How to Succeed in Recruiting by Letting Go of Perfectionism

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Great recruiters understand that perfect is the enemy of great. They realize their placements, much like the candidates and clients they deal with, aren’t “perfect” – even when they’ve made the best match possible.

I mention this because recruiters in the new and passionate phase of their recruiting career can often get hung up on a desire for perfection.

We all can. Or at least those of us who have ambition, high standards and a desire to achieve excellence on the job.

But a perfectionist personality isn’t always a good thing, and doesn’t always achieve what we think – and hope – it should.

In fact, it can be a weakness, as Kinzy Janssen wrote in this post. It also has the potential to paralyze us, prevent us from doing anything if we don’t think we can do it perfectly, as I wrote about in this post.

Surprisingly, career coaches say the hard-charging, detail-oriented traits typically considered assets in today’s workplace may actually be working against you, damaging your rep and making it harder to get ahead.

Drive, discipline and determination are all good things, but if they lead to stress and disappointment because of unmet or unrealized dreams, goals or expectations then those things become our enemy.

Recruiting technology vendors can also struggle with the unrealistic or unreachable notion of “the perfect match.”

“It’s true that we tend to talk about how our search tools zoom in on the ‘perfect’ candidate, but at the end of the day speed is as important as perfection,” says David Dourgarian, CEO of Tempworks Software.  “In the field of Search, like with all heuristics, the optimal solution is a balance of speed and accuracy.”

This blog post I came across from Coca-Cola opines that perfectionists can better serve themselves, and the organizations they work for, with these five easy strategies:

1. Figure out what’s fueling your obsession with perfection.

“Perfectionists are driven by fear,” says Kathy Caprino, a Connecticut-based success coach, leadership trainer and author of Breakdown, Breakthrough: The Professional Woman’s Guide to Claiming a Life of Passion, Power and Purpose. Once you identify your root fear address it, by, say, signing up for more training or asking HR about the possibilities of advancement. Deal with your concerns head-on, and you’ll feel empowered and more confident.

2. Prioritize your most important tasks.

Since you can’t bring your A game to everything you do on the job, write down five things you feel you must do flawlessly and focus on these so you can loosen your grip a little on the others.

3. Set realistic goals.

“Good enough” is a term that strikes fear in the heart of perfectionists. But it’s a level of success you should aim for more often. Why? You’re more likely to finish a project if you give yourself an attainable deadline.

4. Ask colleagues for feedback.

“Perfectionists fear showing anything but the end product to others because they’re terrified they’ll be judged by it,” explains Jeff Szymanski, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Boston and author ofThe Perfectionist’s Handbook. “But running things by others keeps you from getting mired in unimportant details and fosters a culture of openness and collaboration.”

5. Reframe criticism.

Perfectionists are so used to getting a gold star on their work that receiving negative feedback can be crippling. But instead of viewing criticism as a sign of failure, think of it as an opportunity to learn how to do things better the next time, says Szymanski. In other words, embrace your mistakes, so you adapt and grow from them.

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