Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What a Cab Driver Taught Me about Navigating the Job Market

I just read Harvey Mackay's story about a cab driver who doubles his income by investing in exceptional service. As I read the story I realized that the cabbie's strategy can be applied to any service business, especially recruiting.

In a nutshell, the cab driver designed a superior experience for his fares. He wore freshly pressed slacks and shiny shoes. He kept his taxi immaculately clean. He offered newspapers, coffee and soft drinks, pedicures and manicures....Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration. But the point is that the cab driver constantly surprised people with extra consideration for their comfort. Now he doesn't have to line up to wait for fares. His customers call him to reserve a ride and his income has doubled. A few small considerations can go a long way.

The taxi driver's lesson: Exceed expectations. How does that apply to the recruiting business?

The job market like the taxi business is characterized by fierce competition. Either we have a large pool of candidates fighting for a few jobs or we're competing for a rare candidate to fill a highly a specialized job. As I communicate with clients and candidates all day I see every conversation as an opportunity. My goal is to create goodwill, to discover and exceed expectations. Is the commute to a new job placement manageable? Are the salary expectations reasonable? Is this job the right fit? Can I negotiate better work arrangements?

Every interview, telephone call and email reminds me of the taxi driver's message: Meeting expectations isn't good enough. You have to exceed people's expectations to succeed. But I draw the line at pedicures.

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