The Hazard Perception Test For Recruiters

Stress is something most recruiters are used to managing.

It’s as prominent in the office as core values on the walls. Although because it’s not as visible as the word INTEGRITY splashed a metre wide across the boardroom, stress is naturally a bit harder to spot.

And given half the chance, it’ll scupper your career.

The good news is, if you know the signs, you can take action sooner.

Paula Davis-Laack is a stress and resilience expert. An entrepreneur, writer, and trainer, her techniques have been taught to thousands of professionals, including 25,000 members of the US Army and their families.

She identifies seven states of mind which “interfere with your mental strength and undercut your resilience”.

Seven hazards which, unchecked, will hold you back from passing the most major milestones in your career.

And in an industry all about accountability, these are traits which separate top billers from the rest of the pack.

Being tuned in to them’s the first step towards nipping a bad run of form in the bud. And good to be on top of generally: if you’ve got the right mindset, chances are your output will be equally tip top.

So what follows is a less an insurance policy, more a hazard perception test, to keep your head in the right space.

Steer clear of stress and you’ll find yourself making a beeline for the deal bell more often than not.

mindset 1

1. A fixed mindset

The belief that your skillset is intrinsic and unalterable. That what you bring to the table was gifted you at birth. That even your company’s “industry leading L&D program” couldn’t improve you if your life depended on it.

A fixed mindset is the natural enemy of flexible thinking, new ideas, and that other great core value: INNOVATION. Paradoxically, having your mindset fixed on constantly innovating can also be a fixed mindset too.

Tough one to admit to, this one. Could it be that denial of a fixed mindset is in itself a fixed mindset? Davis-Laack points at research suggesting that it’s being open to learning that builds resilience and increases performance in times of adversity.

2. Thinking traps

How many times have you hit send on an email and spent the rest of the day mythologising about the recipient’s thought patterns?

If recruitment has a hobby, I’d like to think this is it.

What inevitably follows is a full day of jumping to conclusions, futile attempts at mind reading, and a staunch belief in either the black or white of any given situation, stubbornly neglecting those all important grey areas.

Other dangerous and frankly inaccurate thinking traps are believing that everything that goes wrong is all your fault. Or that it’s all someone else’s.

“Resilience requires accuracy, and thinking traps interfere with your ability to think about situations in a fully accurate way”.

mindset 2

3. Catastrophising

Oh look. Something stressful’s happened. If anyone needs me, I’ll be the shivering wreck over by the worst case scenario.

Catastrophising is extremely on brand for me. In fact, I’d almost say I’m so good at thinking the worst, I deserve a catastrophy.

Little pun there.

It’s something we all do from time to time, and it’s more common when you’re fed up, run down or out of your comfort zone. Especially when you’ve got a point to prove or something you value is on the line. Like your reputation. Or a big chunk of commission.

4. Pessimistic explanatory style

Are you a glass half full or half empty person? Or are you George Carlin? “I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be”. Turns out your “emotional perspective and outlook on life” may be decided at a genetic level.

Explaining things in a negative way doesn’t just apply to conversations you have with people you know but to your inner monologue as well.

Either way, pessimism has consequences – depression being one of them. I’m reminded of Mo Gawdat’s ‘Algorithm for Happiness’:

“Happiness is looking at the glass and seeing the truth of the glass. Seeing the half full side and being grateful for it. Seeing the half empty side and saying, can I do anything about it? And if not, can I accept it?”

5. Stress harms

Forget your billings. Stress can literally kill you.

mindset 3

6. Low efficacy

This basically means low confidence. Which as far as I know isn’t a concept that applies to recruiters.

But that’s just the point. Particularly if you believe that excessive or outward displays of confidence are just a smokescreen to hide a genuine lack of it.

Do truly confident people need to make a statement about how confident they are?

Unlikely. Although there’s something to be said about faking it until you make it. And displays of confidence can be useful if you’re seeking to inspire the same in others.

But too much with little end product, or little overall improvement, is a bad cycle to get trapped in.

7. Imposter syndrome

The feeling that you fluke your wins and are somehow not deserving of success. A placement either feels too easy or a promotion apparently materialises out of thin air.

Davis-Laack puts ‘Imposter syndrome’ somewhere between ‘low efficacy’ and “maladaptive perfectionism”: a disassociation with the rewards of your actions if reality doesn’t meet your expectations.

If this isn’t too much an oversimplification, I think it’s when we confuse responsibility with blame.

And then accept neither.

“If I claim responsibility for the positive things, I’ll have to admit blame for the negative things as well. It makes more sense to avoid any kind of criticism altogether”.

Mark Manson distinguishes blame and responsibility in The Subtle Art…:

“If you woke up one day and there was a newborn baby on your doorstep, it would not be your fault that baby was put there, but the baby would now be your responsibility”.

He uses the example to highlight how William James experimented with taking responsibility for every single thing that happened to him. He went from being unemployed, suicidal and a failure at almost everything he attempted to “the father of American psychology and one of the most influential philosophers of the past 100 years”.

He’d probably be a dab hand at BD n all.

How to be Happy

How many of these 7 mindsets do you experience from time to time? 

What would happen to your billings if you didn’t?

Overcoming any of these seven hazardous mindsets is as easy, or as difficult, as not entertaining them. But being aware of what they are is the first step towards preventing them from getting to you. Better the devil you know.

Just remember, your brain is your most powerful organ. At least that’s what it wants you to think.

What Can I Do About It?

Being aware of inhibitive mindsets is often the first step towards defeating them. But in general, it’s about equipping yourself with as much knowledge and guidance as you can absorb.

Employee engagement specialists Perkbox put together The UK Workplace Stress Survey last year. It’s worth a read to get an idea of the scale of the issue.

And for Hunted content your brain will be grateful for, all of these articles are helpful:

① How To Manage Stress 

② The Secret To Spotting Burnout

③ How To Be Happy

④ Mindfulness: A Recruiter’s Secret Weapon