How To Stay Motivated In Recruitment

There’s a load of articles on spotting and combating burnout on Hunted. Because we know how hard recruitment can be. And having a wobble in this job comes with real consequences.

Staying motivated through the peaks is easy. It’s the troughs that drag you down. And often, staying fired up’s what gets you through them.

It’s why being “self motivated” is listed as a desirable trait on practically every recruitment job spec.

Except it isn’t possible to stay motivated all the time.

And when your gusto goes, it can feel like something’s gone wrong with you.

For what it’s worth, disappearing enthusiasm’s normal and it happens to everyone.

Motivation’s weird

You’ll watch an inspiring video or read some empowering words and think you’ve stumbled onto the most profound lesson in the history of the world. You assume you’ll change, immediately and profoundly, for the better.

And then after a few weeks, days, hours, you’re back bashing your head through the desk.

Because motivation needs topping up. Constantly. Usually daily. And doing so can keep you from burning out in the long run.


Know your motivators

The problem with the most uttered line in recruitment interviews is that money’s an intangible concept.

Buying a house isn’t.

So it’s what money can do, that matters. Because without a wishlist, being motivated by money’s kind of wishy washy.

Drilling down on what you want is the first step to understanding what motivates you.

So write it down.

With a pen.

Because typing’s just as intangible an action as money is a motivator. The physical act of writing something down makes it feel more real. It’s possibly one of the more practical reasons to keep a notebook on your desk. Aside from your award winning doodles.

How can a business motivate you if you don’t know what your motivators are?

Or if you haven’t communicated your financial goals?

When was the last time you were asked what they are?

Internal and external motivators

Motivation’s categorised in two ways. External motivation comes from either earning a reward or avoiding a punishment. Top biller trophies, praise from your manager, commission, that sort of thing.

Internal motivation comes from within. It’s staying late at your desk every night because you’re personally invested in mapping your market. Not just because you’d risk your boss’s wrath for leaving early.

It’s putting effort into a job ad, not strictly because you want to improve the quality of your applications. But because you want to write the best copy you can.

It’s months of back and forth with an RPO to get on their PSL at 15% terms. Not because it will revolutionise your business, but because you think theirs is mint. And you’re motivated to work with them.

Typically, external motivators don’t endure as long as internal ones.

Getting the money together to buy a house is an example of an external motivator.

Becoming a homeowner’s an internal one.

And new research suggests if you’re motivated by internal factors more than simply chasing money, you’ll actually earn more in the long run.

jason-briscoe-149781-unsplash (1)

Happiness > satisfaction

“Be happy, but never satisfied”

It’s a Bruce Lee saying which holds weight because happiness in recruitment should be what keeps anyone motivated. You’ll work better, bill more, and by extension end up doing more in your career, and in life.

It’s fair to say satisfaction can breed complacency. Which means things can pile up and become overwhelming. So it’s important to be happy with what you’re doing and what you’ve achieved, but not to take your foot off the gas for too long.

How To Be Happy on Hunted reveals the most common regrets of the dying. One of which is “I wish I’d let myself be happier”.

And the good news is you can.

Align your goals with your employer

This takes a bit of work. But if you’re in the habit of physically writing down what you want and what you need to do to get there, it should be straightforward to link your personal goals to business activities.

For example, how much do you need to bill to get a deposit together?

How many placements does that work out to? A year? A month?

If they’re realistic milestones, crossing them off as you go serves three purposes:

i) It reminds you of your objectives

ii) It feels good making progress

iii) It keeps the finish line in sight

All three are key to staying motivated through tough stretches.

Don’t burn out, break down

To motivate yourself into making a dent in a dense workload, Suzanne Gerber advocates ‘chunking’. Calling it “the best non-pharmaceutical antidote to ADHD”.

It’s a way of chipping away at your biggest bugbear, by breaking down large tasks into smaller, manageable chunks.


Instead of slogging your guts out on a huge search all day and still looking at it as a thorn in your paw by the end of it, set yourself mini targets – nothing fancy, just the steps you’d realistically take to reach your objectives – and cross them off as you go.

The success of this technique relies on your brain releasing dopamine (a happy hormone) each time you make small amounts of progress on a big project.

Make work fun

Staying motivated’s easier when you’re enjoying what you do. Although it’s unlikely you’ll be able to manufacture fun. 

Work’s distinctly not fun when you’re under pressure, so here’s how to combat it.

Or if you’ve got a horrid boss. Here’s how to deal with one of those.

Instead, coming up with projects to get excited about, like mapping a new vertical, focussing BD more on SME clients, or thrashing out a strategy to be more present on social media, can help to focus through quieter periods.

And practically speaking, if the commission you’re earning from placements is going towards a big purchase, you’ll be surprised how much more fun doing deals becomes.

Again, putting pen to paper’s the best way to keep track of these things – and to make them tangible and achievable.

Sounds like I’ll need a new notebook

So yes, it’s mainly a case of writing things down and ticking off milestones. Psychologically, there’s a benefit to doing so but you’ll get the same-ish results from keeping a spreadsheet or a to do list on the notes app on your phone.

The key to staying motivated’s intentionally implementing behaviours designed to get you fired up for the task in hand. As well as reminding yourself why you’re doing it in the first place.

And writing and checking things off in a notebook’s far easier than digging yourself out of a motivational hole once you’ve fallen into it.

Although if you’re really struggling to motivate yourself where you are, do yourself a favour and have a look at the kind of companies hiring for the new year. Because a fresh environment might be all you’ve been missing to get fired up again.

Especially if you need more money to achieve what you want in life. Recruiters Are ALL Money Hungry Leeches after all.