Habits – they can be good or bad. It can be a habit to sweeten coffee with a huge amount of sugar, but also to wash dishes immediately after a meal. What do they have to do with the recruiting world? Why is it worth considering the habits that guide our work? And how can we make habits more successful?

What are habits?

Habits are small decisions and actions that we take every day. Habits account for about 40 percent of our behavior every day, according to researchers at Duke University. It would not be far from the truth to say that our life – both professional and personal – is the sum of our habits. Whether we feel happy and fulfilled at work is also largely the result of good and bad habits. It is similar with going to action. The good news is that once we are aware of it, we can “program” our habits accordingly. How to shape habits that we care about? Check it out!

The 21-day theory: true or false?

From my student days, I remember a conference from which I learned an interesting statement: to develop a habit, you should repeat a given activity before 21 days. Apparently, such a time is enough for the activity to “enter our blood”. Where does this number come from?

The 21 days theory dates back to 1960. A plastic surgeon named Maxwell Maltz then noticed an interesting relationship in his patients – people whose bodies were drastically changed as a result of surgery such as facial surgery took at least three weeks to adjust to their new appearance. This experience prompted Maltz to investigate further, which proved that other aspects of life were also affected.

Thus, the very popular myth of “magic change of habits in 21 days” was born. Dr. Phillippa Lally of University College London deepened this research. Based on many years of research, it has been established that in reality we need over 66 days for any activity to become a habit. Lally has investigated various cases – both simple, such as drinking water during lunch, and more demanding – such as practicing playing an instrument. However, the “magic number” of days required does not exist in practice. It all depends on personality and effort.

Habits, or the key to success

Working as a recruiter has a lot to do with working in sales. Each of the recruiters has a planned goal – it may be the number of recommendations, employment or specific amounts on the invoices issued. Regardless of what we strive for, we should use the so-called backward planning. In a nutshell, it means defining smaller goals that will be achieved on the way to the intended result. For example: to hire one person, we should recommend 3 candidates. It is good to conduct 6 sales calls for 3 recommendations, and we should contact 120 candidates. The numbers here are, of course, exemplary – the point is that achieving our main goal can be broken down into prime factors and simple activities performed each day. Based on them, we can develop appropriate recruitment habits that will increase work efficiency.

Recruitment habits: which are the most valuable?

I. Scrupulous keeping of the candidate’s history

Meticulousness is an extremely important trait that leads to success in recruiting. The best recruiters I have had the opportunity to work with are people who keep the history of contact with candidates very carefully. Usually there are dozens of contacts made a day. Some of them are responsible for “maybe in 3 months”, “nice offer, but not now” or very popular in holiday seasons “let’s get back to the topic after the holidays”. Without keeping records of contact with candidates, it is very easy to get lost and lose the opportunity to include someone in the process.

On the other hand:

Exact history of contact = better relations + well-matched offer


Zenek, who a few months ago was not interested in changing his job, could have mentioned during the interview that he would be willing to consider offers in the future that would enable him to develop towards a team leader. Richer with such information, the next contact with Zenek we have a better chance of success, because we will present him such an offer.

How to do it?

Use the calendar! Each subsequent contact that we plan with a candidate can, for example, be added to the calendar in the form of an event or reminder (such functions are provided by most popular calendars, including Google Calendar). We will receive a notification at the right moment, and we will certainly not forget to contact a potential candidate who asked to be contacted after the holidays. I recommend that you put information about each contact in the database, regardless of whether it is a phone call, inMail or an invitation to friends on LinkiedIn. Such annotations will allow us to minimize the number of “lost” candidates and increase the chances of getting recommendations. The most important step in developing such a habit will therefore be to document our activities.

II. Follow-up

Here we can see another similarity between recruiting and selling. It is a common theory among salespeople that less than 20% of the first contacts with potential customers are successful (sales). Similar trends can be seen in the candidates. We are rarely able to convince a candidate to take part in recruitment during the first contact. Of course, it is easier to do this by phone, but often the first form of contact is sending a message.

How to do it?

The one with recruiter habits is quite easy to implement. It is enough to keep a list of contracted candidates to know who to return to with a short follow-up message. I have come across two approaches to this approach: some recruiters send the latter message after 2-3 days, others give the candidates more time, e.g. a week. It is a completely individual matter – I encourage you to test different solutions and then choose the more effective one that suits our work style. For me, the second way works best, i.e. reconnect after a week. Then I block myself 1 hour a day on the follow-up calendar. This time is enough to contact all applicants on the same day of the previous week.

III. Providing feedback

I know – this is one of the biggest problems in the recruiting world. A problem that comes back like a boomerang from unhappy candidates who get no feedback after going through the process. Giving feedback should be a habit of every recruiter. Even if we do not have an extensive response from the client – as it unfortunately happens – we should always finish the process by handing over the recruitment result to the candidate. Recruitment is a specific business – it largely capitalizes on building a network of contacts. Maintaining good relationships is crucial, and a good recruitment will make such a candidate more likely to return to interviews in the future.
How to do it?

Never put off giving feedback “until later”. The probability that this task will be pushed back by another task with a higher priority is very high. Provide feedback by phone to cultivate a relationship with the candidate.

Giving feedback (especially negative) is not the most pleasant thing. Many people have a tendency to postpone these responsibilities – the opposite strategy should be adopted. I encourage you to provide feedback by phone, always thanking you for participating in the process, regardless of the outcome. I always inform myself that I will add a candidate to my network of contacts on linkedin, thanks to which I can be sure that we will keep some form of contact. It is also worth adding information about the feedback provided to your notes in such a way that this annotation officially closes the process.


Good habits allow you to achieve your goals faster. Regardless of whether we are trying to lose 3 kg or hire an accountant with German. Matching specific, small and simple steps is the key to success in most cases. Developing habits is not an easy thing to do, but by taking small steps, you can literally program a certain lifestyle or work style.

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