ACR blog Croden

6 Ways to Run Recruitment Like a Marathon

By Acara Solutions Recruitment Manager Sarah Croden


Running is a great metaphor to life in many ways. As I grow as both a professional and as an athlete, I am starting to see how closely the two are related. From learning how to train, fuel, and recover—to running in my very first race—I have learned that a strong discipline to train for, improve on, and continue crossing finish lines is a key element of both running and recruitment.

Here are some other strategies that apply to running a marathon and managing a career in recruitment.


1.   First things first: choose your race plan.

You may not know the pace at which you want to run when you are training for your first marathon. The same can go for starting your career. The fear of the unknown can be both terrifying and exhilarating.

To start strong, you have to map out a plan. While putting an emphasis on determination and commitment is a critical part of this process, it is also important to be agile and pivot when necessary. If your initial plan does not yield the results you want, don’t be afraid to start something new. This is a sound strategy for running a marathon and committing yourself to professional growth.

Does it need to be a 5- or 10-year plan? No, you can start with a short-term plan and revisit it more frequently. As you begin to achieve your goals—or find that your original plan requires some pivoting—you will get closer to what you aim to achieve.


2.   Find a group of people who support you.

Running can be viewed as an independent sport because you’re ultimately responsible for your own success (or failure) in the end. However, that doesn’t mean you have to train for a race alone.

Running, like recruiting, is easier to dominate when you surround yourself with others to learn from and grow with. The team around you is just as important as you are—they are there to push you through challenging times and celebrates success with you during the high times.


3.   Take it slow… and smart.

The training leading up to your big race is absolutely critical. You must be persistent and increase your mileage every week. Taking a week off can have a huge effect on achieving your goals.

But remember, running faster and farther doesn’t happen overnight. Similarly, good candidates aren’t found overnight. Recruitment is about making meaningful connections, growing your network, and working with referrals and this takes persistence.

Yes, there can be a stigma attached to agency recruiters, but for me, recruitment is about building meaningful relationships and helping people come closer to their career goals. Again: success doesn’t happen overnight! Success comes from the cumulative results of our actions day in, day out.


4.   Put yourself in uncomfortable situations.

The only way to get stronger and faster is to step outside your comfort zone, allowing time for yourself to regenerate properly in between, course. Doing speedwork on a weekly basis, waking up at 6 a.m. to run 35 kilometers on a Saturday morning, and pushing yourself when you feel like giving up are the exact moments when weakness becomes strength.

In regard to recruiting, consider this: My VP of recruitment recently asked me to find a public event to speak at—a thought that terrified me! However, I knew if I didn’t welcome this opportunity, then I would be stuck inside my comfort zone. What’s worse, I wouldn’t be able to learn or grow as a result. The benefit of accepting this challenge, of course, is to establish and maintain connections that improve my job performance.


5.   Break through the wall.

Every marathon runner will tell you what the wall is. It happens at different places for different people during different races—and some can break through it faster than others. What’s the wall? It is the feeling of defeat. The feeling that the pain is too much. The feeling of doubt about crossing that finish line.

The same experience happens as a recruiter, especially when you’re starting out; the feelings of defeat, or not being able to fill a role, can make someone feel like giving up. In recruitment terms, your partners, customers, and job candidates are all people who keep you going when you feel like you can’t go on. That’s why the support coming from those around you, your perseverance to keep going, and continuing to do better each time is what will help make you successful in this career.


6.   Give it your all. Pain is temporary!

After you have broken through the wall and realize you will make it to the finish line, you just want to get there as fast as you can. Now that all the uncomfortable situations you put yourself through to get here has brought you this far, you’ll know that pain is temporary, but pride is forever.

In short, I encourage you to always push through the pain and meet your goals, whatever they may be, big or small. Once you’ve crossed the finish line, you’ll feel such an amazing feeling of relief—it’s like you’ve accomplished the impossible. You will look back and see that anything is possible, and then ask yourself, “How can I do this again but better and faster next time?”


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