The Resilient Recruiter: Got Resiliency? Part 4

12 03 2009

Part Four of Four: Questions to Ask Yourself and Your Candidates

Welcome to the final article in our “The Resilient Recruiter” series.  In this series, we have been exploring the relevance of resiliency skills to the success of recruiting professionals.  Previously in this series, we defined resiliency as the ability to deal with adversity and bounce back, and we learned that resiliency consists of a set of skills that can be strengthened.  We explored the inner resiliency factors of defining values, setting goals, creating and following plans and confidently making decisions.  We also discussed the importance of establishing outer resiliency factors, which include healthy relationships, group or community involvement, hobbies, healthy diet, sleep, exercise, etc. 

In this fourth and final article of the series, we will offer you four key questions that you can ask yourself (or your candidates) to assess your resiliency (or theirs).  When you ask yourself these questions, your answers will give you a clue about where your resiliency needs to be strengthened.  Your candidates’ answers to these questions will help you assess their resiliency, thus their suitability for long-term employment. 

Here are four key questions to ask yourself (or your candidates) to assist you in assessing your resiliency (or their resiliency):

  1. Tell me about a time when something happened at work (or school for new graduates, or in life) when something went wrong or you encountered a challenge.
  2. How long did it take you to respond?
  3. What was the outcome and how was it achieved?
  4. Who did you work with (if anyone) to resolve the situation?

Analysis:  The following will help you know what to listen for in answers to the above questions.  Knowing what to listen for will help you assess the resiliency of the person answering these questions:

1.     Tell me about a time when something happened at work (or school for new graduates, or in life) when something went wrong or you encountered a challenge. 

  • How well did they qualify/quantify the issue?  Resilient people understand the issue and they are able to articulate it clearly and without confusion.
  • How quickly were they able to accept the situation for what it was in order to start working on a solution?  Acceptance of what is going on is a large part of being resilient (staying out of denial or avoidance). 
  • Did they go to blame or acceptance?  Blame indicates lack of resiliency.  Acceptance and the ability to work toward a solution, regardless of the cause (blame), indicate a higher level of resiliency.
  • What role did they play? Their role will give you clues about whether they were part of the solution (a sign of resiliency), or part of blaming and/or otherwise making matters worse.
  • How soon did they notice things were “off track”? This helps you get a feel for how much they pay attention to what is happening around them. How mindful of things are they?  Resilient people are “tuned in” to their situations and surroundings.
  • Did they “over own” the problem?  Were they able to distinguish what part they should “own” versus what is not theirs to own?  Resilient people know what issues are their own versus what issues are others, and they maintain clear boundaries.  They own what is theirs without blame; however, they do not own issues that belong to someone else.

2.     How long did it take you to respond?

  • This speaks to how fast to they adapt to change and accept it.  Quick acceptance and adaptation is a key resiliency factor.

3.     What was the outcome and how was it achieved? 

  • Did they follow all the rules (high compliant)? Or did they get creative to get resolution? Resilient people get creative and think outside the box.

4.     Who did you work with (if anyone) to resolve the situation? 

  • Did they tap into their formal team?  Had they already established their own team of relationships to assist them in solving issues in life?  Or…were they on their own with no support?  Resilient people surround themselves with people they can call on to help them work through challenges in life.  The relationships of resilient people can handle conflict without damage to the relationship – their relationships are healthy.

Did you ask yourself these questions?  If so, what did you conclude about your own resiliency?  If you are not pleased with your answers, then you may want to embark on a journey to strengthen your resiliency.  You can strengthen your resiliency by implementing resiliency factors from this series in your life.  For maximum improvement, you can enlist the assistance of a resiliency trainer, such as Michael Ballard. 

Do you see how asking these questions of your candidates will help you to assess their resiliency, too?  You can be confident that resilient candidates are the best match, whether they are an application developer, sales professional, staff accountant…or…recruiter.

Obviously, this series has merely provided a cursory overview of the subject of resiliency – a subject that has much more depth than we could convey in a short series.  As a recruiter who has encountered her fair share of challenging times, I must mention that my belief system – specifically faith – has had the most direct impact on my own resiliency.  I encourage you to evaluate your resiliency and, as needed, commit yourself to strengthening it.

As we bring The Resilient Recruiter series to a close, we reiterate that we will all encounter times in our lives when we are under higher than normal levels of stress.  It is during those times that we learn how resilient we are – or aren’t.  Nothing will be more positively impacting to your success in your recruiting career – and in your life – than possessing strong resiliency skills.  


As “The Recruiter’s Recruiter,” Wendy Albrecht Kembel enjoys placing recruiting professionals. View Wendy’s profile at . Her company, Integrity Recruiting Group, Inc., works in alliance with Anderson Recruiting Consultants, Inc. . Feel free to email Wendy at

To find out more about the work and services provided by Michael Ballard and his firm Resiliency for Life, you can contact him at or visit his website


The Resilient Recruiter: Outer Resiliency

13 01 2009

Part Three of Four: Outer Resiliency

Welcome back to The Resilient Recruiter series, in which we are exploring the relevance of resiliency skills to the success of recruiting professionals during times of adversity.  Recruiting professionals need well-developed resiliency skills in order to perform at maximum effectiveness, particularly during this era of economic uncertainty and continuous change. 

Previously in this series, we defined resiliency as the ability to deal with adversity and bounce back, and we learned that resiliency consists of a set of skills that can be strengthened.  A resilient recruiter will “hit a wall” and then quickly and creatively adapt and find a way around it, becoming stronger in the process.  A recruiter, sourcer or researcher who is not as resilient, however, might hit that same wall, but instead succumb to discouragement and choose to linger at the wall in despair. 

In our last article, we explored the inner resiliency factors of defining values, setting goals, creating and following plans and confidently making decisions.  As implied by the name, inner resiliency factors are primarily those factors which are developed from within.

In this part three article we will depart from our previous interview format as we explore the following outer resiliency factors:  relationships, involvement in groups or community, participation in hobbies, volunteer work, healthy diet, exercise and sleep. 

We will start with the more basic and obvious outer resiliency factors of healthy diet, exercise and sleep.  Naturally, if you take care of your body during the good times, then your body will be more resilient during adversity.  The stress that usually accompanies adversity has been proven to lower immunity and can lead to physical illness at a time when you most need health and strength.  Waiting until adversity hits is not the time to suddenly decide to take proper care of your body.  A great place to start in boosting your outer resiliency is to develop healthy habits around what you eat and around obtaining regular exercise and adequate sleep daily.   

This brings us to the relational and activity related outer resiliency factors.  A good place to begin is to ask yourself about the quality of your relationships with those who matter to you the most.  That represents the cornerstone of your outer resiliency.  If you have trouble in those relationships, it will be well worth the time and expense to invest in help to improve those relationships.  Be prepared, though, to hold a mirror up and keep it up.  Improving those relationships will require you to “own” your contribution to difficulties. 

Now, step back a bit.  Are there any relationships which, if you are completely honest with yourself, drain you and leave you depleted?  If so, then seriously consider whether it is healthy for you to continue those relationships.  Perhaps there are some relationships you need to end and others that need some healthy boundaries put into place.  Be picky in choosing those with whom you will spend your time. 

The strength of your relationships – your network of support – will be a significant determinant in whether you thrive, versus just survive when adversity hits.  Those who have close, healthy, authentic relationships with a network of people who know them well will find themselves surrounded by the support they need at the time they need it.  Those who isolate and do not have close relationships are at risk for withdrawing into clinical depression and spiraling into blame and other unhealthy choices and behaviors (alcohol, drugs, over-eating, etc.) when faced with adversity. 

In addition to proactively taking care of their bodies and choosing healthy relationships, resilient recruiting professionals also participate in hobbies and activities.  Those who are involved in the community or do volunteer work have an expanded network of support and are found to have higher self-esteem than those who wallow in self-focus.  Those who are involved in church small groups also enjoy a strong support network, which significantly increases their outer resiliency.  It is wise to assess your relationships and involvement in groups, activities and hobbies prior to adversity coming your way.  Once adversity hits, it is much more difficult to cultivate relationships and outside interests in a meaningful and authentic way. 

In summary, whether you are a full life cycle recruiter, a sourcer or researcher, no amount of cool tools or gadgets will carry you when adversity hits.  All of us encounter challenging times at some point in our lives. The question is:  how will you navigate those times of adversity?  If your inner and outer resiliency skills are well developed, then you will have the ability to engage your creative problem-solving abilities with strength and confidence.  You will be able to maintain a sense of humor about your situation (without slipping into denial), while allowing your network of support to be there for you in the way that any human needs during difficult times.  You will then discover, on other side of adversity, that you are a better and stronger recruiting professional because of the adversity you experienced.  You will have flexed and strengthened your resiliency muscles, preparing you to navigate the next challenge in “finer form”. 

Stay tuned for this series’ final article, in which we will learn how to assess our resiliency and the resiliency of the candidates we are recruiting.


As “The Recruiter’s Recruiter,” Wendy Albrecht Kembel enjoys placing recruiting professionals. View Wendy’s profile at . Her company, Integrity Recruiting Group, Inc., works in alliance with Anderson Recruiting Consultants, Inc. . Feel free to email Wendy at

The Resilient Recruiter: Inner Resiliency

8 12 2008

Part Two of Four: Inner Resiliency
An Interview with Resiliency SME, Michael Ballard

Welcome back to our Resilient Recruiter series.  In part one, we defined resiliency and discussed why it matters.  We outlined some of the skills that assist us in building resiliency.  The great news is that any of us can develop and strengthen our resiliency skills.  As recruiting professionals we can have all the latest tools and gadgets available to us; yet, when adversity hits, it is our resiliency skills that will keep us on top of our game. 

In this part two of a four part series, resiliency subject matter expert, trainer and coach Michael Ballard is going to give us an overview of inner resiliency.  

WENDY:  Michael, you have said that there are four key factors associated with inner resiliency and those factors help us to consistently stay productive and at the top of our career in the midst of adversity.  What is the first inner resiliency factor?

MICHAEL:  The first inner resiliency factor is about being purposeful, which involves values, goals, planning and decisions.  To strengthen inner resiliency, it is critical to develop the skill, will and discipline to:

  1. define your values
  2. set goals
  3. create plans which align with your values and goals, and
  4. make decisions.  

It is helpful to create systems around these processes.  For example, you can create a system for setting and tracking goals and for how you go about planning daily, weekly, monthly and beyond.  Ask yourself:  what are the most important things you want to accomplish on a daily basis?  What do you allow to throw you off track?  The daily plan is powerful for keeping you on track each day.  You can even create a system for how you go about making decisions.  You must have first defined your values and goals, and then you can develop a series of questions to ask yourself to help you determine which decision will move you closer to your goals, while aligning with your values. 

WENDY:  It makes sense that if we have defined our values and goals and have established daily planning as an ingrained habit, we will already be “set up” to operate well during times of adversity.  I certainly see how having strong decision making abilities is crucial for resiliency.

MICHAEL:  Yes.  The first thing to do is to honestly assess whether or not you know your values and how well you are currently doing in the areas of goal setting, planning and decision making.  If you need improvement, then get assistance online or with a coach, and find an accountability partner.  Learn how to do these things effectively and then utilize these skills consistently. 

WENDY:  What is the second inner resiliency factor?

MICHAEL:  The second inner resiliency factor encompasses resistance skills, or developing self control.  Resistance skills are all about our “won’t power.”   For example, “I won’t eat that extra piece of dessert.”  Resistance skills involve our ability to recognize and control our impulses.  It is one thing to identify our impulses, but it is an entirely different matter to have the self control to resist our impulses.  We all from time to time fall victim to our own impulses. It is important to become aware of what is and is not in our best interest and to then develop the self control, or courage, to stop ourselves from doing what runs counter to what is best for us.  This is another place where accountability can be helpful.

WENDY:  I can see how some people fall into destructive behavior during adversity, if they have not defined their values and goals and then developed self control to stay aligned with those values and goals (what is best for them).  What is the third inner resiliency factor?

MICHAEL:  The third inner resiliency factor involves self definition.  If you created a definition for yourself in the dictionary, what words and phrases would you utilize to define yourself?  Would they tell the truth about you?  Would they build you up?  Would they gently and honestly remind you of where you can improve?   To be resilient, we need to know the truth about our strengths and challenges, while being careful about how we define ourselves and how we allow others to define us.  The key is to stay positive yet realistic.  It takes awareness and courage.  Keep in mind that how we define ourselves drives our thoughts, which drive our feelings, which then drive our behavior.  So, if we define ourselves as incapable in a certain area, then our feelings may follow that self definition and we might play it out as true.

WENDY:  I see how a person’s beliefs play a significant role when it comes to self definition.  What is the fourth inner resiliency factor?

MICHAEL:  The fourth inner resiliency factor is about healthy boundaries.  It is good to have empathy for others and to show them we care, but only if we can do so without “taking on” their issues to the point of being drained.  Many would call that sympathy.  Your inner world stays more energized – and you are more resilient – when you take care of yourself and maintain healthy boundaries.

WENDY:  Thank you, Michael, for educating us about the inner resiliency factors of  1) being purposeful  2) having resistance skills (self control)  3) having a healthy self-definition, and  3) maintaining healthy boundaries.  In part three we will discuss outer resiliency. 

During challenging times, as for some in our current economic situation, only resilient recruiting professionals will thrive.  As sourcers, researchers and recruiters, we must assess and strengthen our resiliency on an ongoing basis in order to succeed during times of adversity.  Our tools, technologies, gadgets and networks will not compensate for a lack of inner resiliency when the going gets tough.  Whether we are seeking names of candidates, or picking up the phone to make a connection with them, our performance is directly impacted by our ability to bounce back quickly and come out of adversity stronger.  How resilient are you?  Are you purposeful in your work whether times are “up” or “down”?  Do you get discouraged or lose focus during adversity?  If so, obtain help and support in strengthening your resiliency skills. 

In part three of this series, we will discuss outer resiliency.


As “The Recruiter’s Recruiter,” Wendy Albrecht Kembel enjoys placing recruiting professionals. View Wendy’s profile at . Her company, Integrity Recruiting Group, Inc., works in alliance with Anderson Recruiting Consultants, Inc. . Feel free to email Wendy at

To find out more about the work and services provided by Michael Ballard and his firm Resiliency for Life, you can contact him at or visit his website

The Resilient Recruiter: Got Resiliency?

12 11 2008

Part One of Four: Intro to Resiliency
An Interview with Resiliency SME, Michael Ballard

Gotta love Facebook.  That’s where I discovered Michael Ballard.  When I saw his picture with a life-sized Elmo, I had to find out what this man was about.  I was gripped by his personal story of resiliency as I learned that he managed to place 7th in sales out of a sales team of 78…in the midst of a four-month multi-treatment battle with cancer one year.  That’s resiliency!

Michael specializes in resiliency programming. His practice includes work as a consultant, facilitator, workshop leader and writer.  He has over 19 years of experience helping clients throughout North America and the Pacific Rim. He assists individuals, families, teams and organizations in building resiliency skills for greater levels of durability and success.

Having been through some resiliency…ahem…“opportunities” of my own in the past couple of years, I pondered the relationship between resiliency and recruiting success after chatting with Michael.  I thought about the many factors that come into play in the making of a “rockstar” recruiter…or even just a consistent producing recruiter:  experience, training, personality, technology, networks, tools, gadgets.  I am a closet geek and suffer from bouts of gadget-envy with a hidden belief that more tools and gadgets will make me a better recruiter.  We do need to learn best practices and discover how the latest technologies, tools and gadgets can improve our game; but…what good are tools, gadgets, training, experience, etc. if we are not resilient? 

Resiliency separates the pros from the amateurs in any profession.  Resiliency skills take a quick front seat during difficult times.  Those who push through adversity with well-developed resiliency skills will come out stronger on the other side.  Those who let adversity take them down, however, will lose…and they will often take others down with them.

Emotional Quotient (EQ) is a significant component of resiliency.  I was intrigued to discover that studies by Hunter, Schmidt and Judiesch 1990, and Goldman 1998, show that:

  • Emotional Quotient (EQ) is more important than leadership skills in management positions. EQ impacts performance more than IQ, cognitive ability and technical skills combined.
  • High EQ sales professionals are up to 25% more productive than their low EQ counterparts.
  • In some environments high EQ staffs have 63% LESS turnover!

Got your attention now?  Those stats have staggering implications for organizations…for HR…for recruiting!  In this first of a four part series, we will introduce the subject of resiliency in an interview with Michael Ballard: 

Wendy:    Michael, how do you define resiliency?

Michael: Experts define resiliency as our ability to deal with adversity and bounce back.  Resiliency consists of a set of skills. 

Wendy:    Why is resiliency important?

Michael:  Our resiliency or lack thereof can greatly impact our ability to succeed at work, home, school and in society. We need to nurture, mend and strengthen our mental health. Our quality of life depends upon it.  Resiliency skills help people to keep moving forward in life. These skills assist us to stay “up right”.  It’s a skill set that most of us don’t enjoy having to use, yet it is vital to our ability to maximize our potential and minimize the downside of adversity.

Wendy:    How might we recognize a resilient person?

Michael:  Resilient people share several traits.  These include: acceptance of reality, a deep belief that life is meaningful, and an uncanny ability to improvise.  They see opportunity in every crisis and move forward in life despite many obstacles and challenges. 

Wendy:    How does resiliency develop?

Michael:  Learning to deal with setbacks is something we all learn about starting from an early age.  Regardless of whether it is dealing with the playground bully, a failure at school,  a personal or family crisis, financial difficulties, injury, illness, tough economic times or a serious blow to our career, we will all have the opportunity to discover how resilient we are…or aren’t…at various times in our lives.  While some people are born with personalities and traits that result in them being more – or less – resilient than others, there is great news:  each of us can exercise, flex and grow our resiliency muscles.  Learning to develop and deepen our resiliency is a lifelong process that, if done well, will help us enjoy a life with greater accomplishments and less down time spent in a state of anxiety, fear or worry.

Wendy:    As recruiters and sourcers, few of us are not impacted in some way by the spirit of fear and uncertainty that has swept the U.S. in recent times.  Hiring managers expect more for less, while others are laying off.  Meanwhile, growing competition nips at our heels.  What better time for us to assess and strengthen our resiliency skills than now!

Michael:  Yes!  To combine book titles of the bestselling author Thomas L. Friedman “The World is Flat, HOT and Crowded!” I’d add and Hyper Competitive Too!

Wendy:  When we spoke, you mentioned inner and outer resiliency.  We will address these aspects of resiliency in subsequent articles, but can you give us an overview of them now?

Michael: Sure.  Inner resiliency is about our own personal mindset and beliefs and what we choose to do in our minds during adversity. 

Wendy:   I can relate.  I have found that beliefs (for me, specifics around faith) coupled with the ability to harness thoughts are of paramount importance during crucial moments of a difficult…or… traumatic situation.  What about outer resiliency?

Michael:  Outer resiliency has to do with the support systems, resources, etc. we put into place in our lives to increase our resiliency…those factors outside of ourselves, but put into place by us. 

As we move through this four part series, I look forward to delving into questions we can ask ourselves, as recruiters, to determine our resiliency and to assess where we might want to work on improving our resiliency.  We can take it further and increase quality of hires as well, if we start to assess the resiliency of our candidates, too. Thank you to Michael for sharing your knowledge about resiliency with us.


As “The Recruiter’s Recruiter,” Wendy Albrecht Kembel enjoys placing recruiting professionals.  View Wendy’s profile at company, Integrity Recruiting Group, Inc.,  works in alliance with Anderson Recruiting Consultants, Inc.  www.andersonrecruiting.comFeel free to email Wendy at

To find out more about the work and services provided by Michael Ballard and his firm Resiliency for Life, you can contact him at or visit his website