Losing weight is the inevitable go-to-goal of so many people, myself included. Our society is pretty much obsessed with the concept. We witness it every January when we all fall into the “new year, new you” chaos and join the gym with everyone else in the area. It comes up again before big life events like weddings, family reunions, etc. It seems like people are always looking for a way to be more fit.

Want proof? Walk down the magazine aisle at the grocery store and you’ll see an array of headlines with articles touting new diet plans and people’s “100 pound weight loss strategy”. Even men’s fitness magazines are starting to talk about losing weight. It makes sense, almost 35% of the US population is obese.

There are also 135 million results for diets on Google. It’s one of the most searched phrases in Europe and the United States. People will try everything from Atkins to the Subway diet to juice cleanses just to lose a couple of pounds and have their “perfect body.” These diets test our willpower, our stamina and even our friendships once we go into full on hangry mode.

Yes, hanger is a real thing (hunger anger), but I digress.

The thing is, diet alone doesn’t deliver on that “perfect” vision.  It doesn’t make or break the outcome when losing weight is the goal. When all of the strategies boil down, it really comes to the motivation of the person losing the weight. It’s about what drives them every day for months that really delivers the outcomes people are looking for. It’s the mothers who are out of breath trying to catch up to their toddler on the playground and don’t want to miss moments with their kids. It’s the man who recently had a heart attack and wants to see his children graduate from college. They’re motivated and they succeed.

Motivation is what drives us. It’s what pushes us when we don’t want to get out of bed, when we’re not ready for change and we just don’t want to keep going. Motivation is the most important factor in persuasion and the technique that’s most often forgotten when we as recruiters start talking to candidates. Why? Well, I have no idea.

Now What Y’all Wanna Do?

During my agency days, I had a client desperately seeking a systems administrator with scripting experience on a Sun Solaris Unix based system in a medical environment. So basically, a needle in a needle stack for a city like Phoenix. It was going to be a challenging to say the very least, yet I’m always up for a good challenge.

I placed the position online with the requisite job boards I had at my disposal, knowing full well the post and pray method was not going to be the approach that was going to get me that placement. You have to cover your bases in recruiting so I figured, what the hell. Deep down, I knew I needed a different methodology for this role, something more out of the box. 

Note, this was way before discovering the great Glen Cathey’s website or conversations at a beach bar with Stacy Zapar about LinkedIn. Rather, this was a straight outta Compton search doing cold calling into companies.  I started with a list of a few companies that used this type of technology and started to call them when it happened.

A current contractor that was working for me called with a referral. You see, I told all of my contractors that if they ever hear a coworker (that didn’t work for me, of course) upset with their situation to give me a call.  I always paid good referral money and they knew it, so I did get good recommendations that usually panned out. Back to the motivation thing – that was theirs. More money, more referrals. 

This Is For My Homey

Ted, was the stereotypical computer geek.  The guy was like Melvin from the movie Office Space. Although he was a tad thinner, he had the mustache and everything.  A big lug of a man that was like an action figure for nerds, complete with pocket protector and calculator watch.  If you haven’t seen the movie, Melvin was motivated by his red stapler. It became a staple joke for those of us who loved the irony of the movie, working in our own cube farms.

So back to the candidate. I took the time to ask Ted the usual recruiting questions – what was his situation, was he ok with the commute, etc.  I finally ended with the salary negotiation. “So where are you at and where do you need to be in your financial situation?” I asked. He told me that frankly, it was not money that motivated him as much as a larger monitor and an office with natural light.

I paused. “I’m confused” I said because, well, I was. Why would it not be about money. It is always about money, right? Yes, I was still the naive recruiter who believed it was all about money back then. Nope, not this time. See, Ted was legally blind and had to wear coke bottle glasses to see. If he had a larger monitor, he could see the code more easily, helping him do his job better. The company he was with didn’t see the value in getting him one so he wanted out. We talked more about the monitor and environment he’d need to make a change and we went our separate ways.

GEM Recruiting AI

Light bulb moment. Two weeks before I had done a site meeting and office tour with my client and I saw where the future employee would be sitting. It was a spacious room with a window and a gigantic monitor.  The monitor was, in fact, the biggest screen made and there were even two of them so there would be a reduction of open windows and systems to have to switch back and forth from. I knew I had this hire.

It’s All About the Benjamins: Motivation, Say What?

The meeting was set within twenty-four hours of sending the first email. Ted would be meeting with the hiring manager and two other coders that would be on his team.  I warned them about his, well peculiar is the nicest way of saying it, demeanor.  The manager responded saying he was a programmer so he was used to it.

However, I received a call from the manager in the middle of the interview.

I panicked. Knowing your candidate is supposed to be in the middle of a meeting with a manager who is now calling you adds up to heart palpitations. But it was good news. He only had one question for me: how do we get him? I laughed in relief. I explained that salary was not the issue here nor title. If they wanted to close him right then and there, just walk him over to the office that he would be sitting in – the one with the big monitors and window. The manager – confused, and rightly so, said: “Um, ok, sure then, I will call you back when we get back to my office.”

20 minutes of hand wrangling torture later, I got a call from the hiring manager telling me he had done what I had asked. He took Ted to the office. Ted’s immediate response was: “When can I start?.” Ted also called me as he was leaving and told me the same thing. I could hear him smiling through the phone.  I let him know they were expecting him on Monday for his first day, and I was starting the paperwork. I was ecstatic, as you might expect.

See, that was a win for so many reasons and most importantly for the lesson learned. As recruiters, we have to know how to ask the right questions that will lead us to the motivation of a candidate – not just checking boxes and using interview score cards.  I know the “thought leaders” and RPO’s always preach that it’s the money, but that’s just not true. You need to dig in and find out what it is that they really need.  

That is what I suppose most of us try to do but end up bothering people, and even worse – spamming them, just to fill a role. We call and never take the time to listen to them and learn what’s going on in their lives because we’re so obsessed with following the standard format instead of the thought process it takes to find out simply what motivates them.

I have hired people that wanted less travel, shorter commute, better projects – hell even healthcare plans that suited their kids, who never pushed on salary. It just wasn’t their bottom line. What motivates us to do things, like taking a new role, is often interspersed with passion, feeling, and, sometimes, just sometimes, it only takes a monitor and a window; there is only one trick, it’s called asking then listening, doing that can be the greatest thing you do. #truestory.

Derek ZellerAbout the Author: Derek Zeller draws from over 16 years in the recruiting industry. The last 11 years he has been involved with federal government recruiting specializing within the cleared Intel space under OFCCP compliance. He is currently serves as Technical Recruiting Lead at Comscore.

He has experience with both third party agency and in-house recruiting for multiple disciplines and technologies. Using out-of-the-box tactics and strategies to identify and engage talent, he has had significant experience in building referral and social media programs, the implementation of Applicant Tracking Systems, technology evaluation, and the development of sourcing, employment branding, military and college recruiting strategies.

You can read his thoughts on RecruitingDaily.com or Recruitingblogs.com or his own site Derdiver.com.  Follow Derek on Twitter @Derdiver or connect with him on LinkedIn.

By Derek Zeller

Derek Zeller draws from over 20 years in the recruiting industry, and he currently is the Director of Recruiting Solutions and Channels with Engage Talent. The last 16 years he has been involved with federal government recruiting specializing within the cleared IT space under OFCCP compliancy. He has experience with both third party agency and in-house recruiting for multiple disciplines. Using out-of-the-box tactics and strategies to identify and engage talent, he has had significant experience in building referral and social media programs, the implementation of Applicant Tracking Systems, technology evaluation, and the development of sourcing, employment branding, and military and college recruiting strategies. Derek currently lives in the Portland, Oregon area. Follow Derek on Twitter @Derdiver or connect with him on LinkedIn.