Work-Life Balance is a myth. Aim for Work-Life Integration

Work-life balance is a myth. The people who talk about work-life balance and tell you how amazing it is.

How important and vital it is, and how if you do not have work-life balance you are the failure are probably:

1) Lying or

2) Selling you courses or books on work-life balance. There is no balance. There never will be balanced because work is important, and so is family life.

Balance means that neither receives the focus they deserve. Sometimes it will get out of kilter. And that’s why what you’ll want to do is you fit your work into your lifestyle and vice-versa. How I’ve done, that is I’ve worked for myself, meaning that I can provide my work around my life and my life around my work.

If you’re working for a big corporate, this will never happen.

They may talk about work-life balance, but in reality, everything is geared towards work and not your life.

So if you want to create a life that’s worth living and engaging with, work for yourself, so you can integrate your work into your life.


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Three productivity hacks to make you a better recruiter

The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro technique is named after a kitchen tomato timer, of all things, that was invented by an Italian chap. And mostly, it’s a productivity tool that is simple, straightforward, and it’s really, really quite useful. What you’re doing is you batch your time into 25-minute slots called a Pomodoro, and in that slot, you focus on one thing and one task only and nothing else.

During that 25 minutes, that’s all you focus on, either until you have completed the task or the timer goes off. When the Pomodoro goes off, and it rings the bell, you take a 5- to 10-minute break, get away from your desk, then you come back, and you do another Pomodoro. You just keep repeating like that all day.

What this technique does is it sets an artificial barrier of time, it blocks everything else out, and it focuses you through creating a sense of urgency.

And it’s brilliant. And the great thing is if someone is coming to disturb you, all you do is say, “Can you come to me at the end of Pomodoro? There are about 10 minutes left.” And then you continue. It’s great. Use it. I use it. Fantastic stuff.

Batch tasks

Do all of one type of work, at one time, in one big batch. Why? Because it’s more efficient. If you have to process candidates registration meetings and calls onto the system, do it once a day or week. Why? By switching between tasks, it can take up to 10 minutes to 15 minutes for the brain to shift into gear for that new task, which means that you will probably either take longer or will do the job poorly.

So if you meet 10 candidates in a week, on a Friday afternoon, set yourself an hour to put all their details on the system, bish bash bosh, and in an hour, you get all their details onto the system. You’ve saved yourself a lot of time, but also, as you put their information on the system at the same time, you’ll be consistent in the way that you do it because you’ll be following the same process.  

Although it means that your stats won’t necessarily be updated day to day on that type of thing, over a weekly basis, batching matters and will have a significant impact. You should batch your BD calls. You should batch LinkedIn time. You should batch your emails.

Batching should be part of your daily business.

Go Dark

No this is not about going all James Bond. However, sometimes you literally just have to go dark. You have to turn off everything. You have to turn off your phone, you have to turn off your email, and you have to get on with work. You have to ignore the notifications.

Now, in recruitment, ignoring communication and telephone calls has always been a bit of sin, almost a heresy in some circles. But I for one believe that if you’re still responding, you are not responsible. So sometimes you have to go dark to focus on those critical tasks and use the dark going method to essentially make crucial decisions. Say for instance you have to make a decision on a software purchase between two suppliers.

Say it’s for an Application Tracking System. Now you’ve gone over all the details and what you do is you go dark. You take the details. You turn off your phone. You turn off your internet, everything. You go through the decision for a certain amount of time, say 25 minutes. Once that time has ended, you make a firm decision.

That’s how going dark can be used for decisions. Additionally, if you have work to do that is not based on communicating with people, going dark is a great way of getting it done quickly and getting back on with other subjects.


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Ask Candidates for Advice

Ask for advice from candidates Whenever you are headhunting anyone, what you do not want to do is do an aggressive headhunt.

What you want to do is do a soft headhunt by asking for advice. This generally has a better impact than asking people directly because it essentially makes you look good and it allows them the time and space to think about any role or decision you have put in front of them.

So how do you use a soft headhunt by asking for advice? When speaking to a candidate about a role, mention that you would like to pick their brains about a position that they might be interested in, but also that you’d like some advice as well.

Tell them about the role and then you ask for their advice, be flexible in giving them the time to take notice. And what you may find is that if the part is genuine of interest to them, they will put their hands forward.

What you may find is you have to give the candidate time to think. This is a good thing.

Why? Because you’ve had time to think, you’ve had time to allow the ideas to not be so shocking to the candidate, but also you’ve not come across as pushy, which is essential because looking pushy is always wrong because no one likes a pushy recruiter.

Neither do I really, to be entirely fair. So give it a go and see what happens.


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Candidate pain and pleasure

Understanding a candidate’s motivations is important and as a recruiter, it is vital that you take the time to understand what pain is motivating them to move from a job and what pleasure points they are seeking to achieve from this move.

Why do you need to know the pain and pleasure points of each candidate that you are dealing with?

Firstly, understanding what they want and don’t want from a job will allow you to ensure you are putting forward a candidate who is suitable and mentally able to put up with the role you are putting them up for.

Secondly, you will be allowing the candidate to be truthful and only serve you better in the long run.

Thirdly, during the process, you will have increased influence on the candidate as you will know what is and is not in their best interests.


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The Naked Recruitment guide to your Inbox

The Best Email Habit – Always Process to Inbox Zero

Whenever you go onto your emails, you should always process them to zero. Don’t let anything else get in the way of preparing them to zero. Zero is your goal. This one habit will help tame your inbox and will free up your day to do extraordinary things like organising the drinks after work on a Friday or prospecting for new clients.

You know the important stuff. Below I have outlined a workflow you can use to process emails and get inbox to inbox zero.

1. Open email.

2. Read email.

3. Is action required? Y or N.

4. If Yes, will this action take less than two minutes? If yes, do straight away. If no, add to Action folder.

5. If no action is required does the email need to go into a folder? Yes – Add to Folder, No – Read the email then delete if unimportant or archive for later reference. Use this above workflow until you have cleared your inbox entirely than do three 45 minute email bursts a day from then on. You will have taken control of your inbox and will feel very free afterwards.

Batch Emails and then turn them off 

All emails are super talented, and you need to respond to them straight away said no successful person ever. Emails like almost all tasks should be scheduled and batched into specific times each day. Why should you do this? Emails are not that important, and in 99.999999999% of the time, they can wait a couple of hours. It is just control freak culture that keeps us checking emails, every five minutes of the day. The benefits of batching emails are threefold:

Firstly: By batching your emails into slots, e.g. 9am, 1pm and 4:30pm you can focus the rest of the day on the critical tasks like business development calls and networking with candidates.

Secondly: You do not lose cognitive focus by switching between tasks. As you switch between functions, it can take up to ten minutes to get the brain into gear for the new work. That is a lot of wasted brain power and focus.

Thirdly: By having your emails batched at specific times you are saying to yourself I am the master of my time and the captain of my inbox. Now if you have to send a client or candidate a quick email, you really should do it through the CRM or ATS if they have this functionality. This will stop the temptation to deal with other emails and will also keep them tracked as well. Because if it is not followed, it is not fact!

Candidate Application Emails

This is a super quick hack. When processing your emails and you get an application from a candidate put it into a separate application folder. Why? So you can batch processing candidate CV’s and applications quickly and from one location onto your ATS. This way you will not have to scramble around and will be able to promptly and efficiently deal with them without them clogging up your inbox. Quick, simple and effective.

Ignore or ‘call out’ useless emails

You do not need to be CC’d into the latest of 350 birthday card emails that circulate around the company at any one time. Call them out as time wasting. Or do what I did when I worked at a large company, I put emails from timewasters under a set rule which put them into a folder called timewasters.

You may occasionally miss something, but generally, Stacy’s email about David’s birthday in the Colchester office will not be worth reading. Unless you are David in the Colchester office. I may sound like an old fart. However, so much time is wasted by these emails it makes my blood boil. If you do decide to call out the time-wasting emailer, do it carefully and with tact. Do not say “Sharon this is bollocks, stop sending this stuff about the ‘buy a cake from the supermarket and pretend you baked it’ day.”

Instead, say. “Thank you for keeping us all posted on the upcoming bake sale in aid of injured seagulls, however, could I be left off in future as I get a lot of emails each day and I would like to lower my email burden to ensure I am tip-top for my candidates and clients. I hope you understand.” Remember it is your time and your inbox not sharing.

Templates of the Gods

Do you feel like you write the same emails time and time again? The chances are without even realising it, you are sending dozens maybe even hundreds of emails a week that are basically the same. What a waste of time, life, and energy.   

Templates are indeed a gift from the gods when it comes to emails. Now depending on your email system, it can be easy or hard to have easy to access templates. I personally use the GSuite application – Inbox by Google which has a handy template feature making it really simple to create and send models. If you are using another programme like outlook, then this is a little trickier, but can quickly be done.

Whatever programme you are using, creating email templates is a brilliant way to respond to emails quickly, and produce world-class responses that just take a click of a button. We suggest you make models for the following situations below (I am sure you can come up with more ideas).

Candidate Submission Email to Client

Candidate Submission Confirmation to Candidate

Interview Confirmation – Client Interview

Confirmation – Candidate Interview

Confirmation – Meeting You

Rejection Email

Rejection Email – Can you call me back

Terms of Business Email

Client Invoice Email

Client Payment Chasing Letter One

Client Payment Chasing Letter Two

Client Payment Chasing Final Letter

Once one person has created these emails templates if you share them with your team the time-saving life hacking with be massive.

Call first. Email second

Always call first, email second You are a recruiter, the phone is your natural habitat. You are a lion, and the phone is your African savannah.

Email is the Atlantic ocean. Do you see many Lions in the Sea? Okay, smart ass in the back, yes there are sea lions, but you do not often see them hunting and catching Zebra. So call, call, call. Always call before emailing a candidate, client or colleague, it will speed up the processing of emails and tasks.

In all likelihood get you a better result compared to sending an email. How can you make this work on a daily basis to really hack productivity? What if you do not get through to the person or need an audit trail?

Calling instead of emailing will really boost your productivity as you will, in a 2-minute call, be able to communicate and make progress on a wide range of tasks that would have taken a long time to send, respond, negotiate and agree via emails.

When calling someone if you do not get through, leave them a voicemail and then send them a quick email saying I have left a voicemail responding to this or send the email you were going to throw. If you need an audit trail, then after a call, just send a quick summing up email that will cover (your ass) as an audit trail. Of course, if something is significant to write an email, but for 95% to 99%, a quick call rather than email will suffice.

Just Unsubscribe

Do you get a lot of emails? Marketing and round-robin type emails. Do they waste a lot of time? Let’s be honest. I bet you have loads. I do. So just be ruthless on your next Inbox Zero mission and click unsubscribe.

Be really ruthless, especially with anything that is vaguely personal in nature as each email with kill your time. For example, if you get Wowcher or other similar emails. If that email takes up one minute a day across a year, you have just wasted 6 hours of your life on bargains on toilet rolls and garden lights. Save this stuff for your personal email and just hit unsubscribe.




Do not ask for Permission in emails

Sometimes it feels like emails can be used like instant messenger chatroom from the late 1990’s. Ping, email. Ping, email. Ping, email. If you use the correct language, you can reduce and eliminate all these small time wasting emails that take up your day. You can do this by not asking for permission in emails. So what do we mean?

How cannot asking for permission to reduce the number of emails you receive? Simply, asking for approval means that the other person has to both think through the decision and then communicate that decision to you generally in another email. So instead of asking for permission why not just say what you are going to do, at a specific time. We will give an examples below to demonstrate what we mean.

Asking for Permission:

Hello Dave,

Attached is the Press Release wrote about the new product launch. Can you read it for me?

If it is okay, can I send the Press Release to News and Stuff?



Going Ahead without permission:

Hello Dave,

Attached is the Press Release for the product launch.

It is ready to be sent. Please read the attachment. We are going to send it to News and Stuff at three PM if we do not hear from you about any further changes.



Do you see what we mean? By not asking for permission you are giving yourself and the other person the chance to save time, energy and space in the inbox.

Your Inbox, Your Rules

The Inbox is not your master, it is your inbox, so you make the rules. You can master the mailbox, you can create your own rules. Around the globe, slavery was abolished for the most part over 100 years ago.

However, for many people in their offices today, the ‘inbox’ has become a virtual slave master creating tonnes of stress and destroying productivity. However, you can change this relationship by developing rules that mean the inbox works for you.

But you have to create these rules and stick by them. Personally, I use these three rules when dealing with my inbox.

1) Process all emails until you hit inbox zero three times a day first thing, lunchtime and before heading home.

2) Read any emails that need to be read at this minute and archive or delete straight away.

3) Work to Inbox zero then start on my to-do list. These rules work for me. However, they may not work for you.

If you are struggling to create your own rules what we suggest is that you sit down away from your email and brainstorm what is essential and what is not essential with emails in regards to your key priorities. Once you have done that.

Pick the three rules that you think will improve your daily battle with the inbox and stick to them rigidly for 28 days and see what happens.

Have a calendar item booked in for the 29th day to review how it worked and what you may need to change.   


Thank you for reading this Recruitment Hack. You can get a daily Recruitment Hack sent to your inbox by visiting Recruitment Hacks.

The Book: Recruitment Hacks is now available on Amazon.