving better results and understanding your ratio reporting. And a lot of times, like you said, you had a top producer that decided to open up their own firm, and they don't necessarily know how to coach other people to that. Have you seen that too?

Brad Wolff [00:20:41]:

Oh, it's common. You see, being a high producing recruiter does not help you build a recruiting firm in some way. That mentality can actually get in your way. Because if it's just you as a high producing recruiter, you're not building a firm, you're just building up your own practice. There's a difference. So you've got to shift the mentality of what you can do and make it about what you can do to prop other people up so they can duplicate what you can do and you don't even need them to be. It's not about having a bunch of million plus dollar billers. It's about having a team of very good, profitable builders.

Brad Wolff [00:21:20]:

I'd rather have $400,000 billers than two $1 million bills. You can grow with that. You can get better with that. And if one leaves, you're not Sol. So it's about helping good people become better with them, realizing that they're better working with you than they would be on their own. That's how you scale a firm.

Kortney Harmon [00:21:41]:

Yes. And being able to teach that growth. And where they might be falling short with that marketing plan. They might be emailing the heck out of talent that they're reaching out to, but they might not get beginning response. What are you saying? How can we make that better? Having someone and taking them under your wing is definitely going to build that retention with an organization. So I love that you said that.

Brad Wolff [00:22:00]:


Kortney Harmon [00:22:01]:

So whenever you're working with firms and owners or operations leaders, how do you reinvent and reenergize their business to make more money while reducing stress? Obviously, it's a part of our business, especially in a market like we're facing today. So what do you do to get them all on the same page, whether it's that Kumbaya or whatever we're talking about, but how do you get them reinvested in the business? Because let's face it, those do help your retention long term. It keeps your organization thriving, and it makes people want to work with you and for you.

Brad Wolff [00:22:32]:

Great question. So the process to me is a simple process. First thing I do is I help them identify what are the specific problems that are getting in the way of the success. And usually people are good at identifying the problem. They don't understand the core root behind it, but they can tell you this is a problem, that's a problem. But people are usually good, I'm going to say, when they identify a problem, identifying symptoms, when I say problem, they're going to go to their symptom. That's not the underlying problem, but that's okay. People will tell you what's not working.

Brad Wolff [00:23:03]:

Human beings are very naturally good at telling you what's not working. That's why the word complaint is so commonly used. So I basically understand, what are their key complaints and what is it costing? And then we talk about, well, what outcomes do you want instead of those complaints or problems? What impact would that have? Okay, and then what we do is then I'm able to then prioritize the problems based on what the impact the cost is to them and go to work on each problem. And the way we solve these problems is at this point, and I actually have, over 30 years in this business, I've learned a lot of things through a ton of pain, my own and client and other clients. Okay? So with that, I've developed processes, tools, and solutions to the problems that people deal with in this business, because here's the good news, and it's what allows me to be successful. Quite frankly, there's only a few problems out there. Any business has three to five problems and no one's inventing new ones. It appears they're inventing new ones, but it's just another one of those three to five that is appearing different.

Brad Wolff [00:24:14]:

But it's the same thing. So all I've needed to do is become really good at solving those three to five problems. And almost never does someone ever present a problem that isn't, oh, I've helped solve that one many times. About once every five years, someone says something. I'm like, no, I actually haven't heard that before.

Kortney Harmon [00:24:32]:

And that may happen with ever changing technology. I foresee this is going to be something that, well, okay, track GPT is a big conversation. Like, how do you use that? That's not something that we had before in the past, but, okay, how can we make it your superpower?

Brad Wolff [00:24:46]:

So every now and then, but it still falls into the issue of, how do you incorporate a tool that everyone seems to be in love with? So it falls into that category. But just initially, usually they'll tell me something. They're like, oh, yeah, that's common. Let's talk about how to solve it. Sometimes they say something. I'm like, oh, I haven't heard that one before, let's talk about it. But rarely does that happen. But then when we break it down, at the end of the day, it falls into, inevitably, one of the three to five categories.

Brad Wolff [00:25:11]:

So then basically what I do is I have a whole library of processes, tools and solutions and then I just work with them to customize it to them. Because one size does not fit all with anything.

Kortney Harmon [00:25:23]:


Brad Wolff [00:25:24]:

So anything needs to be customized for that individual based on their personality, their company size, their audience, their past experience, what they're already doing. It needs to be customized to fit them rather than, here's what I recommend you do. Just do it.

Kortney Harmon [00:25:37]:

Yeah, I love that.

Brad Wolff [00:25:39]:

That's not a good way to implement.

Kortney Harmon [00:25:40]:

Our industries are so different, whether it's your vertical, whether it's your size. I think that only makes sense to be able to help them with their own personal growth. It's not a can fit.

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Kortney Harmon [00:27:00]:

So do you think that whenever it comes to growth faster, smarter growth for an organization, do you think it ties back into their technologies? So my brain follow it for a second. It's maybe finding candidates faster, tracking processes easier, measuring metrics better. Do you think that ties into a technology at all? I know we're essentially talking about the methodology side. Does that make sense?

Brad Wolff [00:27:24]:

Right. One of the things that I hit up front is the ATS. So when I start working with someone, I get an inventory of all of their operating processes because I get a 360 deg view. I know everything that's going on, what's working well, what's not. So I already go in there. It's kind of like a physician where you already have all these tests and you already can see what's going on. So I already start where I already know the cards and I just can see these cards are not working while these aren't. So I can go in there and we can get really fast progress because we know where everything's going on.

Brad Wolff [00:27:54]:

There's no mysteries. Not that there's no mysteries, but I know the key areas, what's working, what's not working and why. So when it comes to the candidate recruiting area, I have a step by step process to implement best practices in candidate recruiting. Everything from sourcing all the way to placing and follow up on the placement and everything else. The first thing I cover is ATS best practices. It's amazing. Very rarely do I start working with a firm where they're using their ATs as well as they can be. They're usually not using it properly and that causes so much friction because if you use the ATS just to be a database, to keep information, as opposed to a strategic way that you can quickly identify the people that you want, get messages out and get the process going, you're not using your ATS properly.

Kortney Harmon [00:28:42]:

I'm going to steer you a little bit away. What are some common challenges when it comes to ATS, of what you see people doing wrong? You said very rarely are they using it right. Whenever you see maybe, I don't know if there's three to five with ATS, but what do you see the most common things of where people can do better?

Brad Wolff [00:28:58]:

Okay, great question. So I'm a big believer in tagging. And when I say tagging, it means a way to identify or segment different areas of information. So where someone's geographical location is, is a tag. What's their functional title? Are they a VP of finance? Are they a CFO? Are they a VP of sales? That's their functional title. What skills? Key skills they have that are marketable. What key technologies do they have that's marketable? Are they open to just working in an office? Are they only demand remote or are they hybrid? What is their dollar? All these things are fields that need to be properly tagged and identified. So then finding people, when you have a search and you want to find your candidates, all you need to do is pull up those tagged items and you real quickly could say, here are my 17 people to start with.

Brad Wolff [00:29:51]:

Don't do resume searches because your database grows all these keywords people have on there, or they don't have it. It doesn't tell you any necessarily. It just becomes a nightmare as your database grows. So you need to tag properly. That's one thing that people miss. Rarely are they tagging properly. They just put people in and hope that they'll pull them up magically. Another thing is you need to use fixed drop down menus.

Brad Wolff [00:30:15]:

You need to have someone who's basically the administrator that controls the drop down menus. Let me explain what I mean. If you let people type in what they want on those tags, I'm going to type something different every time. I'm going to put VP finance today, tomorrow I'm going to put Vice President finance the next day. I'm going to put V Dot, period. Finn. I am going to create the biggest nightmare and I'm not going to be able to know how to pull it up. And then everyone has their own way of thinking and communicating.

Brad Wolff [00:30:48]:

And for any one area, you're going to have 33,000 tags that are inconsistently used. Do yourself a favor. You have to choose from forced selection. You can add to it, but it has to be chosen from the menu. No one can just type what they want in there. Big issue.

Kortney Harmon [00:31:04]:

That's great advice. Because when it comes to bullying, searching our jobs require speed to be able to fill the candidate or the jobs faster. So it's time to fill. Whenever you're literally making every bullion search underneath the sun and you forget one, you're going to forget the best candidate out there. Guaranteed. It happens every time.

Brad Wolff [00:31:21]:

Yeah, it's a nightmare. It's all that friction you create by redoing work that was never done right. Third thing is you want to have, whether you call it job, when candidates are in the job order, they're in various stages of the process. Whether you call that stages, workflows, different terminology. So, for example, when someone comes into the first gets put in the job, they're a new candidate, you send them messaging, there's outreach, you interview them, they've been interviewed, you submit them, they've been submitted, you're setting up an interview, you're confirmed. Interview. There's all these different stages. Set up these various stages and get it somewhat micro so that each possible stage is represented.

Brad Wolff [00:32:06]:

The reason I say that is. So, for example, if you have someone that you're setting up an interview and you don't have stages confirmed with the candidate, confirmed with the client, confirmed on both ends, interviewed, waiting information from the candidate, interviewed, waiting feedback from the client, what happens is you have to keep on going in there and reviewing your notes to find out where you are. You should be able to look at the job and know exactly where everyone is. It's more work up front, but when you can look at a job and you don't have to sit there and go, oh, my God, what is it? And then the account manager calls the recruiter and say, hey, look, where are we with Billy Bob? And so much time and effort is lost trying to recreate and reposition where you are in the process. So that's the third area of proper ATS usage.

Kortney Harmon [00:32:51]:

I love that those are all such amazing things and things that I've seen, too. And that even works with your morning workflows or your morning meetings, whether it's Monday or whatever you're doing. For accountability wise, it's so much easier to see. I have 22 candidates in process. Five are interviewing, two are out for plate. Like, you can do this high level, and it just makes our jobs faster. Not only you as operating a desk, but you operating the company as well.

Brad Wolff [00:33:16]:

The devil and the dollars are in the details. They're not in the concept. And that's where a lot of owners struggle because a lot of them tend to be very big picture idea oriented, and that's important. But if you don't get the details right, you can't execute and you create nightmares.

Kortney Harmon [00:33:31]:

And if it's not in the system, it didn't happen. That's what I like to say.

Brad Wolff [00:33:34]:

That expression is one of the truest expressions in the industry. It didn't happen. If it's just not documented.

Kortney Harmon [00:33:39]:

I love it. Okay, so you talked about some things with the ATS. Let's talk about some specific examples of maybe how you've helped recruiting firm owners stand out from their competitors, feel more valued, haven't increased their profitability, while reducing stress, whatever that looks like. How have you done that? I have a client.

Brad Wolff [00:33:58]:

They're in the space of technology sales placement.

Kortney Harmon [00:34:03]:


Brad Wolff [00:34:04]:

And they came to me and they were struggling. They were frustrated. They're working 50, 60 hours a week. Their return on investment is very low. They're making some money, but it's minimal compared to the effort they're putting in. They were just frustrated. And they're like, I feel like I'm doing everything right. Nothing's working.

Brad Wolff [00:34:22]:

So what I did is starting with the sales process. I start with the things that are the highest priority that we can fix the quickest. I help them fix their sales process. Let me tell you specifically what I mean by that. So they were just taking anyone that wanted to work with them they would just take the job, order in and work on it. They weren't filling most of their jobs. Their fill ratio is really low because they were working on jobs that weren't fillable and or with clients that weren't committed and were working with other recruiters and they were just a commodity. So I helped them understand you need to know up front what's going on so that you don't get in there if it's not a job that you can work on yourself and you're not just another one taking swings.

Brad Wolff [00:35:02]:

So that's one piece. Second piece is they weren't working on retained with exclusive. So I taught them how to get upfront retainers so they're not losing money on searches and they're working with clients that are committed to them rather than just involved and using them. Third thing, I helped them raise their average fee from 17 five to 40,000 because what they were doing, they're in sales and these people, a lot of their compensation was incentive based and they were charging them based on the base.

Kortney Harmon [00:35:35]:

That's such a big change. Oh, my gosh.

Brad Wolff [00:35:37]:

I thought that's what you do and that's what the client wanted to do for obvious reasons.

Kortney Harmon [00:35:40]:


Brad Wolff [00:35:40]:

Obviously, if you're working with the clients that value you and you're positioning yourself as a trusted advisor by how you approach, how you communicate with them, bringing them along the process in a way that it's clear that you're not. Like the other recruiting firms, they were able to sign up clients where they based the fee on total expected compensation, ote rather than on base. So they were able to triple, almost triple, go from 17 five to 40,000 in their fee. So they fixed the sales part. That was one piece. The recruiting piece was a nightmare. Very dysfunctional. Their process was just, they were producing great candidates, but they were doing five to eight times more work than they needed to.

Brad Wolff [00:36:25]:

So what it translated into, Courtney, is a recruiter was only able to handle two job offers. That's it per recruiter. And the recruiter is working 50, 60 hours a week because their process was just so ridiculously complicated and inefficient. So I restructured their recruiting process so that they can get the same results. But now the average recruiter can carry four or more jobs and work 40, 45 hours a week and produce the same results. So we were able to basically double the throughput and reduce all this burnout and frustration that recruiting staff had. And then on the marketing side, they had some issues. Their name, their branding and their marketing messaging.

Brad Wolff [00:37:07]:

So I made recommendations so that they ended up changing their company name, rebranding, getting a new website, and changing their marketing messaging to resonate with their target audience rather than what they were doing, and stopped doing the things that wasn't working because they were doing a lot of things that once we measured it, wasn't producing a good ROI. So then they were able to really have their marketing down plus and then teaching them the stealth sales strategy. So they're leveraging information and resources. So within six months they were able to triple their revenue and they enjoyed their jobs then because they were regularly successful and they weren't killing themselves working ridiculous hours to compensate for inefficiencies.

Kortney Harmon [00:37:45]:

The small things can add up. Now, I want to go back to one thing you said, Brad. You talked about contingency recruiting to retained, and I love this. This is something that I talk with my offices about in my past life as well. But talk to me about how do you help recruiting firms transition from contingency to retained? And was there much convincing? Because sometimes people don't think that they can do it. But what advantages does that shift bring in terms of overall success? I know it, but I think this is definitely something that needs more conversation. So I love your perspective on it.

Brad Wolff [00:38:19]:

So there's a few questions in there, as I understand it.

Kortney Harmon [00:38:21]:


Brad Wolff [00:38:22]:

First of all, when you move from contingency to retain, you change everything because you're working with committed clients and you're not losing money on searches. One of the big problems in contingency, if you don't have a high fill ratio, you're regularly losing money by working on the behalf of your other people. And it just creates frustration, lack of confidence and burnout. So it changes the game completely on that. As far as making the move, initially, everyone's scared. And I tell my clients, hey, look, if you need to put on adult divers when you start this, I don't care, do whatever you need to do. Because sometimes they're a bit distressed at the concept. Oh my gosh.

Brad Wolff [00:38:58]:

Understandably. Okay. But then I tell them what so far is still true. 100% of the people, I have a course that I've developed and I just run my clients through the course on my website. 100% of my clients that have done this course have successfully transitioned. That doesn't mean 100% of the time they work retain. There's times that they may decide, I'm going to work contingently with an exclusive or I'm going to take this job order because I have other job orders like it. I'm not going to do any work on it.

Brad Wolff [00:39:25]:

But if I have any candidates I'm submitting for this that fit, I'm just going to submit them. But I'm not going to do any proactive efforts. But they've transformed their business. 100% of them have. So part. And basically the premise of the course is just basic humanist psychology. And here's the premise. Literally, it's this.

Brad Wolff [00:39:44]:

You can get anyone to do anything if they understand why it's in their own best interest. I've created a step by step process that just moves them from start to finish along a path that makes it clear, oh yeah, this is what I want. So I only work contingency, they May 1 say. And then it brings along a path of questions and education where the client's like, oh, so if I can have the best of contingency and the best of traditional retain in something that gives me the best of both without the disadvantages, well, yeah, that's what I want. Doesn't mean every one of them is going to do it. But if you're not saying no regularly, then you're taking in a lot of bad clients and hurting your business. So that's basically how this works. And it's amazing because I regularly have clients that aren't very assertive, aren't very confident, and I just say, follow the framework and just read off the framework.

Brad Wolff [00:40:41]:

Literally just do that. And then they email me afterwards. I go, I just got a $7,500 retainer. I couldn't believe it. The client just said, okay, that makes sense. And they were just like freaked out. And it was like all you did was bring them along a path. They weren't doing this before because no one ever brought them along the path of questions and framing that they're like, oh, this is a better way to work.

Brad Wolff [00:41:03]:

It's hilarious because once they realize that, they're like, oh my God, why wasn't I doing this? Because you should learn how.

Kortney Harmon [00:41:09]:

Who doesn't want to work with clients that are just committed to you? That's one of my favorite things. I love it.

Brad Wolff [00:41:14]:

Masochist or sadist or whatever. They are like pain. If you like pain and suffering, you're probably not going to be one of my clients.

Kortney Harmon [00:41:24]:

No glutton for punishments here. I understand.

Brad Wolff [00:41:26]:

No, I don't take those on. If you want to suffer and get frustrated, you can do that without my help.

Kortney Harmon [00:41:33]:

Yep. I love it. Brad, I have one more question before I let you go today. So as an expert in the industry, what trends or emerging practices do you see that maybe are reshaping the recruiting and staffing landscape? And how do you help your clients adapt to the changes for continued growth?

Brad Wolff [00:41:52]:

Great question, first of all, on the issue of emerging trends and things like that. Look, there's always new emerging trends and they come and go. Usually what happens is they peak real fast. All of a sudden everyone jumps on the bandwagon. And initially they start working. And then because everyone's doing it, it reaches a point of old and frustrating to the audience, your customer base, and then people start getting away. A lot of people are misusing it, et cetera. I remember when mass emails worked back in the early 2000s, mid 2000s, we could just blast out a bunch of mass email.

Brad Wolff [00:42:26]:

It was like creating job orders. Okay, no, doesn't work that way anymore. So I look at trends that way. Now. The biggest thing is AI. I mean, that's like the big one. And look, it's important to understand what's going on and figure out how to best use it without abusing it. That's the thing, because it's the old expression, give a kid a hammer and all of a sudden everything in the world needs becomes a nail.

Brad Wolff [00:42:51]:

So the key with anything, if you want to adapt, in my opinion, is a very simple process. First you get clear on what the problems you're having are. Here's my struggles, here's the problems. Then you get clear, what are the outcomes? What do I want to be able to do? What are the end results that I want? Then you need to write this stuff down. If you try to do it in your head, it's never going to work. The head is not a good way to solve problems, a good way to create problems. Whiteboard. I mean, whatever, you need to look at it, not look through it.

Brad Wolff [00:43:18]:

So you need to look at that and then come up with some approaches that make sense and talk it through and think it through. Getting outside help and an outside perspective can be very helpful. Then you need to test approaches and you need to measure the results. If you don't measure results, then anything you get is just guesswork. And it's not a science. You've got to use a scientific method if you want to adapt quickly and effectively. And it's very clear you have approach, which is a hypothesis. You test the approach, you measure the results, and then you go back and review, and then you come up with your conclusions or your explanations of why things worked and why they didn't.

Brad Wolff [00:43:55]:

And then you expand what worked and you tweak what didn't based on what you learned. And then you do it again and then you keep repeating that process. That's how you intentionally adapt to any challenge. It doesn't matter what the challenge is.

Kortney Harmon [00:44:08]:

Love that. Simple, simple. It's the kiss method, right? I love it.

Brad Wolff [00:44:13]:


Kortney Harmon [00:44:13]:

Well, Brad, thank you so much for joining us today. In closing, I want to express my gratitude to you and sharing your wealth of knowledge and expertise in our talent industry. You've provided us with some invaluable insights and actionable advice. That's my favorite part. Something that you can do and change. And it doesn't have to be all at once. Those little things can truly make a difference in our businesses. So as recruiting firm owners and leaders, it's crucial to reflect on the lessons you're hearing, not only from you, but from others'experiences, and apply them to your own journeys.

Kortney Harmon [00:44:45]:

Understand the common challenges, obstacles faced by the industry in general and we can better equip ourselves for growth and success. So throughout this conversation, Brad highlighted some strategies approaches for reinventing and re energizing our businesses. Focusing on foundational pieces that can strengthen your foundation of your business and propel you to success, especially in today's ever evolving market. So by embracing these insights, we can reduce the stress of your teams, we can increase your profitability, and you can make smarter decisions for faster growth for your organization. So I hope for our listeners, this interview provided you with a fresh perspective and practical takeaways to implement with your own recruiting firms. Remember, the journey to achieving your desired results may have its roadblocks.

Brad Wolff [00:45:33]:

It will have its roadblocks. There's no may about it.

Kortney Harmon [00:45:36]:

I guarantee it absolutely will. But knowledge and guidance shared by you also today will help you overcome any challenges that come in your way. So thank you, Brad, for being with us today. I appreciate your knowledge very much and.

Brad Wolff [00:45:50]:

I really appreciate you taking the time and inviting me on the podcast and asking me really excellent questions that went to the they were not easy. You didn't give me softball pitches. I'm a little frustrated with you, Courtney. I was expecting some softball pitches. I don't know that I got one. Maybe tell me a little bit about your background. Other than that, I mean, you were throwing me curves, you were throwing me sliders. I don't know, I'm scared to get back on.

Kortney Harmon [00:46:14]:

It was great insights for our listeners. Speaking of that, thank you for our listeners for joining this episode. Your support and engagement really means the world to us. So we strive to continue to bring you valuable content, valuable people to give you insights that fuels your success. So thank you once again for joining our industry Spotlight episode, and we look forward to bringing you more inspiring conversations like this one with industry experts in the future. So until next time, keep striving, keep growing, and keep reaching new heights in the world of recruiting and staffing. I'm Courtney Harmon with Crit. Thanks for joining us for this episode of Industry Spotlight, a new series from the full Desk Experience.

Kortney Harmon [00:46:56]:

New episodes will be dropping monthly. Be sure you're subscribed to our podcast so you can catch the next Industry Spotlight episode and all episodes of the full desk experience here or wherever you listen.
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