There are lessons for recruiting firms tucked away in all sorts of unlikely places. If you pay attention, you can glean recruiting insights from topics as diverse as baseball, boiling frogs, and yes, even China’s recent stock market crisis.

In case you missed the news, China’s markets were in steep decline over the past few weeks, forcing the government to implement drastic measures to stabilize them. Part of the issue is investors were spurred on by overwhelming confidence in the strength of the market and statements from the government that the bullish trend was just beginning.

The whole country was blindsided by the decline as a result, and the government’s scramble to stop the bleeding has damaged its plan for long-term economic reform.

Which brings us to the lesson — two lessons, actually— for recruiting firms.

Get the Full Story Behind Your Investments

The crash in China, like all crashes, was caused by a misalignment between the perception of market value and its reality. Viewing your recruiting performance solely through rose-colored glasses can have equally disastrous consequences.

To establish long-term stability within your firm, you have to use the right recruiting metrics and know the full story behind your results. This means going beyond your bottom line, and looking at inputs. Yes, maybe your recruiters did book a lot of business this month, but what about next month?

Do you have enough candidates in the pipeline to keep up the momentum? Do you have enough real job orders to match your goals? Will your recruiting process be sustainable as your business grows?

Unless you maintain a full 360 degree view of your recruiting performance, you’ll miss something that will throw off all of your future plans. It’s the same as following due diligence when you invest — time and work are your currency, and recruiting metrics are the best measure of how much of it you have to spare.

Know the full story behind the returns you get from them, so you can get even higher returns from the future, and never get blindsided by a sudden decline in profits.

Short Term Sacrifices Have Long Term Consequences

Recruiting is always a matter of give-and-take — you’ll never have your cake and eat it, too. But take every opportunity you can to remind yourself of that.

China faces a long, uphill battle to develop opportunities for economic growth outside the realm of government-sponsored projects. The burgeoning stock market was a promising outlet for more organic investment — until it crashed, and the government enacted a series of regulatory measures to stop the bleeding. Now, the country may be back to square one on the long road to developing a functional free-market.

The lesson here is that recruiting firms constantly juggle between short and long term goals — and it can be very easy to make reflexive decisions in the short-term that damage your firm over the long-haul.

Sometimes, you have no choice but to sacrifice your long term goals to stay afloat, but other times it’s better to stick to the long term plan, even if it means a substantial setback in the short term.

The one thing every manager must do to keep her firm on track is maintain an objective, data-driven view of her team’s recruiting performance. As InsightSquared’s Sales VP Steve McKenzie is keen to say, “Assumption is the mother of all f— ups.” This holds true for software sales, the Chinese economy, and most of all, for recruiting.

To ensure your performance never crashes, always know the numbers that contribute to your bottom line. Those are the things that keep you in control of your firm’s future.

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