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What Caught My Eye:

Be Your Own Cheerleader to Triumph in Recruiting

Peter Weddle’s weekly column “What Caught My Eye” looks at recent news stories and the lessons they hold for recruiters. They’re a special feature of the TAtech Professional Member program, which is free for HR/TA professionals recruiting for enterprise employers and SMBs.

Nebraska cheerleader competes alone at state champs after squad quits, scores team record (

Talk about a disaster out of the blue. Katrina Kohel, a senior at Morrill High School in Morrill, Nebraska, had been working with her teammates for months to prepare for the Nebraska State High School Cheer and Dance Championships. The performance was to be the crowning achievement of her high school career as a cheerleader. And then, less than two weeks before the competition, her teammates quit.

Her coach expected Katrina to give in to this devastating turn of events and bow out of the competition. She even offered to take Katrina to the Championships as an observer, so she could at least be a part of the event. But, Katrina wasn’t having it. She told her coach would still compete – albeit all by herself – and using the remaining days before the contest, she put together an entirely new solo routine.

On the day of the championships, Katrina was naturally concerned about how the crowd would react to a single cheerleader in a team competition. When she got out on the performance floor, however, she quickly realized she had nothing to worry about. Almost immediately, the crowd started to cheer her on. Even her competitors yelled their support from the sidelines. As she put it later, I told myself, “Even if I mess this whole thing up, I will be OK. I’m doing this by myself and no matter what, it’s going to be OK.”

Katrina’s experience is a lesson in perseverance. Difficult situations will often continue to be difficult, but refusing to be overwhelmed by them and sticking to one’s goals can turn them into personal triumphs. Indeed, persevering in the face of challenges is actually an expression of self-respect, and that – as much as her cheer routine – was on display at the championships.

How Can Katrina’s Example Help Recruiters?

Recruiters are also facing disasters out of the blue. They aren’t as unexpected as Katrina’s – CEOs are nothing if not creatures of habit – but layoffs among the recruiting team and reductions in the recruiting budget can and often do seem just as sudden and catastrophic. After all, it’s not as if many companies don’t still have plenty of unfilled positions and others aren’t in desperate need of new talent to be ready for the economy’s inevitable reacceleration.

So, as normal as RIFs and budget cuts are in business, their occurrence leaves individual recruiters feeling gob smacked and abandoned by those they thought were committed to the same mission. Especially in the last several years, corporate executives and business owners have been nonstop in expressing their recognition of the important role recruiting plays in enterprise success. It’s as if all of a sudden, employers are revealing they had their fingers crossed behind their backs and didn’t really mean what they were saying.

Such actions are obviously hard on those affected, but they also put a serious strain on those who are left behind. They are, in effect, being told to do (a lot) more with (a lot) less. It’s definitely not what they signed up for when they took their jobs in the first place and that reality confronts them with the same two choices Katrina faced. They can give up and quit or they can find the determination to carry on. They can pull out or they can persevere and continue recruiting.

It’s not an easy decision, but for many (as it was for Katrina), it’s actually an obvious one. If they value the employer they represent, if they are passionate about their work and take pride in it, if doing the best they can even in difficult circumstances brings them joy, then staying the course is the right choice for them. That statement isn’t meant to diminish the frustration and even inequity of the situation, but rather it focuses on the benefit each individual recruiter derives from persevering. The employer may gain some new hires, but to paraphrase Katrina, those recruiters are doing it for themselves and no matter what they’re going to be OK.

Food for Thought,

If you’ve enjoyed this edition of “What Caught My Eye,” read some of my other posts at the TAtech Blog.

Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can download his latest book – The Neonaissance – FOR FREE at And, if you don't have time to read the entire book, just download a short excerpt of his inspirational message.