Cleared recruiting is an interesting job – both incredibly rewarding and often frustrating. You find yourself touching base with the business development team on proposal efforts, working with program managers to staff funded contracts, attending staffing meetings with the rest of the talent acquisition teams, and managing indoctrination dates with your Facility Security Officer (FSO). Add those internal teams to the 50 or so candidates you are communicating with, negotiating with, or trying to hunt down.
It’s a position that can provide you a lot of stress in addition to the experience of high expectations for your own work… and before COVID-19, you may have worked from home a few days a week with some office time, attending career fairs, etc. The recruiting process can be repetitive, and you might have the same exact conversation every day for a month trying to get the same position filled.
Since the onset of COVID-19, I’m finding that while I’m humbled to still have a job, recruiting deadlines and expectations have almost tripled. Our current contracts are being extended, proposals are still being awarded, and turnover is still a problem in this industry. I’m finding that working at home is blurring the lines between my house and my office, and it’s difficult to just put work away. How do recruiters manage a healthy work/life balance when the pressure is on and things need to get done?
-Morgan, Baltimore MD
At 100% work from home, burnout is an even bigger concern for this part of the already overworked portion of the national security apparatus.
Burnout is a state of fatigue, boredom, or dissatisfaction with your work or a “state of emotional and physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress.” This can be tough to manage in cases like 2020 where you aren’t in control of your outcomes – and cleared recruiters know this more than most.
So, don’t reinvent the wheel – and use these strategies to avoid this icky feeling.
KNOW WHAT KIND OF REMOTE WORKER YOU ARE
A separator is someone who might have the same schedule as working onsite – a traditional concept of work-life balance, where hours are segmented for work and personal time like a 9-5PM. You have a set routine and keep personal time work-free by putting the phone away.
An integrator (ME!) blends work and personal time throughout the day. Get your emails and planning done in the morning, throw in a load of laundry, attend a meeting, wash the dishes, conduct a few interviews, go to the store (respond to social media inquiries in the cashier’s line), then source more candidates at home, then play with my puppy, then schedule some more interviews. An integrator concentrates on business for a few hours, then attends to something personal, and works into the evening.
Tom Weinert, Founder at Mount Indie says, ‘The beauty of work from home is it allows us to really shift our schedule to eliminate dead zones throughout the day. I noticed that from 2:00 – 3:00 I am basically worthless for some reason and I am way more effective early in the morning. Rather than trying to “power through” my dead zone, which will lead to burnout… I take a rest, take a drive or do something fun. This really helps me recharge and stay focused.’
DRAW THOSE BOUNDARIES
When you commit to being ‘off the clock’, be at home with your family. Don’t hide your mobile at your side checking emails when you’re supposed to be watching a movie with the kiddos. I personally like to set blocks of time on my outlook calendar so my P(ersonal)C assistant yells at me to move on from work to making dinner (I will forget as an all-day coffee drinker).
So, take those breaks! If you’re working all day during a virtual hiring event, it can be tough to cut away and take a breather unless you have support, but even a short break can avoid completely depleting yourself. Tom Weinert reflects on the importance of disconnecting and reconnecting while recruitment teams are working from home: “We are missing the social aspect of work and in many cases the routine, I see this having negative long term effects on anyone in WFH life if they don’t take some time to be social throughout the day. At least a couple times of week, I get in my car at lunch time and drive around while talking to family and friends and it really helps me to break up the day, reconnect, and stay social.”
TRY NEW THINGS
Not only is taking on a new hobby keeping your brain exercised in a different way, but it is also some very much needed self-care. This is the biggest thing to preventing burnout, and a large piece of self-care is finding the time for things you enjoy. If you’re already anxious about even finding the time to choose a new hobby, fear not. You probably don’t need to worry – the one you left in the dust when you sold your soul to the work week at home is waiting for you. Sign up for that virtual class you’ve been thinking about, get the kayaks out of the shed, or buy some new paint brushes.
OVERWORKING AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Recruiting comes in ebbs and flows sometimes and that is a good thing. Just remember that during the slow times, it’s ok to not catch up on the to-do list and yes, again, take a break. Cleared recruiters might find themselves working 15-hour days one week, and then the usual 8-hour days the next. Make the most of those off-season days (15-hour days ARE NOT NORMAL, YOU GUYS) and don’t overwhelm yourself at the peak cycles in defense staffing.
Lastly, make some allies in your household (for optimal results, DON’T have your accountability partners be a relative or your significant other). Find one like that trusty outlook calendar reminder or perhaps a furry friend who already wants you to take a break and go outside with them.
Have a recruiting question? Submit yours to The Cleared Recruiting Chronicles by emailing email@example.com.