How to Become the Leading Recruiter in Your Market Niche, with Brooke Ziolo, Ep #145

Imagine if you were a dominant recruiter in your industry with a portfolio of clients who come to you for all their hiring needs. 

That doesn’t happen overnight and requires persistence. As you’ll hear in my interview with Brooke Ziolo, it’s certainly achievable with the right mindset and methodology.

Brooke is the President of Egret Consulting, and has been an Executive Recruiter for 14 years. She and her team have become the Go-To recruiters for the lighting industry covering positions in sales, marketing, engineering, and operations from mid-level to C-Suite.  

In this episode, she shares how they became the market leading recruiters within the lighting industry.  She describes in detail how they reach out to clients and candidates with a blend of manual and automated processes plus an attitude of polite and professional persistence. 

Brooke’s history of how and when she started her recruiting career is a resounding story of resilience, leading to her becoming a Partner of Egret in 2013, the Managing Director in 2016, and purchasing the firm in 2019. She was inducted into the Pinnacle Society, the premier consortium of industry-leading recruiters in North America, in 2016.

Episode Outline and Highlights

  • [01:56] Brooke’s challenging first year in recruiting.
  • [06:05] Brooke’s mindset and method for building her desk during a recession. 
  • [11:11] What has changed in Egret’s approach to marketing over the past 14 years? 
  • [20:20] Would you consider reaching out via cold text? Discussion on combining videos and text when reaching out.
  • [25:04] Brooke’s recipe for success – from being a recruiter, a partner, and the decision of becoming a recruitment firm owner. 
  • [39:38] Brooke’s vision on taking the Egret company forward.
  • [41:42] Retaining employee engagement while shifting to a fully remote setup.

Starting Her Recruitment Career During the 2008 Recession

Brooke started her recruitment career in 2008, during the Great Recession. As you can imagine, it was extremely challenging. She only made 2 placements that whole year! But Brooke’s mindset and strategy during that turbulent time lead to her being successful when people started hiring again. 

Reminiscing her early days, Brook explained, “The only thing I control is how many calls I make. So if I keep making more calls than everybody in the office… that is all I can do right now. I kept just pounding the phones until somebody told me no or I am sick of you.”

For Brooke, it is all about her polite persistence. She understood the balance of not harassing anyone but staying within professional boundaries to put her name out there even if she was not making many placements. The result? People remembered her! Making all those phone calls enabled her to build her network of industry connections so people thought of her when they started hiring again.

Blended Approach to Marketing and Business Development

Cold calling and polite persistence laid the foundation for Brooke to become a top-producing recruiter and billing manager. But how has her approach to business development and marketing evolved over the last 14 years?

Here are some of the strategies she shared in this episode:

  • MPC Marketing
  • Monthly Newsletter
  • LinkedIn outreach
  • Advertising in the trade publication for her industry
  • Text messaging

We also shared tips and ways on cold text messaging. Many recruiters are afraid of sending unsolicited text messages and are concerned about receiving a negative reaction from the recipient. On the other hand, texting is a very effective way to communicate and typically gets a much faster response compared to other platforms such as email. Brooke shared how she does it and how much response she gets in doing so.

Brooke’s Success Mindset

In 2019, Brooke purchased the firm from her father who was the founder of Egrit Consulting. Acquiring the business wasn’t something she had initially set out to accomplish. But after falling in love with recruitment and becoming a top recruiter in the firm, she started being able to imagine the possibility of taking over the business.  

I asked Brooke’s recipe for success. In addition to her persistence and also being niche-focused, she shared three keys: :

  • Positive self-talk and affirmation
  • Taking her time and putting one foot in front of the other
  • Learning from past experience

I have always aimed to understand recruitment owners’ formulas for success. And Brooke certainly delivered in this episode.

Our Sponsors

This podcast is proudly sponsored by i-intro and Recruitment Entrepreneur.

i-intro® is an end-to-end retained recruitment platform. Their technology and methodology allow recruiters to differentiate themselves from the competition, win more retained business, bigger fees and increase their billings. Their software combined with world-class training enables you to transition from transactional, contingency recruiter to consultative, retained recruiter. Instead of being perceived as a “me too” vendor, you’ll be positioned as a “me only” solutions provider. Be sure to mention Mark Whitby or The Resilient Recruiter. Book your free, no-obligation consultation here:

Recruitment Entrepreneur is the world’s leading Private Equity firm specializing in the international recruitment industry. If you’ve dreamed of starting, scaling and selling your recruitment business, this is your chance. James Caan and his team at Recruitment Entrepreneur are actively seeking ambitious recruiters who they can invest in. They provide everything you need to grow a successful recruitment business including: funding, financial expertise, coaching and mentoring, operational strategy, backoffice support, marketing and talent attraction solutions. Be sure to mention Mark Whitby or The Resilient Recruiter. Start a conversation here:

Brooke Ziolo Bio and Contact Info 

Brooke Ziolo has been an Executive Recruiter with Egret Consulting for 14 years. Brooke works exclusively in the lighting industry with manufacturers, rep agencies, ESCOs, and design firms. She works in positions in sales, marketing, engineering, and operations from mid-level to C-Suite. She was inducted into the Pinnacle Society, the premier consortium of industry-leading recruiters in North America, in 2016. Brooke became a Partner of Egret in 2013, the Managing Director in 2016, and purchased the firm in 2019.

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