How to Plan For a Successful Year in Recruitment

When the fortnight-long binge ends and the holiday hangover sets in, the return to work can be daunting. As you sit on the train, scrolling through the barrage of ‘new year, new me’ messages on your news feed, pessimism sets in. This is why it’s so important to plan for a successful year in recruitment. We’re not asking you to take to Instagram and declare to the world that 2020 will be your year. But try setting out the stall for what you want to achieve, it can be surprisingly effective.

Set the Right Goals

If you want to get the year started on the right note, you need to set goals. You need some form of direction to get you off the ground. Having said this, it’s important to ensure you’re not setting yourself up for failure. Here’s a little guidance to help you set the right goals.

Concrete Vs Abstract Targets

Think of your goals like KPIs. They need to be easily measured and checked. Abstract targets are easy to lose sight of. Look for a more concrete way of achieving the same thing. For example, an abstract goal like ‘becoming a better salesperson’ can easily be transferred to something more practical like ‘billing a minimum of £X in 2020’.

Big Vs Small Goals

Is it better to set big or small goals?

This can be a tricky one…

A large, ambitious goal can be hard to achieve and easy to give up on. Whereas, small goals might not challenge you enough. It can be difficult to stay motivated.

The best approach is to choose a mixture of the two. For example, if your goal is something big like a promotion at work, it can be helpful to give yourself small milestones which will help your progress. This way, every step you take professionally will bring you closer to the main goal. The small targets keep you moving forward while the larger ambition keeps you motivated.

Ask Yourself ‘Why?’

When choosing a professional goal, it can be easy to opt for the obvious. This usually surrounds getting a promotion or pay rise. Of course, this is a valid goal. But before you choose any target, ask yourself why it matters. Why do you want the promotion? The answer is likely to be money. Why do you want more money?

When you delve a little deeper and ask ‘why?’ enough times, you’ll find something truly meaningful. When you’ve got this, you’ll find a vital boost to your motivation.

Focus on the Process

Okay, time for a little science…

Research suggests that when we set goals, our minds view our target as if we’ve already achieved it. This means, our brains look upon our goal as an essential part of us. By not being successful, we feel we’ve lost something. This can be both positive and detrimental to our motivation. Unfortunately, this guilty feeling will follow us around for however long it takes to actually say we’re successful.

If you’re planning for successes in your next year of recruitment, expect to feel loss, fear and anxiety until you’ve made it.


It’s not all doom and gloom. When we create plans for our lives, we fall into the traps fed to us by cheap self-help books. Instead of spending your days visualising what life will be like once you’ve successfully achieved something, start looking at the small incremental choices you can make today to move towards your end result.

Dopamine is the chemical associated to the feeling of pleasure we get with achievement. It’s also pretty important for maintaining attention too. When an obstacle gets in the way of our success, our brain goes without dopamine – this causes the frustration and disappointments we feel.

So, how do we balance our ambitions with a regular flow of dopamine?

The answer is to focus on the process. Map out exactly what you need to do at each stage to achieve your goal. Ensure each stage is within reach of the next. This will keep you moving forward and striving for success without getting too bogged down in a false perception of inadequacy

Plan to Fail

When planning to be successful, it’s just as important to plan for failure. A lot of people fall into the trap of calling this approach pessimistic, in fact it’s quite the opposite.

Think about it, how many deals fall through in a year? How many candidates don’t show up to interviews? How many times do you just have a bad day?

These are instances which you can’t possibly control. If you don’t have a contingency plan for when this happens, you could give up on your goals altogether. Instead, planning to fail gives you an instant counter-measure to take which will keep you on track.

Works in practice, but how about in reality?

Think back to our previous example of ‘billing a minimum of £X amount in 2020’. To achieve this, you would have planned how much you need to bill on average each month. Sounds great but then you have a dry patch in March. You’ve billed nothing and you’re now massively behind on your target.

What do you do? Do you give up on the end target? Do you reduce your target to a more realistic figure? Or, do you increase your incremental monthly target accordingly? Moreover, if you increase your monthly target, what extra work do you need to do to make this possible?

If you have a plan in place, failure becomes easier to handle.

Put Yourself in the Right Environment

Irrelevant of how hard you work, your environment will have a huge role in dictating how successful you are in recruitment. You need to give yourself the best chance of achieving your ambitions. Scrutinise your current agency and position. Can they give you everything you need to be successful?

If the answer’s no, it might be worth finding an agency which will.

If you’re looking for the perfect agency, we can help. Get in touch today for a confidential discussion about what you’re looking for from your next job in recruitment. Alternatively, have a browse of our job board to get a feel for what we currently have on offer.

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